Phone Anxiety: Stages, Causes and Treatment

phone anxiety

Have you ever made a special effort to evade a call? Is your ringtone’s voice unsettling and distressing to you? Many individuals find it unpleasant to make or receive phone calls, but suffering from severe anxiety can affect their private and professional life. You’re not alone if you dread making phone calls.

For many people, the thought of making phone calls can be pretty stressful and cause anxiety. This kind of anxiety is often termed “phone anxiety.” In this post, we’ll learn more about phone anxiety, including its causes, symptoms, progression, coping mechanisms, and other pertinent information.

What is Phone Anxiety?

Phone anxiety is the fear of phone calls and avoiding them no matter how important. It is a fairly prevalent symptom of social anxiety disorder. When our phone rings, some of us can answer it right away, while others have clammy hands. 

In a day where we constantly have our phones with us, that might sound strange. Technology is used everywhere today.

Even though we seldom go a day without our smartphones, many individuals still have intense anxiety about making phone calls. In the modern age, having phone anxiety could make it difficult for you to go about your daily activities.

Stages of Phone Anxiety

Phone anxiety is not an instantaneous reaction that appears out of nowhere but a process that goes through numerous stages. The following six noticeable phases illustrate what phone anxiety truly looks like.

Stage 1

The first stage is when fear starts to take hold and may cause your fight-or-flight response to kick in. (1) This usually happens when your phone starts to ring or you remember you have to make a phone call.

Stage 2

The second stage is when the fear starts to dominate you, but there is still some optimism, and you search for a way out. You try to locate a workaround and choose an alternative to avoid the call by doing your investigation. For example, if your phone starts ringing, you might text the person after you wait for the ringing to stop or find someone nearby to answer the call. 

Stage 3

But if you are unable to postpone making the call for whatever reason, it is time for the third stage. You even feel a bit ridiculous because of the fear of making phone calls. Your heart is still pounding quickly even though you’re trying to calm yourself down and boost your confidence by reminding yourself that you’re competent and strong and that this isn’t a huge problem.

While it may seem unreasonable, there is still a strong likelihood that you may have phone anxiety even if you know that you have no cause for concern.

Stage 4

In this stage, a call is inevitable, and your anxiety peaks. Writing a script for yourself is the most effective method to overcome this fear. You want to be as ready as you can because you know that as the call begins, your mind will start to wander.

Make mental notes to remind yourself to speak more affably, breathe deeply, and speak softly. Also, ensure you have some water so your voice doesn’t dry out and you start to sound strange and lose all your confidence.

Stage 5

This is the stage where you confront your fear. As you welcome the caller, you may feel a weight on your chest, and some parts of your body may become numb. Your hands may shake, and your voice may stutter as you read over your mental notes, but you still manage to complete the call.

Stage 6

The call has finally ended. The entire call period was awful, but it is now done, which brings about a great deal of relief. You get a surge of fear and dread when the phone rings, along with a little amount of resentment for being so unprepared. Most of the time, you’ll just avoid the call, but if it’s an urgent one you must answer, you’ll hastily try to gather yourself and run for a pen and paper. But you’ll manage, and it’ll be done quickly.

What Causes Phone Anxiety?

Numerous things might make someone anxious when they are on the phone. Social anxiety affects many people, regardless of whether it is from an illness or a personality trait. Following are some of the common reasons behind phone anxiety.

