The Mighty Logo

8 Tips for Managing Phone Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Some days I pick up the phone without any thought, and easily make it through the calls I need to make. On other days, it isn’t so easy. I struggle with anxiety and depression, therefore there are times my brain doesn’t function the way I’d like it to. When I’m depressed, working up the energy to even lift the phone to my ear is enough to stop me from dialing. Anxiety though tends to be what stops me the most. When I’m anxious, I worry I won’t know what to say, I’ll say the wrong thing and in general, it won’t work out how I’d hoped.

I have a few tips I’d like to share, that have helped me when I’ve had phone anxiety. I hope they can help, and I’d love to hear any tips you may have in the comments.

1. Write down the important information needed for the phone call. 

By writing down the main points of why I’m calling, I feel like I am less likely to say the wrong thing, or forget something important. I find this really helps, as those are some of my main reasons for phone anxiety.

2. Have a paper calendar.

If you are anything like me, you keep just about everything in your phone, including your schedule. Usually this works out just fine, until I’m on my phone and need to make an appointment. Then I have to do some awkward juggling to press the right buttons, while still holding a conversation, and this causes anxiety. If I have a calendar out in front of me, this makes it much more easy.

3. Call after hours for the machine.

On some occasions, all I need to do is leave a small message, so it would be much easier to leave a voicemail. In this instance, I purposely call after hours so I know I will get the machine. 

4. Sandwich difficult calls with easy ones.

There are some calls I find more stressful than others. Maybe I don’t mind calling the hairdresser, but hate calling the dentist. I do an easy one first, which helps me build momentum towards the call I find difficult. Then if I have another easy call to make afterwards, it feels even easier.

5. Ask yourself, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

Sometimes I just need to do a little cognitive behavioral therapy on myself. When I question what it is I fear, I can see it is irrational, and work on reshaping my thinking. I can also come up with contingency plans of what I would do if what I fear does actually happen. 

6. Set a time frame.

Most businesses set a time frame for returning calls between 24 and 48 hours, which to me indicates that is a reasonable time frame for myself. This system helps me, as it keeps what I need to do on my radar, but allows me to decide when would be the best time to call within the frame. This system gives me structure as well as freedom, and that tends to lessen my anxiety.

7. Use other forms of communication. 

There are times where my anxiety wins out, and I choose to communicate in a different way. There are apps for food delivery, email for setting appointments and instant messaging for talking with friends. I tell myself it’s OK to use these other methods, they were invented for a reason.

8. Have a friend or family member make a call for you.

My general theory is that we should do what we can for ourselves, and sometimes that means asking for a little outside help. While it’s important to me to try and work through my fears, I also choose to recognize my limitations and accept support. I have asked friends to make doctors appointments for me, when I couldn’t pick up the phone, and I’m not ashamed of this. While it’s important to not use this all the time, it is an option on occasion.

These are a few of the tips I use to help myself with phone anxiety. Some days I need them, and some days I don’t. If you struggle with phone anxiety, you are not the only one. In fact, I’m certain it’s a common problem for many people. I would love to hear some of the methods you use to get yourself through those pesky phone calls!

Getty Images photo via Farknot_Architect

Originally published: March 29, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home