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Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist | PSY 22022

Dr. Cassidy Blair, Psy.D.

anxiety triggers
10 Social Anxiety Triggers and Causes

Did you know that nearly 1 in 5 Americans have an anxiety disorder?

Although anxiety may feel like an isolating condition, you’re never alone with your struggles. There is no magical cure for anxiety yet, but there are plenty of ways to cope and heal. One of the most effective ways to decrease your anxiety is to avoid your unique triggers.

Do you want to learn how to better manage your anxiety? Keep reading for 10 common social anxiety triggers you may want to avoid to improve your mental health.

1. Meeting New People Is One of the Biggest Social Anxiety Triggers

If you have social anxiety, you probably feel self-conscious about how strangers perceive you when you first meet. Since you’re unfamiliar with that person, you may worry about how unpredictable the interaction will be. Feeling unprepared to socialize can cause people to stutter, avoid eye contact, or come off as rude.

One way to avoid any awkward introductions is to communicate your needs to your loved ones. If they know how you feel about meeting new people, they won’t put you into stressful social situations without asking for your permission first.

2. Making Phone Calls

Talking on the phone is an uncomfortable medium between intimate face-to-face conversations and laid-back texting. Being unable to read someone’s facial expressions and body language can cause you to panic.

People who are triggered by phone calls may have to take a few minutes to rehearse what they’ll say and gather enough courage to dial.

3. Interacting with Cashiers, Waiters, and Other Customer Service Figures

Plenty of people feel anxious when they have to participate in a normal exchange between a customer and a professional who serves others. Although the conversations are usually predictable, being in a position of power can be intimidating.

People with this trigger may have a hard time buying or returning items, ordering in restaurants or at drive-thrus, and visiting businesses with greeters.

4. Eating During Social Situations

Eating in social situations can be a trigger for many reasons. If you feel self-conscious about your weight, you may feel like people are judging what or how much you’re eating. If you’re eating by yourself, you may worry that onlookers are pitying you because you have no friends.

Other people also can’t enjoy their food when they’re worried about manners. The idea of chewing loudly, getting something stuck in your teeth, and speaking with your mouth full may be unpleasant enough to make you avoid any social situation where eating is expected.

5. Public Speaking

It’s estimated that around 75% of the population dreads public speaking, which makes this an enormous social anxiety trigger. Being the center of attention for a long stretch of time places a lot of pressure on the speaker.

Common fears include being boring, forgetting what you planned to say, looking foolish, and not getting a positive response when you finish talking.

6. Dating

If meeting new people in a casual setting seems hard enough, adding romantic pressure can make going on dates feel like torture. Even if you’re interested in finding a partner, the unpleasant process of obtaining a suitable one can sabotage your love life.

Getting to know romantic interests over text first can help you decide if the two of you are compatible enough to endure an in-person meeting. If the idea of a group date doesn’t make you feel more anxious, bringing along a trusted friend and their date may take some of the tension out of dating.

7. Large Parties or Gatherings

Crowded social environments are unsettling for people with social anxiety because there are lots of opportunities for them to get judged unkindly.

If you stand alone often because you struggle with initiating conversations, people may form negative opinions about your personality. If there are a lot of people who you haven’t met before, you have to turn your charm on for the entire event, which can be exhausting.

Large gatherings are also a source of loud noise and other unpleasant stimuli. If you’re an introvert with social anxiety, this type of environment can make you feel panicked or exhausted.

8. Being Observed

Going to school or work is challenging for people with social anxiety because there are a lot of times throughout the day where they may feel like they’re on display. Feeling someone’s eyes on you even while you do a simple task can make you become self-conscious.

Performance-related social anxiety can flood your thoughts with doubt and insecurities about your skills even if you feel confident doing that activity alone.

9. Unexpected Interactions

When people initiate random conversations with others, they usually mean well. For a person with anxiety, unexpected interactions can achieve the opposite effect that the initiator intended. Engaging in simple pleasantries or getting asked for help may make someone with social anxiety feel like they’re unsafe.

One easy solution for this trigger is to wear headphones or do an activity like reading that will discourage others from talking to you. If someone ignores your social cues and talks to you anyway, at least you’ll have a few extra seconds to mentally prepare for the interaction.

10. Using Public Bathrooms

Going to the bathroom is an intimate activity that everyone can agree is most comfortable to do in our own homes. However, if you’re out and about, your only option may be to use a bathroom that other people are inside.

If you find it hard to relieve yourself or you avoid public bathrooms altogether, this may be a big trigger for your anxiety.

Do You Want to Learn How to Get Rid of Social Anxiety?

Now that you understand the top 10 social anxiety triggers, you can try to avoid situations that upset you. Although avoiding your triggers will help, speaking to a mental health professional is your best chance to get rid of your anxiety for good.

If you’re looking for social anxiety support, Blair Wellness Group would love to help you. Contact us to learn more about our services and to book your first appointment.

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