7 Methods to Cope with Situational Anxiety

Imagine you have to deliver a public speech tomorrow. You will probably feel nervous and anxious, or even lose sleep at the night. In fact, it is a normal phenomenon called situational anxiety. You may have experienced anxiety before an important job interview, your first day at school, or on the first day at work. This form of anxiety is quite common and can happen to anyone at any time. It is not necessarily a sign of anxiety disorder to experience anxiety from time to time. Therefore, do not worry and read the following article to learn more about situational anxiety.

If you are anxious right now, How to Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You by Albert Ellis is also a choice.


  • What Is Situational Anxiety?
  • Situational Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorders
  • Signs and Symptoms of Situational Anxiety
  • Causes of Situational Anxiety
  • Common Triggers of Situational Anxiety
  • 7 Methods to Cope with Situational Anxiety

· What Is Situational Anxiety?

As the name implies, situational anxiety can be referred to as anxiety that is triggered by a particular event. There are many situations in life that are likely to make us feel anxious, whether it is a job interview, the first day of school, or giving a presentation in front of a large group. This type of anxiety is a common one, and it can be normal.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is a clinical manual that doctors use to determine what is wrong with a patient, situational anxiety is not recognized as a distinct condition.

If, however, the symptoms of a specific phobia are distressing and interfere with daily living, they may be considered to be a specific phobia, a type of anxiety disorder. A specific phobia is characterized by an irrational and intense fear of a particular situation or object that is the cause of the phobia.

· Situational Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorders

As the name suggests, situational anxiety is not a specific medical condition, but rather a way to describe the normal anxiety that many individuals experience when they are pushed outside of their “comfort zone.”

Therefore, the person usually only experiences situational anxiety occasionally – most often when they are faced with a new or challenging task.

A person with anxiety disorders, on the other hand, has a substantial effect on their daily lives as well. Below are some comparisons we can draw.

Ø Situational anxiety vs. generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

A person with generalized anxiety disorder may feel anxious about a wide range of things, even if the event about which they are concerned is not currently taking place or may never take place.

People with situational anxiety often feel anxious about certain events in the future, but they do not feel anxious regarding things that have already happened or are happening right now. Situational anxiety is usually more specific and applies to the present moment.

Ø Situational anxiety vs. social anxiety

There is some overlap between social anxiety and situational anxiety at first glance. In many cases, people who suffer from social anxiety may also practice some of the same fears that are commonly associated with situational anxiety.

In contrast, social anxiety disorder symptoms do not only appear when a person is faced with new or unfamiliar situations in social settings – but they also appear in a variety of social settings.

There is a reason for this, as social anxiety arises as a result of a general fear of negative judgment from other people. An individual may continually worry that other people will dislike them, even if there are no consequences if this is the case.

As opposed to this, people who are subjected to situational anxiety might fear negative judgment only if there are consequences associated with it.

If a job interviewer dislikes someone, they may not be hired. Being aware of this can cause individuals to feel increased pressure to impress. This is also referred to as performance anxiety.

· Signs and Symptoms of Situational Anxiety

When someone experiences situational anxiety, it is a form of anxiety that occurs in response to a certain situation, such as an interview. If you find yourself feeling nervous or fearful in certain situations, you may experience symptoms such as trembling or shaking, dry mouth, dizziness and heart palpitations, to name a few.

Situational anxiety can be characterized by a variety of symptoms, including, but not limited to:

  • A tendency to worry excessively
  • Easily irritated
  • Having your mind go blank
  • A feeling of apprehension or embarrassment
  • Feeling restless or jittery
  • Issues related to the digestive system
  • An elevated heart rate and rapid breathing
  • Trembling and/or sweaty hands
  • Muscle tension and headaches
  • Sweating or feeling flushed or chilled
  • Having trouble sleeping before the event

Situational anxiety does not have the same recognition as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but it does share some characteristics with it that GAD does not. The biggest difference is that this type of anxiety is not constant and is triggered by specific events. It is common for trigger situations, like standing in a busy lift or walking through a crowd, to occur at different times during our lives, which is why treatment continues to be important.

