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Dealing with social anxiety at work

4 min read
21 October 2021

If you struggle with social anxiety, getting a job can feel really scary. Aimee, 17, shares how she's overcome challenges in her new job as a waitress.

If that negative voice in your head starts saying you shouldn’t be anxious, or you should be able to handle things better, don’t listen to it. You’re doing much better than you think.

Living with social anxiety constantly exposes you to new challenges every day, and almost every time you face a challenge, you grow in confidence and learn new things about yourself. One of these challenges includes getting a job, which can be extremely difficult for someone with anxiety, especially if the job means you have to deal with the public.

I recently got a job as a waitress, which was extremely challenging for me. I got nervous every time I had to talk to someone, and working as part of the team and meeting so many new people at once was very mentally draining. One of the hardest things I found was asking for help when I needed it, or owning up to my mistakes. I felt like I needed to do everything perfectly from the start.

I recently got a job as a waitress, which was extremely challenging for me.

During my first week, I was nervous every time I walked through the doors. Everything I did was out of my comfort zone, from learning to use the system to working quickly, asking for help, and, most of all, talking to and meeting new people. Now, almost a month in, I’ve served hundreds of customers, learnt to use the system and every day I do something new. I would never have imagined doing this a month ago, and I know the thought of it for many people is incredibly daunting, and that is completely okay. But I think the best way to tackle that anxiety is to just do it. Do the things your anxiety is telling you not to do.

I know this is much easier said than done, but if you’re in a job where you have to face things that scare you, the more you think about it and focus on your anxiety, the harder it becomes. The anxiety about doing the task turns into a huge thing in your head and that can be even more scary and daunting than the actual task itself. The longer you spend putting something off, the harder it becomes. If you see something that needs to be done, go and do it before you have time to overthink it. It may be hard at first, but I promise it will get easier.

The more you think about it and focus on your anxiety, the harder it becomes.

If you have a job that involves anything out of your comfort zone, remember that it’s okay to be anxious or nervous. Everyone was a beginner once, and it’s completely normal to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; if you would be willing to help someone, I can guarantee someone will be willing to help you.

You’re doing an amazing job – you’re facing your fears and silencing that voice in your head. That’s not an easy thing to do, and it takes real courage. So if that negative voice in your head starts saying you shouldn’t be anxious, or you should be able to handle things better, don’t listen to it. You’re doing much better than you think.

If you have a job that involves anything out of your comfort zone, remember that it’s okay to be anxious or nervous.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • YoungMinds Textline

    Text YM to 85258

    Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • No Panic

    Supports people struggling with panic attacks, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety-related issues - and provides support and information for their carers.

    Offers a specialist youth helpline for people aged 13-20. The opening hours are 3pm - 6pm, Monday - Friday; 6pm - 8pm, Thursdays and Saturdays.

    Call 01952 680835 for a recorded breathing exercise to help you through a panic attack (available 24/7).

    Information about call costs here.

    Opening times:
    10am - 10pm, 365 days a year
  • The Mix

    Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them.

    Email support available via their online contact form.

    Free 1-2-1 webchat service available.

    Free short-term counselling service available.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, seven days a week

Thanks for sharing your story Aimee, 17

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