How To Deal With Phone Anxiety

If you have a fear of talking on the phone, know that you aren't alone. "Telephonophobia", "telephobia", or "phone phobia" is the fear of making or taking phone calls, or more specifically, telephones in general.

Phobias are often linked to a frightening event or stressful situation from our past. For example, somebody may develop the fear after having a negative experience over getting a call about a breakup or a bad medical diagnosis. Often, however, telephone phobia is due to social anxiety.

Social anxiety is when you’re so worried about being judged by others that important things in your life become hard. Fun fact: it’s actually the third largest mental health care problem in the world today. Studies have shown that it affects about 7% of the population at any given time. You can learn more about social anxiety here.

A fear of talking on the phone may be considered a phobia when your hesitance to make and receive calls causes you to experience common symptoms associated with phobias, such as severe anxiety, shortness of breath, or a racing heartbeat.

Symptoms

If you answer "yes" to any of these, your phone fear may indeed be a phobia.

Before and after calls do you:

  • Feel extremely anxious?

  • Delay making phone calls due to anxiety? Maybe even by days, weeks, or months?

  • Worry about bothering the other person?

  • Worry about what you will say?

  • Worry about embarrassing yourself?

  • Avoid making calls or having others call you?

  • Obsess about what was said after calls?

  • Wish that it would go straight to voicemail? Or even wish there was a way to go automatically to voicemail?

  • Dial with shaky hands and have irregular breathing?

Remember: having phone anxiety is not the end of the world. In today's society, the percentage of people who actually use their cell phones to talk on the phone is slim. What was once a major form of communication, taking up hours of many people's days, is now not only more limited but may be going the way of mailed letters and telegrams. Even though this may be true, talking on the phone is still a vital skill that we may need for another couple centuries. Instead of wishing for the days where everyone just texts, there are some ways to get better at talking on the phone.

Here are some strategies that you can try at home to help you cope with phone anxiety:

  •  Reward yourself after you make a phone call or respond to a voicemail.
  • Take deep breaths and put a smile on your face before taking a call.
  • Listen to calming music or sounds.
  • If you are concerned about interrupting someone when you call, ask whether you are catching the person at a bad time. If the person is in the middle of something, this gives them the chance to offer to call you back.
  • Visualize yourself making these hard calls.
  • Know that there are other forms of communications and phone calls may not be the best option, but don’t avoid phone calls. (Face your problems face first!)

In our fast-paced, ever-changing, technology-driven society, we all need telephones in our lives for better or worse. If you suffer from phone anxiety, know that you aren't alone. There are people around the world who suffer from the same things you do, and help is out there. The more you do it, the less daunting it will seem. Set concrete goals and see them through. You got this.

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