· Causes of Situational Anxiety

Various factors may contribute to situational anxiety, such as unfamiliar or changing situations, in which people have a hard time predicting what they should expect or how they should react to certain situations. As a result, anxiety may arise. 

The symptoms of situational anxiety may also occur when a person has experienced a negative or uncomfortable situation previously. You may experience situational anxiety if, for example, you have a bad experience speaking in front of a crowd the last time you have to do so. 

Situational anxiety is not the same as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), but it can also increase your chances of experiencing it if you are more susceptible to anxiety, in general. In contrast to generalized anxiety disorder, situational anxiety occurs in response to a specific circumstance. 

· Common Triggers of Situational Anxiety

Anxiety is most commonly triggered by specific situations. Here are some of the most common triggers: 

  • A new job or the first day of school
  • Job interviews
  • Delivering presentations 
  • First dates
  • Being abroad for the first time
  • Moving to a new place
  • Being away from home
  • Leaving for college
  • Attending a social event and meeting people
  • Social situations
  • Conversations with strangers
  • Being assigned to lead a team
  • Public speaking 

Situational anxiety triggers can also include major life changes, such as marriage or childbirth. Unfamiliarity is a common thread among many of these triggers. 

It’s normal to feel anxious when faced with unfamiliar situations. However, situational anxiety usually subsides as familiar situations become more familiar. 

· 7 Methods to Cope with Situational Anxiety

If you suffer from situational anxiety, you’re not alone. When faced with worrying events or changing circumstances, many people experience heightened stress. Anticipating the anxiety itself can only make matters worse, so keep calm; there are easy, effective, and accessible ways you can cope with situational anxiety. Here are seven ways to quell your quiver so you can stop stressing over stressful events and start facing scary situations calmly and courageously:

1. Keep a realistic perspective

Often, things seem worse than they really are. If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, you might need to get realistic about the situation. The realistic optimist usually faces challenges with self-control and a positive attitude, especially if he or she sees no major harm or if there’s hope for a good, long-term outcome.

  • Take a deep breath

Researchers have shown that breathing techniques like deep abdominal breathing and meditative breathing can quickly help you relax and calm down. It’s not just about situation anxiety; you can use relaxation breathing to manage chronic anxiety symptoms as well. Try several methods and find the one that works best for you.

  • Rehearse and try

If you’re worried about an upcoming presentation or another nerve-wracking event, it’s because you’re unprepared. Practice your skills or play out the event in advance to put your fears at ease. Acquiring confidence can help you cope with situational anxiety. Rehearse your worries with family or coworkers.

  • Grab a friend

What person puts your mind at ease when you are with them? Invite them along. You won’t feel awkward about bringing a pal to stressful events like doctor’s appointments, funerals, and court dates, as companions accompany people to these events all the time. Feeling supported will help you be less anxious.

  • Adopt a Plan B

It’s natural for anxiety to increase when you’re locked in a stressful situation, but knowing you can leave if the situation becomes too overwhelming can help calm your nerves. You’ll feel better knowing you can come up with an alternate plan that accomplishes the goal in a way you feel more comfortable with. Even if you don’t use plan B, you’ll feel better knowing you can.

  • Identify Your Stress

In some cases, stress can actually be a good thing. The adrenaline and energy that result from a fearful event can help you handle the situation more successfully–and improve the outcome. The next time, embrace stress instead of fighting it, and see how you can utilize it to your advantage.

  • Seek professional advice 

Situational anxiety can be downright paralyzing for some people. Consider consulting a health professional if all else fails. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for assistance. The mental health professionals at Clay Behavioral Health Center treat situational anxiety with sensitivity and success. You can visit the center whenever you are ready without an appointment!

Stress can be daunting, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it get the best of you. The above ideas will teach you how to overcome situational anxiety and stay peaceful and optimistic in stressful situations.

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