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Is Clumsiness a Sign of Poor Stress Management?

Are you a klutz? If so, have you ever really thought about what might be causing or exacerbating your clumsiness?

Last Updated: Sep 2, 2022
Is Clumsiness a sign of poor stress management

If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t. You might just think it’s a fixed personality trait or “part of who you are.” We generally dismiss clumsiness, assuming the occasional fall or spilled drink is either an innocent mistake or an accidental oversight.

Everyone trips over themselves or bumps into the table sometimes. But consistent clumsiness may be a sign of underlying mental health issues. Let’s get into what you need to know.

Jump to:

What causes clumsiness?
The connection between clumsiness and mental health
Tips for managing clumsiness
Final Thoughts

What causes clumsiness?

Nobody has perfect coordination or complete bodily awareness all the time. Likewise, having sporadic moments of clumsiness is not generally a cause for concern.

In some cases, clumsiness coincides with specific medical conditions, including:

  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Brain tumors and traumatic brain injury
  • Arthritis
  • Dyspraxia
  • Pregnancy

When it’s a medical concern, sudden clumsiness may result from significant disruptions in brain communication. Other times, clumsiness stems from acute or chronic injuries that make certain tasks challenging.

The connection between clumsiness and mental health

Although there aren’t many focused studies on this topic, excessive clumsiness may correlate with certain mental health conditions.

Like with most symptoms, it’s difficult to distinguish whether one issue causes another. Instead, it’s more probable that certain mental health issues exacerbate poor coordination and bodily awareness.


Dizziness, shaky hands, a racing heartbeat, and muscle tension are some physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. People with anxiety also frequently feel restless and distracted, making it harder to focus on controlling their bodies.

As a result, they may be more prone to spilling or breaking things, tripping over themselves, or falling down. When someone with anxiety feels overwhelmed, they may feel so consumed by their racing thoughts that they can’t pay full attention to their surroundings.


ADHD affects the brain’s frontal lobe, which is associated with crucial tasks like planning, organizing, making decisions, and sustaining attention.

Research shows that children with ADHD often struggle with balance and motor control. These problems may arise due to brain communication disruptions coupled with inattentiveness and impulsivity.

While children may grow out of these difficulties, many adults with ADHD self-report themselves as ‘accident-prone.’ Paying attention often remains a significant challenge, and this issue can increase someone’s susceptibility to falling, tripping, and spilling.


Although they are not part of autism’s diagnostic criteria, approximately 80% of people with autism also experience movement problems, including clumsiness.

The reason for this significant relationship isn’t exactly understood. However, some researchers postulate that the difficulties can begin early in life, such as when an infant learns to sit up or later learns to crawl.

Many parents corroborate that their children experienced delays with achieving milestones like rolling over, independent walking, or pedaling a bicycle. Over time, these motor problems and developmental difficulties may coincide with greater coordination problems.


Chronic insomnia affects anywhere from 10-30% of the adult population. Sleep is paramount for your well-being, and sleep problems can undoubtedly impact your coordination.

Research shows, for example, that people who receive fewer hours of sleep exhibit less control when walking during a treadmill test. Mild fatigue can impact even basic, automatic tasks like walking and gait.

Similarly, sleep deprivation is one of the riskiest hazards when operating heavy machinery. People who sleep less than six hours per night have an increased car accident risk of 33% compared to sleeping 7-8 hours per night.

Tips for managing clumsiness

You may not be able to prevent all accidents, but you can take steps to reduce clumsy behavior. Here are some strategies.

Limit or avoid multitasking: We aren’t wired to juggle numerous responsibilities simultaneously. Instead, focus on being deliberate with each task you need to complete.

Take in your surroundings: When you’re somewhere new, take a moment to pause and familiarize yourself with your environment. Identify any potential physical hazards and either avoid them or make a plan for dealing with them.

Get more sleep: As much as possible, try to prioritize getting quality sleep each night, even if it means using a sleeping aid. Losing even a few hours can have drastic effects on your well-being.

Keep yourself organized: Messy environments can exacerbate clumsiness. Try to keep a tidy home and put things back where they belong.

Aim to improve your balance: Pilates, yoga, and core exercises can strengthen your balance and agility. These, in turn, can enhance your physical awareness and offset clumsiness.

Final Thoughts

Clumsiness may seem like a quirky trait, but it can also be frustrating, embarrassing, and problematic. If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. Managing your physical and emotional well-being may help you regain a sense of control of your body.

Clumsiness may be a sign of poor stress management, but it can also be a symptom of another health condition. If you’re concerned, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional for an evaluation.