“These fears are often borne out of expectations we have not articulated in the first place,” Ivankovich said. “Be honest with yourself about how your fears impact the process. Many times we look at the content of the messages rather than the process by which this keeps happening. Evaluate the patterns that set you off.”
Ivankovich said a good starting point is to ask yourself if this is your issue or an issue with the person you are texting. If it is yours, evaluate the situation. Can you fix this on your own or do you need to reach out to a counsellor to help you address the situation?
If it is the other person’s issue, have you talked to them? Have you established an expectation of which they are unaware? If so, communicate and compromise to find a desired outcome that works for both of you.
“Recognise fear of rejection and how it plays out in this scenario. Is it the text message you are anxious about or the fear of being left behind by the texter?” Ivankovich said.
And remember: “Overthinking the situation is not a means of problem solving,” she said.
Keep your brain busy and your phone away from your fingers in moments where it’s particularly causing you distress.
“My friends know it’s a classic move of mine to send a slightly risky message and then immediately turn my phone on airplane mode, delete the thread so I don’t have to see it, etc.,” said Tess Harkin, a 22-year-old who lives in New York. “I know it’s something some of my friends do now as well. It’s reassuring because I know even within my friend group that other people feel the same way. It sort of normalised that it’s OK to feel anxious sometimes.”
Other things you can do to keep from feeling high-strung is to put your phone away in another room or take part in activities that specifically keep your fingers active, like painting your nails or even taking a shower. If anything, use your texting anxiety as a reason to do something you enjoy such as reading a book, practicing yoga or watching a movie.
Communicate your needs.
“Consider texting breaks, even if your phone is in your pocket,” Ivankovich said. “During this time, utilise the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature on your phone. Start with short periods of time and build up gradually to a time that you are comfortable with.”
Other strategies to consider are leaving your phone at home or setting aside specific time frames during the day where you will look at your messages and nothing more. You can also turn off your notifications if you don’t want to be alerted.
But no matter how stressful texting can get, remember to cut yourself some slack and know that your feelings are real.
“I try really hard to focus on the fact that what I’m feeling is temporary, and that I know I’ll feel better in a little while,” Harkin said. “It’s really helpful to just remind myself that my feelings were valid, and even if I’m anxious, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong. I have a right to feel how I feel, regardless of if it’s anger or anxiety or happiness or whatever else is going on. Those feelings are valid and how to manage them is my choice.”