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Video Conferencing Tips for
Social Anxiety Sufferers

Video Conferencing

Social anxiety affects people to varying degrees, but it can impact every aspect of life. Social anxiety sufferers often dread public situations, which can make work, school and socialising very difficult. 

In these unprecedented times, many people are transitioning to working from home instead of in an office. Whilst this can help those with social anxiety in some situations, tasks such as video calling can induce feelings of panic and dread.

In this case, what can employers do to make their employees feel more comfortable working from home? Also, what can social anxiety sufferers do to make video conferencing easier? We’ve spoken to Dorothy Edgar, on behalf of Steve Dell Hypnotherapy, to find out...

What is Social Anxiety?

Social anxiety or social phobia is one of the most common anxiety disorders, as it is estimated that it has a 12% prevalence rate, which is double the prevalence of general anxiety disorder.

Social anxiety is commonly associated with shyness, however, in reality the condition is a lot more severe. This disorder causes an intense fear of social situations, and some of the worst sufferers feel nauseous and anxious in public, dread everyday activities and avoid going out in public altogether. 

Social Anxiety Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms experienced by social anxiety sufferers include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling

They also might:

  • Avoid going to social gatherings
  • Avoid starting a conversation
  • Avoid making eye contact 

What Causes Social Anxiety?

There’s no singular cause of social anxiety disorder. Research shows that it is caused by a combination of environmental factors and genetics, however, this can vary from person to person.

Sometimes, social phobia is triggered by negative life experiences such as bullying and sexual abuse. On the other hand, genetics, physical abnormalities and brain chemicals can also contribute to the onset of this disorder.

Why Does Video Conferencing Trigger Social Anxiety?

If you work from home, it’s likely that you’ll have to speak to your team members via phone or video call from time to time. This is a challenge for social anxiety sufferers because video and phone calls can trigger feelings of panic and dread. 

Despite the distance between group members, a group conference call is still seen as a social situation by social phobia sufferers. Some people may refrain from answering calls altogether, as they are overly worried, anxious or fearful of embarrassment.

How to Support Social Anxiety Sufferers

If someone on your team has social anxiety, there are several ways that you can help them feel more comfortable whilst working from home.

  1. Always give notice
    If you do need to call someone with social anxiety disorder, it’s always good practise to give them a heads up so that they can prepare for the call. You should explain who is going to be on the call, as well as how long it will take and state what information you need so that your team-mate feels more at ease and prepared.
  2. Consider exchanging voice notes
    The pressure to sustain a phone call may be too much for social anxiety sufferers, so you’ll need to look to other methods of exchanging information. Voice notes are a great, fast way to send information in a short space of time. Offering this option to your team as an alternative to a phone call might help anxiety sufferers whilst working from home.
  3. Space out phone calls
    Regular phone calls might be too much for social phobia sufferers to handle. As a result, it’s important to space out phone calls as much as possible.

Video Conferencing Tips 

If you are suffering from this disorder, there are a few things that you can do to manage your anxiety whilst working from home. 

  • Practise calling family and friends - Build your confidence by calling friends and family first, then, you can escalate to video calling. This is a form of exposure therapy that can help you to get used to video calling at home.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare - Before you take the call, practise what you want to say and what you want to bring up. It’s important to remember that the call may not go exactly as planned, but preparation can help you to feel more confident in your responses. 
  • Postpone calls when needed - Self-care and support is essential whilst working from home. If you’re struggling to cope, it’s important to make your mental health a priority and postpone calls until you’re ready. You can always get in touch via text, email or voice recording.

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