Performance anxiety

Performance anxiety is the most frequent reason for phone anxiety. An individual with performance anxiety fears circumstances when they must perform in front of others, such as making a speech, meeting with clients, or doing anything. (2)

Given that it affects so many individuals, this sort of anxiety is among the most prevalent. People with performance anxiety dread or avoid making phone calls out of a concern of getting bad feedback, getting criticized, or eventually being ostracised by others. Beta-blockers for anxiety are commonly utilized one hour before the situation in order to relax and perform well. (3)

PTSD

Any traumatic incident can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This mental illness can be brought on by things that serve as triggers for the sufferer’s memory of the event. (4) The ringtone on their phone will be a constant reminder of the incident for those who may have had a traumatic occurrence, such as hearing terrible news over the phone and may develop PTSD and phone anxiety. Their PTSD may be triggered by phone calls, causing them to avoid talking on the phone at all.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is another factor that may cause phone anxiety in some people. A severe, ongoing worry of being observed and evaluated by others is referred to as social anxiety disorder. (5) As you would feel as though you were constantly being assessed for your voice or anything you may say while on the phone, you would avoid making phone calls. This fear may have a detrimental impact on your life and may even make it challenging to establish and keep friendships.

Depression

Depression is a further factor in phone anxiety. Intense sadness, exhaustion, guilt, and social isolation are a few significant symptoms of depression. (6) People who are through a severe depressive episode tend to isolate themselves and avoid all forms of communication, including draining phone calls.

Insecurity 

You could have speech insecurity, self-consciousness, and discomfort due to your inability to interpret the other person’s body language.

We only use our voices to communicate while we’re on the phone.

We lose a crucial communication component when we can’t consider nonverbal indications.

We are inherently disadvantaged due to this separation, which some individuals find pretty unsettling. When making a phone call, we receive feedback right away based on the person’s tone, which adds to the intimidation.

Shy Personality

Sometimes, being shy and introverted might justify why someone avoids the phone. Since the invention of digital communication, phone calls have declined as messaging and email have outpaced them. Many introverted individuals prefer this method of communication since it is less intrusive than using a phone and enables them to avoid social norms like casual conversation, which may be draining for introverts. (7)

Using digital communication makes it simpler for introverts to manage their interactions and take their time before answering. This may be comforting in contrast to being forced to answer questions during a phone call which can cause anxiety.

phone anxiety

Signs That You Have Phone Anxiety

Phone anxiety might be a sign of any of the several mental illnesses we’ve addressed. The following are typical indications that you could be experiencing phone anxiety:

  • Keeping away from employment or vocations that require talking on the phone, whether placing or receiving calls
  • Avoiding phoning friends or relatives out of concern that it would harm your ties
  • Preferring to contact others via text and email rather than phone calls
  • Calling phone lines you think will go unanswered or will just produce a recorded message
  • Only communicating with intimate friends or relatives.
  • Avoiding any social circumstances that make you uncomfortable or give you any unwarranted worry.

The physical symptoms of phone anxiety include a racing heart, sweaty hands, trembling, difficulty focusing on one thing, and unnecessary pauses while on call.

Even though picking up the phone and placing calls may seem like straightforward tasks that anybody should be able to perform, it may be genuinely distressing if you have phone anxiety.

Since phone anxiety might prevent you from pursuing future employment possibilities and forming enduring connections or relationships, it is critical to recognize these symptoms and learn how to deal with them. Your personal and professional life may suffer if you are afraid to make or receive phone calls. You wouldn’t want to pass up many opportunities only due to a phone fear.

phone anxiety

How does Phone Anxiety Impact an Individual?

Despite the popularity of technologies that allow communication without speaking to a person directly in recent years, the simple phone call has remained a reliable method of contact. Avoiding calls from your workplace, family, or friends might significantly negatively influence your whole life.

A phone call is frequently the first contact a client, customer, or any other prospect has with you. No matter who you are, making an excellent first impression is crucial since it sets your reputation and fosters lasting relationships. However, if you are unwilling to take the call appropriately, your reputation might be in jeopardy, and you could also risk upsetting potential relations.

In the business world, it is impossible to avoid phone conversations. Whether the organization has adopted the online workspace or still emphasizes conventional means of communication like the phone, those with phone anxiety may find it challenging to perform in their position.

It could be challenging for employees who often have phone anxiety to perform their responsibilities. The fear of speaking on the phone may eventually hinder productivity, efficiency, or professional advancement.

