We all know how awkward and uncomfortable things can be when we’re in social situations.
May it be meeting new people, speaking in public, attending job interviews, or presenting at a business meeting. But most people can get past that feeling and still function throughout the day.
However, that may not be the case when it comes to people who have a social anxiety disorder. The stress of these situations can be too much to handle.
Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as social phobia) is more than just being shy.
It is the constant fear of being judged or watched by other people. It is the feeling of being extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations that even something as simple as lining up at a cafe to order something on the menu can be challenging to do. So meeting new people, no matter how short the interaction may be, can be very nerve-wracking.
The things that most people would consider “normal” can make them extremely uncomfortable.
Those fears can negatively affect all aspects of their life (not just the social), and things could slowly fall apart. Day-to-day activities, especially the ones that require them to be outside and interact with others can be hard to do.
But having social anxiety disorder doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your full potential. You can still strive to work hard and be able to achieve your goals in life!
We asked experts to recommend the best jobs for people with a social anxiety disorder.
Let’s have a look:
Table of Contents
- Jobs that are not dependent on interactions with people
- Be a writer or work with animals
- Working remotely
- In line with the person’s “core value system”
- Find a job with your support system
- Jobs in our online social and economic world
- Jobs with stable teams
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What Are Some Things to Consider When Looking for a Job With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
- What Resources Are Available for People With Social Anxiety Looking for a Job?
- Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Work in a Team Environment?
- How Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Prepare for Job Interviews?
- What Are Some Ways to Advocate for Oneself in the Workplace as Someone With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
- What Can Employers Do to Support Employees With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
- How Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Cope With Work-Related Stress?
- What Role Does Self-Care Play in Managing Social Anxiety in the Workplace?
David J. Puder, MD
Medical Director, MEND (Lola Linda University Health)
Jobs that are not dependent on interactions with people
There are some people who are highly introverted who often want to work in jobs that are less anxiety provoking, like working at a library working, in computer science, working as a janitor, and in other jobs that aren’t dependent on interactions with people.
Often, working in a kitchen at a food service business can serve as a bridge to working with others, which can be especially beneficial for people who may have been out of work for a while due to poor mental health.
Starting with a job as a dishwasher, or another non-social position, and then move up to more stressful or social jobs as confidence builds can be a great strategy.
Sometimes people with anxiety who have been out of the workforce may have a harder time finding a job initially and may need to work night shifts.
Jobs like stocking shelves or night shifts as a factory job can be great for socially anxious people, as they’re not interacting with a lot of people, but they’re able to do their job, have an income, and be comfortable in the setting.
It’s also important to recognize when you may need more help. If anxiety becomes too much, or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker or professional counselor.
Related: How to Get Rid of Social Anxiety?
Be a writer or work with animals
In my experience as a psychiatrist, the best jobs for those with a social anxiety disorder are not ones that wholly isolate an individual, but instead have limited interactions that occur under high stress or pressure situations.
I find that people suffering from social anxiety flourish most in careers such as writers or working with animals.
Writers with social anxiety typically thrive because it is a relatively independent job but can encourage positive social interactions as well.
Related: How to Improve Your Social Skills
Freelance copywriters, technical writers, and even copyeditors can be good opportunities to interact with others through the editing and revision process while maintaining a relatively secluded work environment.
People who struggle with social situations can also enjoy working with animals. Many find that animals provide calming energy and they feel more approachable than other people.
Jobs such as dog walkers, vet techs, pet sitters, and groomers can provide an independent work environment. These jobs also allow for some social interaction with customers, without those interactions feeling overwhelming.
Physician | Author | Founder, GoldenStateofMinds
When an individual has social anxiety, they can experience it so severely that it inhibits their pursuit of life goals, prevents them from forming relationships, or inhibits them from pursuing career or school, being assertive, or being in public places.
Most individuals with social anxiety disorder hide their symptoms and so well that their friends and family are unaware they are dealing with a mental health illness.
Being nervous about a school presentation, an onstage performance, a first date or a big speech is not defined as social anxiety; instead, these are normal things in life that cause an individual to feel overwhelmed.
Social anxiety becomes a medical condition when everyday social interactions cause excessive fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment.
