Situational anxiety: what it is and how to cope

Anxiety that is caused by unfamiliar or novel situations is called situational anxiety. It’s not a separate condition but rather a way to describe how anxiety affects people.

Many people will experience anxiety in certain situations. Situational anxiety is not treated when it’s mild.

There are ways to reduce the impact of situational anxiety on a person. It may be helpful if the situation occurs frequently. If a person is commonly required to travel far from home and finds this stressful, it may be beneficial to address situational anxiety.

This article will help you understand situational anxiety. It includes what it is, its signs and symptoms, and examples. You’ll also learn about the different treatment options and how to cope.

What is Situational Anxiety?

Situational anxiety is a reaction to unfamiliar or new situations. A person may feel anxious if an employer asks them to take on new responsibilities or if they travel overseas for the very first time.

This type of anxiety does not always indicate that the person has an anxiety condition. Many people have experienced situational anxiety at some time or another in their lives.

Situational anxiety and anxiety disorders

Situational anxiety does not have a specific medical diagnosis. It expresses most people’s concern when they leave their “comfort zones.”

People only feel situational anxiety on rare occasions, usually when they are doing something new or challenging.

Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, have a significant impact on daily life. Here are some comparisons.

Situational anxiety disorder vs. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

GAD patients are anxious about a wide range of things, even when the event they worry about is not happening now or will never happen.

Situational anxiety is more specific and applicable to the current moment. Situational anxiety is characterized by people feeling anxious about what will happen or what is happening now.

Social anxiety vs. Situational anxiety

Situational anxiety and social anxiety can appear very similar. There is some overlap between the two since people with social anxieties can also be afraid of events that often trigger situational anxiety.

It is important to note that social anxiety disorder symptoms are not limited to new or unfamiliar social situations. They can also occur in many trusted source social settings.

Fear of being judged negatively causes social anxiety. Even if the fear is unfounded, a person can worry about being disliked by others.

Situational anxiety is a different type of anxiety when people fear negative consequences.

If a potential employer dislikes a person, they may not be able to get the job they desire. This can make a person feel more pressure to impress. It is also called performance anxiety.

Signs & symptoms of Situational Anxiety

Situational anxiety shares the same symptoms as other types of anxiety. Only in certain situations do they manifest.

An individual with anxiety can feel.

  • Nervously,
  • Restless
  • You can also be afraid
  • Irritated
  • Tense

There are also physical symptoms such as:

  • a rapid heartbeat
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Sweating
  • shaky hands
  • Tensing muscles

Examples Situational Anxiety

Here are some examples of everyday situations that can cause anxiety.

  • Public Speaking: Fear of public speaking can be shared among people with little anxiety. Some people may be anxious when giving speeches or presentations or leading meetings.
  • Job interview or audition: This event has high stakes. Many people, even those who are usually confident, experience anxiety before interviews or auditions.
  • Meeting people for the first time: A new person can cause anxiety in various situations.
  • Traveling far from home: Even if you are looking forward to your trip, leaving home for an unfamiliar place can be stressful.
  • New things: Many people feel anxious the first time they do something new, like riding a bicycle, swimming, or taking an airplane.

Social anxiety is a common symptom of some of these examples.


Psychologists do not diagnose situational anxiety as a medical condition. It can majorly impact someone’s life, and they can receive help.

If a person is interested in a career involving a lot of foreign travel, getting support for reducing anxiety may be helpful. Doctors, therapists, and counselors can provide advice on how to best approach the situation.

Also, it is essential to know that anxiety disorders and situational anxiety can be challenging to distinguish. A doctor or licensed psychotherapist can help someone understand their type of anxiety.

Treatment of situational anxiety

Many options are available to a person who wants or needs to reduce their situational anxiety.

Gradual exposure therapy

This type of treatment involves gradual exposure to whatever is causing the fear. The person begins with a small, achievable goal, such as a day trip to a nearby city. Then they work towards more challenging objectives such as a weekend getaway and perhaps even an overseas trip.

The next step is only taken when the person feels comfortable with the one before. They can then become familiar with the situation and be confident in their ability to handle it.


The majority of medications prescribed by doctors for anxiety must be taken regularly. People must take Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors daily, or they will not work.

Some anti-anxiety medications can be taken in a single dose. These include drugs like benzodiazepines which are a form of sedative.

A doctor can prescribe these medications to help calm people in certain situations.

Some peopleTrusted Source may develop an addiction to benzodiazepines. They are only prescribed for short-term or one-off use by doctors.

Anti-anxiety medication should not be used as a solution for people who suffer from situational anxiety due to their work or lifestyle.

How do you cope with situational anxiety?

People can manage anxiety by using coping strategies. Creating a routine before a performance may be helpful if you are experiencing situational anxiety. This is done to reduce uncertainty in a new situation.

A pre-performance routine could include

  • Gathering Information: An individual may want to look up the location, the names of the attendees or even take a picture to get familiar with the area.
  • Prepare: In order to reduce anxiety, people should prepare in advance. It could be as simple as choosing what to wear, packing their bags, cooking a meal, or setting an alarm.
  • Practice: The more people practice a speech or performance, the more confident they may feel. If they are worried about getting lost on the way to a job interview, they can practice their journey the weekend prior.
  • Self-care: It’s easy to ignore self-care when you are stressed, but it helps a person relax. You can make sure to schedule a relaxing activity in advance of a stressful situation. They should plan a comfortable night the day before and ensure they get enough rest. Avoid things like caffeine that can increase anxiety.


Situational anxiety occurs when a person is in a new or unfamiliar situation. It is often triggered when someone has to leave their comfort zone, such as when traveling away from home.

Situational anxiety is a common problem. This type of anxiety does not require treatment. However, a person may want to consult a therapist if it is recurring.