You know that knot in your guts when you just hit send and are not all in to receive a reply yet. Sending a text to inform your boss of a medical leave, for instance. You must have felt nervous, or worse, anxious, about the reply you are going to get. This is known as text anxiety.
However, some people feel this for every single text they get, regardless of anyone. Whether from their boss or just friends, all texts make them anxious.
Troubled By The ‘Tinks’ Of Incoming Texts
What does text anxiety feel like? And how may those dreadful feelings be subdued?
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As the name suggests, texting anxiety is just that—anxiety related to texting on a phone or other smart device. There are occasions when it may even manifest as bodily signs like nervousness and sweaty palms. You send something out into the world and it’s natural to feel uneasy until you receive feedback, so having constant text exchanges gives you limitless possibilities to feel left out.
The Root Cause
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Our brains are conditioned to interpret a wide range of verbal and nonverbal clues during face-to-face interactions. There are no facial expressions to rely on to convey emotion, no body language to emphasize points or demonstrate personality, and no voice to convey tone.
The absence of these non-verbal clues makes us doubt the feelings of the person at the end of the line. Are they hurt, mad, or happy? Or are they hurt and mad but choose to act happy to not worry you? We will never know. This fear due to the unknown is what makes us anxious.
Deal With Texting Anxiety
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You don’t have to accept a lifetime of anxiety just because you want to text. If you feel panicky, insecure, and uncertain while texting, the following advice can help lessen your feelings:
1. Observe Before Hitting Send
Anxious people tend to over-talk in text because they do not want to seem ‘weak’ in a conversation. They want to get as much information from the other person as possible. Their anxiety makes them demand responses quickly. Eventually, they will end up losing the person and they end up feeling much more miserable. To avoid this, sit back and take a breather before responding. Prioritize observing the situation rather than bulldozing through, and quickly hitting ‘send’.
2. Understand That People Have Lives
Remember that people have something going on in their lives too. They are not attached to their phones, hence why they can’t get back to you as soon as you want them to. Take a deep breath and distract yourself with a pastime to stop yourself from making up scenarios that will make you feel more anxious.
3. Be Wise & Prepared
When you are starting a chat with someone via text, keep in mind that there are possibilities for misunderstandings to occur. Therefore, what you can do is lower your expectations because in-text communication won’t be as clear-cut as in-person communication.
Some people find that their text anxiety overwhelms them at times, but there are a number of strategies one can try that can help reduce tension and feelings of uncertainty. Always remember that texting is not the only method we have to communicate from a long distance. Make use of phone calls if you need to hear voices to calm your anxiety down.
Understand Digital Netiquette for a better digital life.