Individuals with social anxiety can have challenges in the workforce, especially when they work around a large number of people. Seeking professional therapy coupled with finding a job where one feels comfortable is the best way to navigate this problem.
Working remotely can be a fantastic option for anyone with social anxiety, as they do not have to be in front of many people.
Jobs that require minimal interactions with other individuals are some of the best career paths for individuals with SAD:
- Dog trainer
- Computer programmer
- Entrepreneur (work for yourself)
Shari A. Brady, LPC, CADC
Licensed Clinical Therapist | Author, “It’s Not What You’re Eating, It’s What’s Eating You”
In line with the person’s “core value system”
The best jobs for people with Social Anxiety Disorder are jobs that are in line with a person’s “core value system”. Core values are used in psychotherapy to assist in a behavioral change such as social anxiety as well as addictions, eating disorders, career dissatisfaction, and general unhappiness.
Social anxiety is best treated with “exposure therapy” whereby the person suffering from social anxiety is exposed to similar social situations which cause anxiety but in smaller increments.
So if a person suffers from social anxiety and wishes to overcome this, the most beneficial job would be an environment where the necessity to interact with others would be tolerable.
Eventually, the anxiety will diminish over time, as the person essentially becomes “desensitized” to the social interactions.
If a person has social anxiety and his/her core values dictate the best possible career is working as a stand-up comedian, undergoing exposure therapy combined with talk therapy could teach the person how to manage the symptoms of social anxiety, thus rendering this person capable of eventually performing.
Most important to understand: Motivation is key in overcoming any type of change.
Knowing one’s core values is the key to unlocking the factors which will keep a person engaged in the change process long enough to see results.
Clinical Psychotherapist | Counselor
Find a job with your support system
If you have access to the family business they can be present to help with the more stressful parts of the unknown. Same for if your friends work in a place with some career opportunities jump at them!
It’s like sticking your toe in the water. Sure the jobs will be uncomfortable at first but at least there will be some comfort there with you to help ease you in. Then over time, you’re working with people who you’re acquainted with.
Avoid the temptation to find an isolated position in an office in a basement
The challenging part about social anxiety is after the initial clinical symptoms are treated exposure is the next part of overcoming. Find a job with secondary benefits.. maybe high pay or health insurance.. maybe a job you’re passionate about.
Hopefully, find a job that the motivator is enough to tolerate the uncomfortable. After that jump in. Social Anxiety will not improve if you isolate yourself. Decide that you’re going to fight and then decide that even tho you may never love social environments, they won’t defeat you or prevent you from experiencing a good successful life.
Rather than necessarily getting stuck in low-paying or labor-intensive jobs (dishwasher, night time security or cleaning crew, cabbie/driver, toll booth operator), I’ve noticed that the opposite is more often true. These clients often have higher intelligence, as well as the more predictable sensitivity. These talents can be put to use quite readily in our online social and economic world.
The better-income jobs I’ve noticed:
- Online investing/day-trading
- Software developer/coder
- Technical writing
- Online sales and service positions that involve minimal and scripted conversations
An underlying theme is that in our day of social media and life dominated by blue tooth, it is more possible than ever to live, work and stay distracted without having to leave home or directly interact with people “in the flesh”.
At the same time, there is a probable risk of remaining trapped within the strict boundaries of social anxiety.
Marissa Katrin Maldonado, M.B.A.
Founder, The Treatment Specialist
Social anxiety disorder, whether clinically managed or not, can surely limit the types of career choices for those who struggle with SAD. However, many with this condition have exceptional talents and skill sets that just need the right vocational fit to really maximize career potential.
Some excellent employment options someone with SAD might consider include accounting, scientific research, entrepreneurship that has limited public interface, freelance writing or editing, artistic endeavors, psychotherapy, animal care such as dog training, vet technician, or grooming, business, film editor, computer programing, landscaping or plant care business, and radiology technician.
It isn’t necessary to be a people person to excel in an amazing career where you find fulfillment and purpose. By identifying strengths and cultivating them through the appropriate academic or training pathways, someone with SAD can surely succeed professionally.
