12 Things That Are Hard to Do When You Have Anxiety

12 Things That Are Hard to Do When You Have Anxiety

Pink notepad with pink paintbrush

I could make this a pretty short post because life in general is hard when you have anxiety. But I thought it would be useful to give some specific examples, share the thought processes and offer some potential solutions.

1. Making phone calls.

Thoughts:

  • What if I have the wrong number? 
  • What if the line is unclear and I can’t hear them properly?
  • Maybe they’re busy. I shouldn’t interrupt. 

Tempting Solution: Never make a call again. Ever.

Realistic Solution: I’m going to assume you’re like me and only make calls for essential things like appointments. Sadly, we are yet to reach the stage when they’re no longer necessary. So, the best course of action here is to jot down a script to follow when you make the call. You should keep the pen and paper handy in case they give you any information you need to remember later! For other matters, a lot of places have alternative options, like a live chat via their website. If you don’t require an immediate response, an email may suffice.

2. Taking something back.

Thoughts:

  • What if they don’t believe me that it’s broken/doesn’t fit/other?
  • Did I misread the receipt?
  • Everyone else in the queue will stare at me.
  • I’m just being awkward, I’ll just keep hold of it.

Tempting Solution: Keep everything you buy, regardless of whether it’s suitable. In the process, waste money and miss out on other things you actually want.

Realistic Solution: While you can donate your goods to charity and prevent the accumulation of useless items, that doesn’t solve the money issue. I tend to wait until a good brain day to return things, or I ask Neal nicely to do it. You could ask somebody to do it, or at the very least accompany you. Double check all of the information on the receipt so you know what’s what. Approach the sales assistant in a polite way and there shouldn’t be any issues.

3. Getting a haircut.

Thoughts: 

  • There’s going to be lots of small talk – argh!
  • What if they mess it up and I look terrible?

Tempting Solution: Let your hair grow down to your ankles.

Realistic Solution: If it would make you feel more comfortable, invite someone to go with you. I sometimes feel more at ease with a familiar face around. Also, there are plenty of salons to choose from. If you go to one and don’t enjoy it, try a different one. Once you find one you like, you can stick with it and make it part of your routine. Try to keep in mind that 1) the hairdresser is probably making small talk to be friendly and 2) hair grows back.

4. Meeting new people.

Thoughts:

  • They’re not going to like me.
  • Why am I so awkward?
  • Will they think I’m rude if I don’t say much?

Tempting Solution: Avoid all social interactions with strangers.

Realistic Solution: I feel this particularly example is where “your thoughts are not facts” really comes into play. You don’t know this person and they don’t know you. You can’t read minds so how are you to say they won’t like you? Anxiety is causing you to assume the worst. Those thoughts are not necessarily true. Besides, if you meet someone new and for whatever reason they don’t like you, that’s their loss. Evidently, they weren’t supposed to play an important part in your life!

5. Ordering food.

Thoughts:

  • That dish with the fancy looking name sounds divine but there’s no way I can pronounce that.
  • They’re staring at me – am I taking too long to order?

Tempting Solution: Accept the fact you don’t need to go out for food. Have every meal in the comfort of your own home.

Realistic Solution:  The majority of larger chains have their menus available online. Take a look before you head out and choose a few things. This way, you have a backup option if your original choice isn’t available. As for them staring at you, it’s purely to show they’re paying attention and not to put any pressure on you.

6. Sharing something you’ve done.

Thoughts:

  • This is lame.
  • They’re going to think it’s rubbish.
  • It was probably better in my head.

Tempting Solution: Keep everything you do to yourself.

Realistic Solution: Tell the people that you trust. Once you’ve had their feedback, you can choose to share it with more people, if you want to. Oh, and by the way – we are 100% our harshest critics so, chances are, whatever negatives you’ve thought of will never even cross their mind.

7. Buying presents.

Thoughts:

  • What if they hate it? 
  • Do they even still like this stuff anymore?
  • They always get me great presents and mine will suck.

Tempting Solution: Skip Christmas, birthdays and any occasion where gift-giving is involved.

Realistic Solution: Where possible, get a second opinion. Then pass the blame if they don’t like it ;). Okay, that second part is a joke. In all seriousness, you can discuss your gift ideas with someone else who knows them to get a bit of reassurance. Alternatively, they may know of a better option!

8. Job hunting.

Thoughts:

  • No one is calling me because they know my C.V. is a lie.
  • What if I never find a job?
  • I have an interview, I think I’m going to be sick. 

Tempting Solution: Pray to all the powers that be that some sort of perfect job will pop up out of nowhere.

