Although clumsiness or clumsy acts can happen to anyone and anytime, there have been links between those who suffer from anxiety and increased levels of clumsiness. This being said, this increased clumsiness is normally accompanied by other physical or psychological symptoms of anxiety such as sweaty palms, distraction or shaking.
As with a lot of physical symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Does Anxiety Cause Clumsiness?
There are a few reasons as to why anxiety might cause increased clumsiness, the first being distraction. When we’re dealing with anxiety, our mind is often somewhere else, typically either in the past or hypothesising about the future, so it’s not firmly concentrating on the present. This makes it more likely that you’re not going to notice the edge of the rug and trip over it or not see the person walking towards you and bump into them. This then seemingly reinforces the negative beliefs that are going on in your distracted head that you’re not good enough and so the cycle rumbles on.
Another reason is that when our brain activates our fight, flight or freeze response, our body becomes flooded with adrenaline and cortisol that makes our body restless and jittery. This combined with the increase in heart rate and body temperature causing sweating, means that we can struggle to keep hold of things or find ourselves knocking things over more than we normally would.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
Considering that this symptom is exacerbated by distracted thinking, it might be helpful to try and practice mindfully being present through breathing exercises and meditation. Another technique to get rid of the excess nervous energy that our survival instinct releases might be to exercise and burn off the excess.
Of course, in order to prevent the symptoms of anxiety occurring in the first place, you need to manage or build strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.