Career Counselor, Resume Genius
Jobs with stable teams
As you know, people with SAD experience overwhelming anxiety in certain social situations, such as meeting new people, speaking on the phone, giving presentations, or even eating in front of people—it varies by individual.
These situations might make us nauseated, want to run away from a situation, or even have a panic attack. It may be tempting to assume that people with social anxiety can thrive only in roles suited for introverts, like editing, web development, or graphic design.
However, many of us with SAD are extroverts and crave interaction with other people just as much as everyone else. Many people diagnosed with this condition are referred for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Speaking from experience, the best jobs for those of us with SAD are ones that are compatible with the approaches therapists use in CBT.
CBT involves addressing the negative thoughts that people with SAD feel in social situations—feelings that lead to low self-esteem and anxiety. In addition, it involves gradual exposure to anxiety-provoking situations in a manageable way.
Rewarding jobs for someone with SAD allow them to gradually take on new challenges, such as giving presentations to increasingly larger audiences or speaking on the phone—preferably under the guidance of their therapist, who can tie these new challenges in with their therapy.
Additionally, those with SAD are more comfortable around people they know: it’s with people we know well that extroverted people with SAD actually feel at ease enough to act extroverted!
Jobs with stable teams are preferred by people with social anxiety since we don’t have to handle the stress of meeting new people day in, day out.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Some Things to Consider When Looking for a Job With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
When job searching with social anxiety, it’s important to be mindful of how different work environments and job responsibilities can affect your mental health.
Here are some key factors to consider:
Work environment and level of social interaction: Consider whether your job requires frequent interactions with others, such as if you work in a team or deal with customers. If social interaction triggers your anxiety, looking for a job requiring less interaction or where you can work remotely may be helpful.
Level of stress and pressure: Think about the job’s demands and whether it involves tight deadlines, high responsibility, or other sources of stress. If you know you struggle with anxiety in high-pressure situations, look for jobs that have a more relaxed pace or offer a supportive work environment.
Level of flexibility and control: It can be helpful to have some degree of control over your work schedule and tasks, so look for jobs that offer flexible hours or the ability to set your own pace. Being able to take breaks when needed or structure your day in a way that works best for you can be a big help in reducing anxiety in the workplace.
What Resources Are Available for People With Social Anxiety Looking for a Job?
If you have social anxiety disorder and are looking for a job, many resources are available to help you in your journey.
Some of the most helpful resources are:
Career counseling: Talking to a career counselor can give you valuable insight into your skills, interests, and goals and help you find a career that aligns with your strengths and interests.
Support groups: Joining a support group can give you a sense of community and allow you to share your experiences, challenges, and successes with others who understand what you’re going through.
Mental health professionals: Working with a psychologist or therapist can help you manage your social anxiety and give you the tools and strategies you need to succeed in the workplace.
Online job search and career resources: There are many online resources, such as job search engines, career assessment tools, and online courses, that can help you find job opportunities, prepare for interviews, and enhance your skills and knowledge.
Reaching out to these resources can make all the difference in your job search. They can provide you with the support, guidance, and practical tools you need to find a fulfilling and successful career path despite your social anxiety disorder.
Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Work in a Team Environment?
People with social anxiety can work in a team environment, but finding a supportive and empathetic team is crucial. It is essential to have open communication with your team members about your specific needs and concerns so that you can feel more comfortable and safe on the team.
Also, it may be beneficial to start with smaller team projects and gradually move up to larger projects. This will give you a chance to get used to the dynamics of working with others and build your confidence in teamwork.
With the right team and a supportive environment, people with social anxiety can thrive and become valuable members of any team. Remember that you aren’t alone and that many resources are available to help you manage your social anxiety and succeed in a team setting.
How Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Prepare for Job Interviews?
Preparing for a job interview can be a nerve-wracking experience, but for people with social anxiety, it can be especially challenging. However, with the right preparation and mindset, you can feel more confident and in control.
Here are some steps that can help you prepare for a job interview:
Practice: The best way to prepare is to practice common job interview questions with a friend or family member. This will help you get comfortable answering the questions and give you a chance to fine-tune your answers.
Research: Before the interview, take the time to research the company and the position for which you’re applying. Knowing more about the company’s mission, culture, and job requirements will help you feel more confident and informed during the interview.