Realistic Solution: Let’s face it, everyone’s C.V. is a little bit over the top. That’s the point of it – to big yourself up so an employer snaps you up! Most companies are inundated with applications and it’s simply not feasible to respond to everyone in a lot of cases. Following on from that, job hunting requires a lot of patience these days. It can feel like you’ll never catch a break but you will! As for interviews, they are nerve-wracking at the best of times, let alone when you have anxiety to contend with. The best advice I can give for this is do as much preparation as you can and remember to breathe. You’ll be okay!

9. Going somewhere for the first time.

Thoughts:

  • I’m going to get lost.
  • What if I can’t find my way in?

Tempting Solution: Stick to what you know.

Realistic Solution: When I started counselling, I had some idea of where the office was but I wasn’t 100% convinced. The night before, Neal and I had a walk along so I could check it out and get an idea of how long it would take me to get there. This is a great way to ease some of your worries, so I recommend doing this if it’s a viable option. If not, perhaps try looking on Google maps to plan a route and identify nearby landmarks?

10. Using any form of transport.

Thoughts:

  • What if it doesn’t turn up?
  • How likely is it to break down or crash?
  • What if I miss my stop?

Tempting Solution: Give yourself the rule that, unless you can walk there, you’re not going.

Realistic Solution: I know anxiety would have us believing differently, but most of these things are unlikely. Travelling is a HUGE source of stress for me. It’s probably one of the most anxiety-inducing activities. You can ask anyone I’ve ever travelled with and they’ll tell you: I’m not very good at it. I want to be, but no. A technique I learnt at counselling – and put into practice on a solo coach trip to Edinburgh – was to write down each of my worries and what I would do if those situations arose. This was a really good exercise and I kept the piece of paper with me on my journey. If anything was to go wrong, I had some sort of plan which had been made while I was thinking clearly and not panicking.

11. Maintaining relationships.

Thoughts:

  • I’m annoying them. 
  • They don’t actually like me, they just tolerate me. 
  • I’m a burden and I shouldn’t inflict myself on others.
  • They’d be happier without me.

Tempting Solution: Forget people. Just have pets.

Realistic Solution: While I’m not entirely against a life with just pets, I don’t think it would be the healthiest course of action. It’s good to have relationships with people, too. To reiterate a previous point, your thoughts are not facts. These are based on your own opinions of yourself. The people that love you see things you can’t always identify in yourself.

12. Relax.

Thoughts: 

  • My mind is going a million miles a minute and people want me to relax?!
  • I’m just going to sit here and replay every conversation I’ve had in the past few weeks to see what I did wrong. 
  • Remember that time you tripped over and everyone saw?
  • I have so much to do.
  • I wonder if I’ll ever feel normal.
  • The future freaks me out.

Tempting Solution: Continue putting up with these thoughts zooming around your mind.

Realistic Solution: I have two solutions here. Firstly, find things that really help you to relax. Even if that’s being asleep. Identify things you can include in a self care routine and do them regularly. The second option is to ask for help. Since taking medication and attending counselling, anxiety still causes me issues, but it feels manageable for the most part. I don’t feel on edge every single day and, with the help of my counsellor, I’ve been able to identify techniques which help me out a little. Without help, it feels big and controllable, but it’s actually just a case of learning how to keep it in check.

The difficulty with anxiety is that it causes a sort of mental paralysis. It’s very hard to get out of that mindset. So, although these seem like normal, every day tasks, they can be incredibly tricky to navigate as an anxiety sufferer. The days when I can pick up a phone and make a call without a four hour build up beforehand are a major win for me, for example. While it appears I have had a little fun with my “tempting solutions”, these are genuine thoughts I’ve had in the past. Because life with anxiety is hard, and everything is a battle, but we mustn’t let it win.

12 Things That Are Hard to Do When You Have Anxiety

Simple Tasks With Anxiety
Life With Anxiety
Dealing With Anxiety

26 Comments

  • Kate 10th April 2019 at 11:21 am

    What an excellent post! I couldn’t agree more with getting more pets and forgetting about people. Unfortunately, having pets doesn’t pay the bills 🙂
    I don’t relate to all of these points because your anxiety seems to be much more socially oriented than mine, which can pretty much be summarised like so: “what if I die there/then/here/now/with them/alone/in front of everyone?”
    I really like the tip the therapist gave you for dealing with public transport. I’ll keep it in mind if I ever have to get near a train again.
    Also, your new blog theme looks amazing and if I wasn’t on your mailing list yet, I’d want to subscribe because the opt-in is very appealing.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th April 2019 at 9:59 am

      Thank you so much, Kate! 🙂

  • Samantha Mann 10th April 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Love this post 🙂
    Really motivating and also relatable.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th April 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thank you 🙂

  • Nyxie 10th April 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Hate, hate, hate making phone calls. I can’t express it enough. In fact, everything on this list is far too much for me most days.

    Anxiety is the devil.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th April 2019 at 10:00 am

      Agreed!

