Getting a Haircut with Social Anxiety

I never liked going to the hairdresser. There’s something about being in that chair with the little cape on that makes me feel trapped. I can usually handle a haircut or color when the salon is not too busy, but if the salon is crowded, I get a severe case of haircut anxiety.

Haircut anxiety is a big deal. Lots of people with social anxiety have a hard time going to salons and getting haircuts.

Yesterday I finally got a haircut for the first time since July. I know that’s not really a big deal, and it’s something people usually do with no problem, but it’s one of the things that S.A. gets in the way of for me. People tell me it looks fine, but when I look in the mirror it bothers me alot. Now, since I got it cut I feel a little better about myself.

Before I was actively trying to recover from panic attacks and anxiety, I absolutely dreaded going to getting a haircut with social anxietythe hairdresser. I never enjoyed making the requisite small talk with the hairdresser.

Hair stylists can be really chatty, and I used to not like the personal questions. Then if I got a stylist who wasn’t as talkative, I’d wonder if something was wrong.

In the crowded salon on a busy Saturday, sometimes I’d be “trapped” in the chair and a neighbor or acquaintance would walk in. I remember having lots of panic attacks in hair salons over the years.

Haircuts are super tough for me as well. Generally I am on edge for weeks afterwards. I’m getting one for the first time in a couple months next week and I am already starting to get nervous.

When my agoraphobia and social anxiety were at their worst, I even cut my hair at home a few times. It looked horrible, but I couldn’t make myself go into a beauty salon. Picturing the bright lights, the chatty girls, and being trapped in the chair for an hour or more (for a color and cut) were too much for me. I didn’t know what the heck to do about haircut anxiety at this time.

I have a hair appointment today and i’m dreading it. Hair salons always make me really nervous and anxious. Ugh! I get sick just thinking about it.

I’ve used these tips to make haircut anxiety more manageable for me. As you practice getting more comfortable going to the hairdresser, hopefully they can help you too:

1. Schedule your haircut or color when the salon is not too busy. If you don’t know when this is, call the salon and ask. This is a good way to practice sitting in the chair without feeling the pressure of a lot of social activity going on around you. Asking for the last appointment of the day is a good idea because you know the stylists want to get home at that point-not sure if that would affect the quality of the haircut though, lol ๐Ÿ˜‰

2. Say no to the blow dry. This can take 15 minutes or more and the heat of the dryer could also make me feel jittery. I never minded leaving the beauty shop with wet hair, even in the winter. It definitely got me out much faster. Just knowing your time in the chair will be cut short (no pun intended) can make the whole experience much more manageable for you.

3. Remember to check your breathing. Make it a point to breathe slowly and from the belly- using your diaphragm. Diaphragmatic breathing diminishes anxiety symptoms and makes you feel all relaxed and cozy. It also corrects the oxygen carbon dioxide imbalance that makes anxiety symptoms worse.

4. Prepare yourself before the appointment. This might sound obvious, but it wasn’t for me. I had to learn to prepare myself and psyche myself up before going into the salon. Visualizations and positive affirmations work great.ย  I visualize myself having a calm and successful time and say positive affirmations for anxiety. This helps ensure that I will have a positive and uneventful experience.

Or, if I am in a rush I can just do a quick session of hypnosis for anxiety.

Since I am actively working on beating my panic attacks and anxiety every day, I have made progress in baby steps. Today I don’t dread going to the salon like I used to.

I still don’t love getting my hair done but my haircut anxiety is not nearly as bad as it used to be. And my hair looks a lot better too.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

I wish you peace,

Jill G.

PS: ย When you set yourself up for success BEFORE you leave the house, you put yourself in the VERY BEST POSITION to master anxiety while getting a haircut. I HIGHLY recommend you tryย The Triple A program as explained in The 60 Second Panic Solution. I’ve used this program since 2014 and have had excellent results. It works like a charm! ๐Ÿ™‚ Do check it out here.



