Why Do I Play With My Hair? A Psychologist Says It Can Be A Sign Of Anxiety
Whenever I find myself in a situation that makes me anxious -- like, say, a job interview, or even a date -- I have a habit of playing with and trying to "fix" my hair.
I brush it away from my face even when it's already out of my way. I twirl strand after strand until dead ends disintegrate between my fingertips.
I know I'm not the only one who does this. In fact, a study done by Dove found that women with fine hair touch their locks up to 18 times a day.
So, why the hell do we all do this so much?
Does it give us a sense of control in situations where we feel like we don't have it? Is it just a mindless habit, something to occupy the hands when they're feeling restless?
Elite Daily spoke with clinical psychologist Matthew Childs, Psy.D, about what this particular body language might reveal about a person.
And, actually, playing with your hair can mean a number of different things.
Dr. Childs explains,
It could speak toward anxiety about appearance or about the way you feel within that situation. It can also mean the way you relate to your hair, if you consider it a positive or negative physical attribute.
So the habit doesn't necessarily have to be anxiety-related.
Say you're talking to someone you find attractive. Playing with your hair might be your sort of subconscious way of showing you care about what that person thinks of your physical appearance.
Dr. Childs tells Elite Daily,
[You might want] to appeal to that person and communicate that you look good or feel good, and want to elicit some positive feelings from the person you are talking to as well.
But, in that case, does the other person notice you're constantly playing with your hair?
And, if they do, what do they think about it?
Dr. Childs says it mostly depends on the person:
Often it is read as, 'This person wants me to think well of them.' But it could also cause the person [playing with their hair] to question themselves: 'Is this person thinking something about me?' It could bring up some understandings or misunderstandings depending on how it is interpreted.
So, even if touching your hair isn't a genuine indication of anxiety, it can still appear and be communicated that way. It's a nonverbal cue that people often read as discomfort.
Plus, in an interview or professional setting, it can even be read as incompetence.
(Ugh, as if I don't overanalyze every situation enough as it is.)
Regardless of why you can't stop touching your hair, maybe take this as your cue to simply pay a little more attention to your habits.
After all, you never really know how someone else might be interpreting them.