  • Taryn 10th April 2019 at 12:19 pm

    I relate so hard!! I have most of the thoughts mentioned in the post. I just didn’t realise this is part of anxiety. I thought I’m an anti social being. It really makes a lot of sense. I usually put off things till I can’t avoid not doing something about the situation. Phone calls especially. But no one is gonna keep me away from the unpronounceable dish that looks Devine. I can’t do myself wrong like that.

    • ruthinrevolt 11th April 2019 at 10:01 am

      I love your determination to get that good food 😉 A few of these things have always been hard for me because I’m naturally a very shy person, but when it reached the point when I felt physically unable to do them, I knew there was something bigger at play.

  • Zoë 10th April 2019 at 6:24 pm

    This is all 100% true. Phone calls are the absolute worst for me. I had to call up my bank once as there was something wrong with the account and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying because his accent was so thick, honestly it made me feel like I was being really rude when I said I couldn’t understand him. Then I just had a big cry. I literally hate phone calls, never call me. I always hold back on sharing things Ive done incase people think Im just being stupid, boring or attention seeking : (
    Loved this post, I literally outlines all of my biggest problems when it comes to anxiety! xx

    http://zoe-ware.com

    • ruthinrevolt 11th April 2019 at 10:05 am

      I’ve had a few of those situations as well! It sends my anxiety into overdrive if I finally manage to make the call and then have a curveball like a thick accent or a fuzzy phone line. Thank you for reading and commenting, lovely! 🙂

  • Megan Elizabeth 11th April 2019 at 2:50 pm

    Totally agree with this list Ruth! I find phone calls hard especially when there’s a long pause and I have no clue what to say. It’s great how you’ve done an unhealthy vs healthy solution. It’s really made me think about how I can change the way I do things!

    Megan | https://meganelizabethlifestyle.com/

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:47 pm

      I know what you mean about the long pauses – I find them so uncomfortable! Thanks for reading and commenting 🙂

  • Lauren 11th April 2019 at 3:28 pm

    I can relate to some of these so much! I hate making phone calls 😩 job hunting and interviews, makes me anxious just thinking about them. I love how you haven’t written the situations. Thank you for sharing, it’s nice to know you aren’t alone in thoughts and feelings. Xx

  • Kim 11th April 2019 at 11:56 pm

    I relate to this so much! I hate making phone calls or meeting new people or going somewhere new. Argh, just the thought of it sends my mind into over drive and makes me feel anxious. Thanks for sharing your tips for over coming each scenario, I’ll definitely be taking these on board and will be trying out no. 2 over the weekend.

  • K 13th April 2019 at 4:23 am

    This is a totally relatable post! I usually overthink things a lot. I’m going to have to explore the tips you gave here. 😅

  • Shayla 13th April 2019 at 12:18 pm

    This post popped up right in the nick of time for me. I have a lot of anxiety about going live, making videos etc because anxiety can be a whole pain in the ass.. I have a deep fear of rejection.. kinda the meeting people for the first time “will the hate me” thing. You are GODDESS for writing tips to help people cope. It can feel daunting at times but when you know you’re not alone it’s ok.

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:48 pm

      I know exactly what you mean about the videos stuff! I feel frustrated a lot because I know it would be a great step but I feel paralysed when I think about it. I think you’d be awesome at it, though!

  • Nati Macchiato 14th April 2019 at 1:20 am

    Ruth you always manage to hit the nail right on the head when it comes to discussing mental health, and as someone who totally relates to this, I really appreciate it and wish I could send it to everyone who doesn’t get it! So basically, thanks for being you – you’re simply wonderful!

    have a lovely Sunday!

    Nati x | http://www.natimacchiato.com

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:50 pm

      Aw, Nati, every single comment you leave just makes my day. Thank YOU for being you – it’s a real pleasure to have crossed paths with you.

  • Laura 14th April 2019 at 8:13 pm

    I’m so happy #1 was making phone calls because that is the hardest one out of all these for me!

    Xoxo,
    Laura || afinnontheloose.com

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:53 pm

      Same! Thank you for reading and commenting, lovely!

  • Eena 15th April 2019 at 3:09 am

    This is seriously 100% true, especially making phone calls. Since I’m a nurse and I make phone calls to several doctors while I’m at work, I think that part has gotten a little better for me but it still does terrify me to no end.

    cabin twenty-four

    • ruthinrevolt 22nd April 2019 at 3:54 pm

      I know what you mean – in one of my previous jobs, I had to make a lot of phone calls and it made a considerable difference. That said, I still freak out when I have to do it… just maybe not for quite as long as I used to.

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    After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety then receiving treatment, I wanted to turn my situation into something constructive. So, with a lifelong passion for writing and a renewed sense of determination, I took a step out of my comfort zone and began putting all my efforts into creating a positive space online.

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