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(In)Voluntary Actions in High Pressure Situations

Chilfo Freeze

Emma Jean Stone
Are there things that you purposely do - or can't help but do - in high pressure situations? Let me get the ball rolling so that y'all can get a better understanding of what this thread is about!

1.) In any tight-scoring lacrosse game, I find myself constantly shuffling my feet back and forth when the ball isn't on my side of the field. It's definitely an involuntary action, and I've always had my teammates tell me that I do it as well. I think I do it because of jitters, but I'm not too sure. Usually I'm just racking through my brain, trying to figure out how the offense is going to play out, so I start to shuffle my feet.

2.) I ran for Homecoming Queen my senior year of High School. I had to present a speech to the senior class, and my speech was between 1-2 minutes in length. In that short span of time, I managed to push my hair behind my ears about 20-30 times. My friends in the audience were counting. :bleh: This is also involuntary for me, because I had no idea that I had done it so many times until after my friends told me about it!

3.) When I'm angry or frustrated at someone, and I can't get in a word - and I just so happen to be standing while this is happening - I hoist myself up onto my tippy-toes. This is definitely one of my wierder movements in any given situation, and I personally cannot decide if it's voluntary or not!

Anybody else got any little quirks when they find themselves in a tough situation?

Azure Sage

Spread Smiles!
Staff member
ZD Legend
Comm. Coordinator
Well, I mess with my hair when I'm nervous. I actually subconsciously play with it regardless of situation, but I do it even more when I'm under pressure, so much so that it interferes with what I'm doing. For example, half the time I spent taking the SAT last year was spent playing with my hair while reading the questions over again, even though I already understood what to do. It was like my hand wasn't finished messing with my hair yet and refused to stop until it was satisfied.


Sep 20, 2008
Here are my reactions in the following situations;

When Angry-

When i'm particularly angry/moody, my pupils will shrink to un-natural size and my eyes will widen. I lock on to the other person without even wanting to and I think it's my body's way of telling them that i'm rather peeved. :P I don't raise my voice or anything. Instead I lower it and speak incredibly calmly. So it's rather creepy when i'm angry, which is a very rare occurrence.

When Sad-

If i'm sad I find that I fiddle with my hair, scratch the corner of my eyes and bite my top lip. I do the same thing when i'm nervous. I normally don't notice until I feel my eyes watering from being scratched so much xD

When Nervous-

During nervousness i'll normally take a quieter tone of voice and play with my hair. If i'm not doing that, i'll stick my hands in my pockets and sort of look down/away from the person i'm nervous about talking to. If i'm giving a speech and i'm nervous, i'll normally just blink slower and fix my clothes. By blink slower I mean very few blinks per minute. D:

When Interested-

If i'm interested i'll sit on my hands or lean forward ever so slightly. It's actually a documented thing that actions like that will increase the confidence of the person you're listening to and assist them in delivering the information and assist you in absorbing it.

When Disinterested-

I'll show very little enthusiasm and i'll lean on my hand or allow my head to lean to the side.

When Confident-

I raise my tone ever so slightly, use my hands more when speaking and i'll smile a lot.

When Scared-

I'll raise my eyebrows, my heartrate increases and i'll be incredibly sensitive to movement and other people's presence, expressions and actions.

When Happy-

Wider arm and hand movements, more smiles, more confident tone of voice and more laughing. ^^

I think i'll end it off there before I break into a solid list of actions. :L


The Sexy One
Aug 18, 2012
In your pants.
When I'm under stress, I will do my pony tail, undo it a few seconds later, do it again into a bun, undo it, pony tail again, and it goes on and on until I'm finished whatever was stressing me.
I also tend to curl up my toes and bite my lower lip if I'm concentrating on a particular test question or something like that. And when I think really hard, I tend to widen my eyes and pout.
During a test I probably look like a complete idiot. :lol:


Soldier for Christ!
Jan 29, 2011
Ah, I'm not sure what I do in certain situations. I guess when I'm angry I clench my fists and sort of raise them as if I were about to punch the person in front of me. When I’m sad, I think my mouth opens, and when I realize I close it. :bleh: When I’m tense during a game I bite my lower lip and put my hands up to my face in fists. And when I'm happy I think my ears perk and my eyebrows raise. All of this I don't realize until the feeling is over. X3
I try not to get rattled by anything, i'll live longer that way.

When i'm nervous i lick my lips and the corners of my mouth a lot but that's just because i like to make them sting and the pain takes my mind off of things. Doesn't really help in job interviews when your mouth starts leaking red though.

Johnny Sooshi

Just a sleepy guy
Nov 1, 2011
a Taco Bell dumpster
Let's see

When I'm nervous because of a speech I need to give or an award I'm receiving I often tighten my hands together in front of my and they sweat a lot.

When I'm pissed off I grind my teeth.

When I'm playing a tough tennis match, especially if I'm losing and stressed out, I spin the racket in my hands a lot. Anyone who knows me when I play tennis can see when I'm disheartened or when I'm losing, even if they aren't close enough to hear the score.
Jul 24, 2011
Pennsylvania, USA
I start breathing heavy when I start to get nervous in front of people.

When I'm bored, I'll start stretching my wristbands.

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