Tips to Overcome Phone Anxiety

You don’t have to live your entire life with phone anxiety, it doesn’t have to control you. You’ll notice that as you work to overcome your phone anxiety, your anxiety levels decrease whenever you make or receive phone calls. It will take place eventually. Consider the following coping skills for anxiety to assist you in dealing with your fear of phone calls.

Practice your Phone Conversation.

Your nervousness will be substantially reduced by practicing what you will say on the phone, and you won’t lose your thought process in the middle of the conversation.

Use a conversational tone of voice during the entire phone call to prevent sounding rehearsed. Improve your conversation by practicing with a friend. Recording yourself when you speak on the phone is another helpful technique for enhancing your phone skills and conquering phone anxiety.

Focus on the Purpose of the Call.

Focus on what you want to accomplish during a phone call rather than worrying about what could go wrong. You could also think of suggestions that will make the phone call more effective.

Decide what you want them to accomplish for you. Moreover, consider the other person’s needs and how you will communicate to them, as well as any requirements they could have. Take note of these specifics and focus on the call’s objective rather than your word choice or the recipient’s response.

Understand that Mishaps on Calls are Normal.

Without being pessimistic, you will have to accept that you will make mistakes on calls. You have to understand that making mistakes is common, so stop criticizing yourself for them. You’ll discover that this step is quite beneficial in conquering phone anxiety. No matter how skilled and proficient we are on the phone, we all make mistakes.

You can shift your focus to working on improving those aspects without feeling overly anxious the sooner you face your fears of failing and what could go wrong.

Acknowledge your Phone Anxiety.

Be honest and up-forward about your phone phobia. Make calls to trusted friends and family members to discuss your social anxiety and thoughts.

Seeking a licensed professional for help with your phone anxiety wouldn’t hurt either. Although the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem, all of these individuals in your life can help you overcome your phone anxieties.

phone anxiety

Treatment for Phone Anxiety

Since phone anxiety is genuine and may seriously impede your ability to live a fulfilled life, it has to be treated effectively. If your coping mechanisms are unsuccessful, it’s time to consider your therapy choices to overcome phone anxiety.

Phone anxiety may be treated using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) strategies, including exposure training and cognitive restructuring. (8) You may also utilize various self-help techniques to manage your anxiety when using the phone.

Cognitive restructuring entails questioning assumptions and substituting unhelpful thinking with more uplifting ones. Your negative beliefs will be challenged as a result of these restructuring therapies, and you’ll learn to think more positively and constructively in their place. (9)

Exposure training includes practicing more challenging activities progressively over time. When dealing with phone anxiety, you practice several behaviors until you feel at ease and can advance to the next, more challenging one. (10) In this activity, you will have to go about the following behaviors:

  • Dial a phone number you know will only be answered by a recorded message.
  • Call close relatives or friends.
  • Make a simple inquiry over the phone to a company.
  • Call an acquaintance and ask a straightforward inquiry.
  • Call an acquaintance to discuss a challenging situation.
  • Place each of the calls mentioned above in front of a single individual.
  • Making each of the above calls in front of a gathering.

This pattern may vary depending on whether you like speaking with close friends or strangers or prefer speaking on the phone in front of others.

phone anxiety

Conclusion

In our current day, where we are always glued to our phones, it may seem strange to recognize anything like phone anxiety, but it is genuine.

Phone anxiety is a critical challenge. Even with the abundance of online possibilities, it can be a terrible aspect of social anxiety and is regrettably still unavoidable in modern society. If you have phone anxiety, remember that you are not alone and that you have made it through each call.

It is very natural, and many people have phone anxiety. Even though these emotions are common, that does not imply they cannot have a negative impact on your life. You don’t have to accept things like wasted opportunities and frustration that is simply brought on by phone anxiety.

It could be beneficial to speak with a mental health professional if you discover that your fear of making and receiving phone calls affects other aspects of your life and that you generally have anxieties about any form of communication.

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