Reflect: Make a list of your strengths and accomplishments that you can refer to during the interview. This will remind you of your skills and achievements and give you confidence in your abilities.
Breathe: Take a deep breath during the interview and remind yourself that this is an opportunity to showcase your skills and abilities. Focus on the present moment and avoid getting caught up in negative thoughts.
What Are Some Ways to Advocate for Oneself in the Workplace as Someone With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
Advocating for yourself in the workplace can be challenging for people with social anxiety disorder, but it is vital for career success and well-being. Some ways to advocate for yourself in the workplace include:
• Communicating clearly and assertively about needs and concerns
• Seeking support from colleagues or a mentor
• Asking for accommodations, such as flexible work hours or a quieter workspace
• Building a strong professional network and pursuing opportunities for growth
What Can Employers Do to Support Employees With a Social Anxiety Disorder?
You play a crucial role in supporting your employees with social anxiety disorder as an employer. Creating a supportive and inclusive work environment can help these employees feel comfortable and valued in the workplace.
Here are some ways to do just that:
Supportive work environment: Encourage open communication about mental health and make your employees feel comfortable discussing their struggles. Offer resources for support, such as an Employee Assistance Program or access to a therapist.
Professional development: Providing opportunities for your employees to grow isn’t only good for their careers and can boost their confidence and help them feel more secure in their roles.
Sensitivity to needs: Be understanding and sensitive to the needs of employees with social anxiety. Make reasonable accommodations to support them, such as allowing them to work in a quiet space or having a flexible dress code.
By taking these steps, you can make a big difference in the lives of your employees with social anxiety. They will feel valued and supported and more confident in their abilities, leading to higher job satisfaction and better performance.
How Can People With Social Anxiety Disorder Cope With Work-Related Stress?
For people with social anxiety disorder, work-related stress can be particularly challenging. However, several strategies can help.
Here are some of the most effective ways to cope with work-related stress:
Establish a routine: A structured routine can help provide a sense of stability and control, which can be especially helpful for people with social anxiety. This can include setting specific times for work, breaks, and relaxation activities.
Engage in stress-reducing activities: Regular exercise, meditation, or other activities can help manage stress levels and promote overall well-being. These activities can give you a much-needed break from work and help you feel more relaxed and refreshed.
Seek support: Talking to a mental health professional or joining a support group can be incredibly helpful. A mental health professional can offer guidance and support to help you navigate work-related stress. In contrast, a support group can give you a sense of community and understanding.
Communicate with your colleagues and management: Good communication can go a long way toward reducing stress. If you feel overwhelmed or need support, you must reach out to your colleagues and management about your concerns and needs. They may be able to make adjustments or suggestions to help make your work environment more manageable.
Take breaks and set boundaries: These can help prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. This includes taking time for self-care, taking time off when needed, and setting clear boundaries between work and personal life.
Remember that everyone experiences stress at work and that needing support and tools to cope is normal. If you use these strategies, people with social anxiety disorder can manage work-related stress and lead fulfilling and productive lives.
What Role Does Self-Care Play in Managing Social Anxiety in the Workplace?
Self-care plays a crucial role in managing social anxiety in the workplace. Social anxiety can be particularly challenging in the workplace because it can impact your ability to interact with colleagues, participate in meetings, and perform tasks effectively.
However, by prioritizing self-care, you can reduce the symptoms of your social anxiety and boost your confidence and resilience. Self-care can take various forms and should be tailored to an individual’s needs and preferences.
Some important self-care practices include:
Prioritize physical and mental health: Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mindfulness practices can improve well-being and reduce anxiety symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a talk therapy, is also effective in reducing anxiety by identifying and challenging negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT is particularly helpful in managing anxiety symptoms.
Engage outside of work: Pursuing hobbies, spending time with friends and family, and finding healthy ways to relax and unwind can reduce stress and improve mood.
Learning stress management techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and other techniques can help manage anxiety in the moment and lower overall stress levels.
Staying organized and managing workload: Having a clear plan for the day and a balanced workload can help reduce stress and prevent anxiety from becoming overwhelming.
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