Jobs for Adults with Social Anxiety
If you are looking for work, social anxiety can be a major barrier. You might feel as though there is something wrong with you because your anxiety is so severe. However, many people have learned to cope with social anxiety to the point that they are able to hold down jobs.
The best jobs for someone with social anxiety vary according to the level of anxiety experienced by each individual. Generally, those with high levels of anxiety should consider jobs that do not require much interaction with others and those with low levels of anxiety may be able to work in a more public role.
Regardless of your level of anxiety, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to determining the best job for someone with social anxiety. The factors that make a job good or bad vary from person to person and many people find there are some tasks within their workplace they enjoy more than others.
The most important thing is to identify your strengths, interests, and competencies and look for work that aligns with these. That being said, below is a list of jobs that may be best for those who want a job that offers a balance of time spent alone vs. interacting with other people.
Computer programmers often work alone and sometimes from home, which can be helpful if you find constantly working in groups or in an office setting aggravates your anxiety.
This type of job can also be good if you are an introvert in addition to being socially anxious. Introverts usually excel at work that allows them to explore ideas alone and at their own pace.
Programming work requires attention to detail and concentration, so it’s best if you enjoy becoming immersed in your work. This job also requires good problem-solving skills and the ability to work independently.
If you do find yourself taking a job as a programmer, make sure not to completely isolate yourself from your colleagues. Try to go to office events, such as birthday parties and after-work social gatherings to challenge your social anxiety.
Landscaping can be a good job if you enjoy working outdoors. If you live with depression in addition to social anxiety, the exercise and sunlight that comes with landscaping may be helpful as well.
Landscaping can also be a good way to meet people in a non-threatening environment. If you work as part of a crew, you’ll have opportunities to talk with coworkers as you do your job. In a management role, there will be chances to speak with contractors and clients as well. This type of job generally affords you the chance to do as much or as little socializing as you feel up to each day.
Finally, you might not think of landscaping as a creative pursuit; however, there is an artistic aspect to designing landscape spaces and planting gardens. If you enjoy being creative, then this job could allow that side of you to flourish.
Accountants must engage in social interaction, but it’s generally limited to specific scenarios in which you are the expert/advisor, which may make the person with social anxiety feel more comfortable.
This is a job that can often be done from a home office and on a schedule that you set yourself. In addition, there is significant autonomy in a career as an accountant, meaning that you won’t typically have a boss or supervisor breathing down your neck if you work for yourself.
Work as an accountant is often also financially rewarding, whether you choose to run your own business or work for an accounting firm. You’ll just need to enjoy working with numbers and paying attention to fine details. In addition, strong communication skills are important to speak with clients and colleagues.
Regardless of having social anxiety, you can develop good social skills that will be valuable in any occupation. My favorite book on how to develop your people skills for work settings is Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards.
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Working with animals can be a naturally calming experience if you have anxiety. In fact, some people have pets specifically to help with their social anxiety. If you like animals, becoming a veterinarian could be a career path to consider.
In addition to dealing with animals, in your role as veterinarian, you would also be speaking to customers and colleagues. However, much of these interactions would be focused on the pets, which could make them less anxiety-provoking.
Becoming a veterinarian does involve a significant amount of schooling. If you’re not up to the financial or time commitment that is involved, you could instead consider working with animals in another setting such as at a sanctuary or wildlife reserve or as a dog walker (see the next job description).
A typical dog walker is simply a person who walks dogs for people in the park or on the street; you will need to know basic commands and how to control a dog on a leash. A person with social anxiety can usually handle these tasks fairly well.
The best part about being a dog walker is that there are so many people with dogs around. You are constantly meeting new folks and animals!
You will also get a chance to make conversation with other dog owners when you take a break by petting dogs at the park as you huff and puff from all that exercise.
Plus, it’s an awesome outlet for your own furry friends if you have them back home.
Counselors are people too! It may be difficult at first to talk to clients and help them work through their problems but with time you’ll get used to it and find it easier.
Most people with social anxiety are highly empathetic and good listeners, which are key skills that make a good counselor.
Counselors also make deep connections with one person at a time, which might be easier for you if you struggle with making small talk with a lot of different people.
To be a successful writer, you’ll need to develop a thick skin in order to handle criticism from readers and peers. Being a writer means having faith in your ideas and personal voice enough that you put them out there into the world.
The good news for someone with social anxiety is that most writing jobs involve a lot of time spent alone and most communication can be done through email.
The options for writers are endless: freelance writer, feature writer, book author, blogger, etc. Think about the type of writing you want to do and your relevant education or work experience when deciding on a career path.
Surprisingly, customer service may be an apt choice for those with social anxiety. That’s because customer service is highly interpersonal in a scripted sort of way.
Customer service jobs generally require answering phones or speaking with customers when they come into a store. This generally requires no verbal or face-to-face interaction on a level above basic pleasantries.
The person with social anxiety can construct a quasi therapist-client relationship where they help guide people through their needs and frustrations with solutions and kindness.
Some customer service jobs can also be done from home, which can be helpful in managing social anxiety.
Typically, you’ll use a laptop (for email and chat messaging) and/or a phone headset to communicate with customers. The best thing about this job is that the customer never has any idea what’s going on behind the scenes! Some people with social anxiety may also find it easier to interact with customers over the phone than in person.
Being an entrepreneur could be a good option for those with social anxiety because an entrepreneur is usually able to manage their own work schedule and social contacts.
Entrepreneurship is about being a generalist: making decisions across a variety of areas, acting as an advisor in all sorts of roles to bring together resources and knowledge from diverse sources, and solving problems on the fly.
