Dealing with textxiety

In this podcast (episode #566) and blog, I talk about how to manage texting anxiety (yes, it’s a thing!).

I am sure you have had the experience where you see a text come through and your heart just sinks into your stomach.Texting anxiety is so real that it even has its own coined term, "textxiety"!

In fact, many people feel a sense of unease, worry, and stress when texting. Although this may sound strange, it is important to remember that texting is another form of communication—it makes sense that it could cause someone to feel a sense of anxiety. 

Some people may worry that their messages will be misinterpreted or taken out of context. They are concerned that the recipient will not understand the intended tone or meaning of their messages. For others, texting can create a sense of urgency; someone may feel pressured to respond immediately, which can lead to anxiety, especially when they are unable to reply promptly. In other cases, someone may obsessively review and revise their messages before sending them, fearing that any wording or phrasing could be problematic. This can add a lot of stress to a conversation. And some people may find texting stressful as they are not able to read the nonverbal cues that they rely on in face to face interactions. 

If you are someone who battles with texting anxiety, I recommend using the Neurocycle mind management method I have developed and studied over the past three decades, which I discuss in detail in my book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and my app Neurocycle. It has 5 steps:

Steps 1-3: gather, reflect and write down how you feel when a text comes in. Try to analyze why texting gives you anxiety. Take into account your emotions, behaviors, bodily sensations, and perspective when you receive a text. Sit with these feelings and write them down to help organize your thinking and bring clarity to the situation. Use who/what /when/where/why questions to find the pattern behind your reactions. 

Step 4: recheck. Once you feel like you understand the meaning behind your anxiety better, try to come up with solutions to alleviate the stress you feel when texting. This will take you to:

Step 5: the active reach. This is a thought or action you need to practice daily to help you reconceptualize what you worked through in the previous step. What are you going to do each day to give yourself the time and mental space needed to deal with what is bothering you and turn this situation into something constructive? Here are some examples:

  • Establish clear boundaries for when and how often you engage in texting. It's okay to take breaks from your phone!
  • Send a text to someone that you will reply to later when you get the chance in order to alleviate the stress that comes with feeling bad about not replying. 
  • Take a moment to think before responding, especially if the conversation is emotionally charged. Avoid rushing to reply when you're upset or anxious!
  • If certain individuals consistently cause text anxiety, consider blocking or muting their messages temporarily. This can provide relief and time for you to regroup.
  • Be kind to yourself and recognize that it's normal to make mistakes or experience anxiety in communication and texting is a form of communication just like any other! Remind yourself of this.
  • If you can, put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode when you are working or at night when you are sleeping.
  • Tell people that you do not answer texts during certain hours.
  • Categorize your texts with colors and pictures, so that you know what to read first and what to leave until you feel better prepared.
  • If a text is causing you a lot of anxiety, perhaps get someone else to read it first.
  • Before opening a text, prepare yourself with breathing exercises or movement like yoga stretches to ground you. 

The key thing to remember that text anxiety is a pretty common experience. It is not something to be ashamed of! It's okay to seek help or employ strategies to alleviate it. By incorporating these practices into your digital communication routine, you can make texting a less stressful and more enjoyable means of connecting with others. 

For more on texting anxiety, listen to my podcast (episode #566). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).     

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Podcast Highlights

3:20 Text anxiety is a real thing! 

5:30, 8:44 Signs that you may be experiencing text anxiety

13:00, 19:33 How to manage text anxiety

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional

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