Are Anxiety Tics Aging You Faster?

Are Anxiety Tics Aging You Faster?

Most of us have experienced some form of anxiety or nervousness throughout our lives. The way these feelings affect us and the causes themselves may be vastly different from one person to another. For some of us public speaking might raise the heart rate or for others receiving criticism from someone whose opinion they value will cause them to sweat. Although one thing is nearly certain, which is everyone copes with anxiety in some form. How each person does varies, but one method that most people repeat without giving it much thought are anxiety tics.

Some of the most common anxiety tics seem to be increased quick and localized motions like fidgeting, touching one’s face, scratching oneself, tapping the feet or hands, or constantly shifting weight from one foot to another when standing. These are only a handful of ways in which humans seem to respond to feeling stress as you may have noticed others.

Might these anxiety tics be causing you to age faster? In this article we will explore the potential link between nervous tics and accelerated dehydration as well as some practical solutions to address this. This study published on PubMed (, describes how humans tend to age faster and become more at risk of developing chronic diseases as they become more dehydrated. As most of us age, the ability to retain water in our body and muscles diminishes. We will examine if these anxious tics may be a factor in leading to the dehydration of certain areas in our body.


Tourette’s vs. Anxiety Tics


Before we delve into how tapping for anxiety or other related movements may dehydrate us, it is important to distinguish the difference between the neurological disorder Tourette’s vs. anxiety tics. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders {Tourette Syndrome | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (} Tourette’s Syndrome symptoms are categorized by uncontrollable quick and repetitive movements or vocalizations which can range from the more common simple variations to the less common and more complex variety.


Complex tics are distinct, coordinated patterns of movement involving several muscle groups in different parts of the body. Complex motor tics might include facial grimacing combined with a head twist and a shoulder shrug.

On the other hand anxiety tics are usually accompanied by a feeling of unease or nervousness. The body then responds by developing an impulse to do something about the feeling in an attempt to self-soothe. They may go unnoticed by most people and are typically seen more in situations where people begin to feel nervous or have anticipatory anxiety such as before a large social gathering or if you are lying to somebody.

Although we have listed some common examples above that you may recognize, there are many others that we may not want to consider. Some people seem to be uneasy with silence and prefer talking instead of moving, this could be an anxiety tic as well because it causes inconsistent heart rate variability. Constantly checking the phone is another way many people seem to deal with feeling restless and this pattern of behavior seems to lead to other forms of searching for stimulus.

Anxiety tics cause us to repeat behavior patterns that leak energy because we do not have more appropriate body language. Since most humans do not have impeccable movement we have limited examples of better ways to physically express ourselves in our environment. Even some high level athletes may have some of these tendencies, but we aim to copy more of what they excel at in their sport rather than anything that may accelerate aging.

These examples should not to be confused with involuntary twitches which can be uncontrollable reactions to experiencing higher stress, such as eye twitching or muscular spasms in the face or other areas.

When it comes to distinguishing between Tourette’s vs. anxiety tics there are a few ways you can discover the difference. You can ask yourself, is there an urge to perform the movement or is the motion unconscious and uncontrollable? Tourrette’s Syndrome is involuntary and usually first seen at a younger age for most individuals, around 6-10 years old.

Another way to determine if you experience Tourette’s vs. anxiety tics is to take note of when the movements occur. The presence of anticipatory anxiety leading to urges to tap or scratch oneself is a crucial factor to consider when distinguishing between Tourette's vs. anxiety tics. In the next couple sections we will cover what some of the implications of tapping for anxiety or other nervous tics may be in regard to dehydrating you faster.

What does a hydrated body move like?

Elite athletes in sports that require running as a priority tend to have viscous muscles that appear more plump and full, similar to a ripe fruit. Whether you want to move like an elite athlete or work your 9-5 with a higher quality of life, we aim to give you the option for either with Functional Patterns. One of the key components in doing this is eliminating the improper ratios of movement between our joints. 

Let’s visualize the joints of the lower body standing from a seated position for an example of how ratios of movement affect our body. In this instance, the knee, hip, and ankle joints must coordinate to maintain balance when standing up. Without proper ratios of movement between each joint, you may become unsteady and more likely to fall forward or back into your seat. Not only can the function we aim to perform be affected by improper ratios, but the force production and perceived effort of moving will also be influenced. 

This is why we take a global approach to analyzing your posture and movement with Functional Patterns and aim to help you hydrate all of your muscles through more efficient movement. We want your body to perform better by improving the capacity to pump water and other nutrients to every part of each of your muscles. By adopting a systems approach to address unwanted symptoms typically associated with aging or less appropriate fitness methods, we are able to help people develop a more athletic, injury resistant, and hydrated body for the long run.


Results by Functional Patterns Practitioner: Derek Diesel

Tapping out

Our body can adapt to a wide variety of inputs and unfortunately, not all the adaptations we make are a net positive for our long term health. A commonly visible example of this is the way the skin on our face ages. If someone frequently smiles or exaggerates facial expressions, they may begin to form wrinkles in certain parts of their skin that fold regularly, like around the eyes or mouth. The wrinkles are an indication that that area is dehydrating faster than the more smooth sections of the skin. This is how tapping for anxiety or other nervous tics may lead to problems. 

The more we repeat patterns of movement the more ingrained they become. Repeating quick motions with only a few joints that do not help us address the ratio of muscle activations we need for moving better, will likely create more imbalance and make it harder to move efficiently. Tapping for anxiety or fidgeting is like constantly over working one muscle without thinking about how that muscle activation relates to moving with less wasted effort. Although some fitness influencer’s believe that the only bad workout is the one you do not do, there is a possibility to maladapt to exercises or activities that do not account for the forces we use to walk or stand properly. 

A popular Neuroscientist who has made similar claims is Andrew Huberman. Although he may be well intended, he does not seem to test the opinions he shares with people by actually working with them. Andrew has even recommended increasing fidgeting by labeling the behavior as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) in the past. 

The protocol he suggested essentially boiled down to fidgeting more. When demonstrating he used what some people may view as tapping for anxiety as an example of how he recommended to get more calories burned without a specific exercise throughout the day. Unfortunately, this is a very short sighted approach by only considering the increase in calories burned without thinking about the possible imbalances these behaviors may reinforce.

Resolving the Dehydration

A more practical and sustainable way to begin addressing nervous tics and improving your health is by observing the places that may cause you stress, such as theme parks or busy restaurants. Certain types of media like suspenseful movies or true-crime TV shows leave you with a sense of distress or excitement. Potentially even waiting in traffic may cause you to feel anticipatory anxiety then sense the urge to fidget. 

In situations like these, it is important to analyze the possible behaviors you may already prefer and try to remain more still. It can be challenging as you might want to replace one form of fidgeting for another at first, but if you pair these observations with training intentionally as we do at Functional Patterns, you will likely begin to feel more at ease by moving with a purpose.

Our approach at Functional Patterns is centered around identifying the most efficient methods for problem-solving, which extends not only to our exercise selection and execution, but also the way we perform everyday movements. We are concerned with limiting behaviors such as tapping for anxiety or other movements that may cause you to accelerate dehydration. Training in a way that accounts for the specific ways we use our muscles in motion is a key to our success stories. This way we can create a better pump of nutrients and water to our muscles by reducing the kinks of circulation that may be caused with repetitive localized motions like fidgeting.


  2. Tourette Syndrome | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (
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