These are by nature introverted activities at first glance. Generally, entrepreneurs have more control (or they think they do) over what happens with their business than someone who works 9-to-5 in an office.
But, entrepreneurship also means risking lots of time and money without any guarantee that it will pay off economically.
Being an entrepreneur can be enticing if you have social anxiety, but be careful to assess what your strengths are.
If you’re someone who likes to think up creative ideas and get high-level work done on your own, then it would be a good idea to find an entrepreneurial endeavor that fits these abilities.
But, if developing your interpersonal skills or being able to manage employees is something you’ll have trouble with, entrepreneurship might not be the best way to ease your social anxiety.
Photography is a good career option for social anxiety if you’re willing to work as a freelance photographer, make your own hours, and photograph what’s most interesting to you.
You won’t have the same financial stability and benefits as someone working in a more traditional setting, but it should be easier on your mental health.
Photographers can also work from home, which minimizes the pressure to interact with people.
A factory job is better than no job at all, but it also carries with it some inherent hazards.
However, people with social anxiety may be comfortable in a work environment where they can remain anonymous and avoid the stress of public contact altogether.
Factory work usually follows this paradigm and provides plenty of opportunity for individuals to feel incognito about their workday routine.
And while factory jobs are typically less prestigious or lucrative than jobs that require more interaction with people (i.e., salesperson), they’re still an option for those recovering from social anxiety and may provide a stable income without requiring stressful interactions with customers or coworkers.
Additionally, there’s something inherently soothing about being the person in charge of just one thing.
Being a nanny can be one of the most stable and predictable jobs you will find. For people who feel safest in a structured environment but who also want some variety, nannying is a win-win.
Being a nanny can be a good job for people with social anxiety, because you will have contact with children and other people, but on a more limited basis.
House cleaning is a good job for people with social anxiety, as it’s low stress and makes you feel productive and accomplished when done well.
The job can be mentally absorbing and solitary without requiring much conversation, which might be beneficial to someone with social anxiety.
However, this can also be a lonely or isolating job, and could make your social anxiety worse through avoidance.
If you find yourself withdrawing more and more from people, it might be better to choose a job with some social interaction.
Dog groomers are typically pet lovers who take care of pets and assist in their grooming, bathing, and treatments. If you love dogs, this could be the job for you!
People with social anxiety might find a part-time dog grooming job to be rewarding on several levels and provide them with a much needed sense of stability.
As a dog groomer, you can choose to work independently from your home or for a company.
Working on your own might initially feel less socially involved. However, remember that you’ll be solely responsible for all customer interactions. In addition, you’ll be managing the behind-the-scenes aspects of your business such as advertising and bookkeeping.
Flowers are a great way to interact with people; it’s the product that does all the work. Cut, arrange, chat, offer specials, and everybody leaves happy.
At the same time, flower shop work can be stressful if you have anxiety because of interactions with customers and working outside in the heat.
Flower shop jobs that operate primarily indoors and with less customer contact (such as designing arrangements) may be a better fit for those who live with social anxiety.
Flower arranging is one example of indoor floral design where you only need to talk to someone through Skype or over the phone when they choose their flowers.
For some people with social anxiety, one way to feel better is by focusing on smaller interactions rather than large-scale ones. So, this is an interesting option since it allows for more focused communication.
Expanding Your Comfort Zone
The best jobs for you might not require a lot of face-to-face interaction. The top jobs for social anxiety are often ones where you can work from home, like customer service or freelance writing. However, it’s important to keep in mind that avoidance only makes social anxiety worse.
If you do choose a job that is solitary, it’s important to push yourself to stay social in other areas of your life. Or, you can choose a job that allows flexibility in social interaction.
This allows you to be more social on days when you are feeling good, and stay more isolated on days when social interaction is adding to your stress.
Tips for Finding Jobs for Social Anxiety
Social anxiety should never be a reason not to go after your dream job. At the same time, some jobs will be less socially demanding than others.
Below are some tips to keep in mind if you’d like your work time to be a safe haven from situations that might trigger your social anxiety.
1. Consider a job that is primarily online so you don’t have to interact with people in person.
2. Look for jobs in industries where there are fewer customers or clients.
3. Find work-at-home jobs that require minimal customer interaction, such as data entry or transcription.
4. Consider working from home; it will allow you more time to prepare and get ready before starting your workday.
5. Ask your boss for flexible hours so you can take breaks when needed and leave early on days when anxiety is severe.
6. If your job is socially taxing, take up hobbies that do not involve socializing, such as painting, sculpting, or playing video games.
7. If you have a job where you need to talk to people but don’t feel comfortable, try being open about your own anxiety. This can be especially helpful if you work for a company with a proactive HR department and you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. You might even end up with accommodations to help you do your job while taking your social anxiety into consideration.
Most of all, remember that social anxiety is a manageable problem that doesn’t need to interfere with your daily life.
And the story of Helen at the beginning of this post? That’s actually the story of me. I never quite felt at home in “jail” in an office environment.
It’s okay to choose what feels aligned to you. You don’t have to follow the same path as everyone else, just because that’s “how it’s done.”
Just make sure you’re doing something you love and not choosing avoidance.
Are you looking for a job that you can manage with social anxiety? Or, do you have a job that has worked well for you? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
Related Articles About Work and Social Anxiety
- 5 Work From Home Jobs for Socially Anxious People
- How to Earn Money From Home
- How to Start a Blog to Earn Money
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Jobs for People With Social Anxiety
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