5 Steps to Dealing with Phone AnxietyYour phone rings, and you immediately get a sinking feeling in your chest. Your heart starts racing, your palms are sweating and you can’t help but have difficulty breathing. That thought of actually picking up and talking is terrifying you. Even seeing that it’s just your mom or best friend checking on you doesn’t make it any better. You would much rather let it go to voicemail and text them back later.
Have you ever experienced this? Then you might be suffering from phone anxiety or phone phobia. It is considered as one of the aspects of social anxiety that affects more than 15 million in the U.S. alone.
What Is Phone Phobia?
The term is used to describe any phone-related social anxiety that a person can experience. In fact, there are two different types of telephonophobia:
- nomophobia, which is the fear of being left without your phone nearby;
- telephonophobia (or phone apprehension), a fear of receiving or making phone calls.
While none of these are causing any serious medical threat by itself, experiencing them is certainly not pleasant and can considerably decrease your life satisfaction, not to mention damage your career or relationship. It can also lead to a panic attack.
The natural reaction to experiencing phone phobia is avoiding phone calls altogether. Unfortunately, in the modern world, this is often not an option. For many jobs or even social activities picking up your phone and making that dreadful call is necessary. Also, avoiding the cause of your anxiety will only worsen it. Psychologists recommend approaching phone anxiety by confronting the fears related to it and actively working on dealing with them.
How to Deal with Telephonophobia?
- Recognize the main problem
While smartphones might be triggering your social anxiety, they are seldom the route of the problem. All things considered, they have only given us more possibilities to avoid direct conversations by texting or sending an email. Therefore, they are not the main cause of your anxiety.
Various factors can be the route of the problem. You might be afraid of not seeing a caller's facial expression, not being able to formulate a response quickly enough, being judged or you are scared of human contact altogether. In any case, recognizing what it is that makes your stomach flip is the key to facing it.
- Work on the cause of your anxiety
Depending on the cause of your phone anxiety, you can approach it in different ways. If you are afraid of not being a good speaker, you can practice structuring your speech. Check if there is a Toastmaster club nearby, which is a nonprofit educational organization that can help you work on your public speaking skills.
Additionally, you can take care of your overall mental health. Taking a yoga or meditation class can help you feel more relaxed (Headspace is a great place to start). If you feel that you cannot manage alone, do not feel embarrassed to ask for professional help. Mental health is a serious issue and should be treated as such.
- Know what you are going to say
Before making or answering a call, take a deep breath and consider what you want to say. If the conversation is very important, you can even spend a few minutes to write down some key points. Use those to guide the conversation. Doing this will make you feel more in control and avoid the awkward pauses.
- Start small
Approach your fear gradually. Commit to the goal of making one phone call daily. First conversations can be with someone from your family or a close circle of friends. Once you feel more confident talking to them, start scheduling calls with someone you don’t know that well. Day by day, you will see that it’s not as scary as it seems and a challenge like this can be quite fun.
- See the bigger picture
At the end of the day, technology is making our lives significantly easier. And being able to make a call is something we should be grateful for and enjoy. Think how that particular call will improve your career, advance your project or simply get a pizza delivered to your doorsteps. Remember: no matter how that scary phone call goes, you will be just fine.
Do you also suffer from phone anxiety? If yes, what are your tricks to get over it? Let us know, we would love to hear from you!
Marta @ onoff