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These are 4 simple strategies to overcome phone anxiety

For the past few years, phone call anxiety has plagued my life. Every time I thought about phoning someone, I’d get knots in my stomach. It got so bad that calling people made me feel dizzy, nauseous, or sweaty. Yeah, it was bad.

Phone call anxiety seems to be fairly common nowadays. This is especially the case for millennials, who are used to using social media and text to communicate about lighter topics. Phone calls are thus reserved for urgent matters – which means we associate phone calls with anxiety. While email means that we don’t have to call people as often as older generations did, phone calls are sometimes unavoidable. 

[bctt tweet=” While email means that we don’t have to call people as often as older generations did, phone calls are sometimes unavoidable.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Knowing this, I decided things needed to change. So far, I’ve made a lot of progress. This is because I’ve been working on certain mental health and anxiety techniques for a few months, and I’ve finally found a method and mindset that’s working for me.

Of course, my own methods won’t work for everyone. I’m not telling people with phone call anxiety that it’s easy to overcome it: your struggles are totally valid and you’re not weak for struggling with it.

But for those of you who are trying to tackle their phone call anxiety, I want to share a few steps I took. I really hope they’ll help you, too.

1. I tried to understand my anxiety

A GIF from Toy Story 3. Woody, the toy cowboy, is holding a phone and looking very anxious.

Understanding the root of your anxiety is a great way to tackle it. It’s a good reminder that you’re not silly or weak for feeling the way you feel. Social anxiety of all kinds is totally understandable, and talking to people – on the phone or in person – can be draining.

My fear wasn’t totally unjustified: as mentioned, I’m a millennial and I’m not used to making phone calls unless it’s a scary, urgent situation. Additionally, texting allows you to edit your words, and voice notes can be canceled if you make a mistake, while phone calls mean your errors are out there forever.

I used to feel ashamed of my anxiety because it felt so foolish, which made me feel even more incapable and anxious. Understanding the reasons why I felt anxious meant I went a little easier on myself.

2. I visualized my phone calls

A GIF of Jake the Dog from the series, 'Adventure Time'. He's saying, 'Let's use our imaginations, man!'

Often, anxiety has a compounding effect. We’ll feel anxious, then our anxiety will make us more anxious, and then we get anxious about the overwhelming layers of anxiety we have to wade through.

Our fear of anxiety is often half the problem. In my case, I’d assume that the phone call would make me nervous and that I’d mess up. To combat this problem, I soothingly told myself it would be perfectly fine. I convinced myself it would be okay. I visualized the phone call going really well. I imagined how accomplished I’d feel when the phone call was over.

In my experience, visualization is a very difficult skill to master, but it’s really useful in times like these.

3. I tried to make as many pleasant phone calls as possible

A GIF from Scary Movie. It includes many frames of multiple characters on the phone. They're all saying 'whassuuuuup'

The old saying to ‘face your fears’ is often used to dismiss anxiety disorder, but in essence, it can be helpful. Exposure therapy can be effective when it comes to anxiety. The more we expose ourselves to our fears in a controlled environment, the better we can handle it. An anxiety-inducing won’t seem daunting if you do it often.

Phone calls are no exception. For me, I tried to make as many pleasant phone calls as often. That meant calling my mom to chat, calling my roommate when I was out of town, and voice noting people when I got the chance. This gave me an opportunity to show myself that phone calls weren’t as scary as I thought they were.

[bctt tweet=”Exposure therapy can be effective when it comes to anxiety. Phone calls are no exception.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Of course, this exposure should be as relaxing as possible. There’s nothing like facing a scary task only to have your deepest fear come true – you want to do it in a safe, relaxed environment. 

4. I celebrated my victories

A GIF of a young kid on a TV show. Celebratory confetti is raining down on him.

Whenever I made a phone call, I celebrated a lot. I bragged about it to my roommate, I wrote it down in my journal, I told my friends. Celebrating your triumph over anxiety is a good way to encourage yourself to try again. More importantly, it cements your victory in your mind. Whenever you feel anxious about making a phone call, you can look back and remind yourself of all the times you managed to call someone.

[bctt tweet=” Celebrating your triumph over anxiety is a good way to encourage yourself to try again.” username=”wearethetempest”]

If you’re struggling with anxiety, I want you to know that I believe in you. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel anxious, but that there is hope for you. If you mess up a few times, that’s okay. It’s a skill, and by definition, skills take time to acquire.

While my anxiety isn’t 100% cured, I’ve made immense progress. I can finally make appointments, book tickets, and call people to ask for information. The anxiety that remains is manageable.

I feel like a huge obstacle has been lifted from my life, making the world much more accessible to me.

By Sian Ferguson

Based in South Africa, Sian is the proud parent of three cats and numerous pot plants. Sian is a freelance health journalist. She has been passionate about reading and writing for as long as she can remember, so working as a writer and editor is a dream come true for her. In her spare time, she loves cooking, baking, and learning about astrology.