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This entry was posted in Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Getting a Haircut with Social Anxiety

  1. JT says:

    I am a black male and I have severe haircut anxiety. The problem stems from the fact that I have a somewhat large head which is also mishappened. As achild, whenever I had haircuts, I would be teased and would get all sorts of comments. I still get those comments today and everytime I go tothe barber shop, my anxiety shoots up. It is pure hell sitting there having my hair cut and looking at the barber struggling to make a descent shape of my head. It’s pure torture. The anxiety stays with me for days or even weeks. So I tend to let my hair grow long cause I can’t stand having this kind of torture too often. The problem with letting my hair grow long is that people think I’m shabby never mind that I already have a large head. One way or another, I feel damned. I hate looking in mirrors cause their trigger my anxiety attacks. My anxiety attacks are so bad that I really get sick to the point that lose appetite, my temperature rises, my heart races, my mind gets racing thoughts etc. As for a social life, it is non- existant…. did I mention I’m 34 and have never had a relationship? Sometimes I feel death would be an opportunity to check out from this world! I truly envy the dead!

    • JillG says:

      Dear JT,

      My heart really goes out to you. Early childhood teasing often haunts us into our adult years, and it sounds like your situation is particularly distressing. With anxiety, you are sensitive to begin with. The memories from childhood have traumatized you to such an extent that getting a haircut is like putting yourself through torture. Given your unique situation, no one could ever blame you for not wanting to get your hair cut.

      I have talked to many people who rarely or never go to the barber/ hairdresser because of crippling panic attacks. Please know JT, that while your situation and history may be unique, you are not alone in your feelings- not by a long shot.

      I too, have felt “damned” in the past for having my life so restricted and confined because of anxiety. I too have contemplated death. I used to wish for cancer- I’m not saying that to sound dramatic. I used to think, with cancer, at least there has to be an end. Anxiety never seemed to end, it only seemed to get worse.

      I’m here to tell you, my life was about seriously messed up because of my anxiety disorders. I took matters into my own hands for years with over drinking and self medicating.

      JT you can get better. You are not really damned. You are living and coping the best you can with anxiety. It sucks. And I’m telling you, if you can change your way of thinking about it, you will find help. First and foremost you have to learn a bit of self acceptance. NO ONE is perfect. Everyone has faults,

      Please read this:

      Now, I know what you’re thinking: my situation is worse than this lady Jill. She has no idea what I go thru. And you know what? You’re right. I don’t live in your shoes. But I know if I can get better, you can too.

      Here is what you can do to help- to stop the racing thoughts:

      To try to face your fears- do it in baby steps

      Did you get my free report? Sign up for the newsletter, it will help you. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Wishing you much peace and hugs,

    • Michelle says:

      JT, I’m so sorry that you’ve been made to feel self conscious. I’am a master barber and I just wanted to tell you that you should not be so worried about the shape or size of your head. I have tons of customers who are self conscious of their head, or scars, or big ears, but in reality everyone has flaws. I find it terrible that you have anxiety at the barber shop, you should be made to feel very comfortable at the shop. You should find a barber that you can be truthful with and express your anxieties because they would work with you to help you feel more comfortable.

  2. Goldie says:

    Great tips indeed! especially for people like me, lols. I have a bit of a low self esteem before, going to hair salons isn’t really my type though, because when i do i feel like im in a hot seat, i think i just followed one of your tips, that is attacking salon when there aren’t too much customers around. thanks!

  3. says:

    Hey hey, I enjoyed reading this. I’m getting my hair cut tomorrow. I’m 23 and I look like a total hippy, haven’t cut my hair for years. I’m feeling very nervous about a hair cut, but also a little glad because I think looking cleaner will ward of some nasty looks I get because people assume I do drugs because of my hair length (also, I gotta get a job!). Although I’m nervous I think to myself, “Who cares, it’s just hair” or “It’ll grow back”. It can be really scary, but most of the fear isn’t a reality, you know?

  4. Joe says:

    I have the problem when i feel something tight around my neck i start to gag. Like when i go to the barber shop and they put the cape too tight around my neck it makes me gag. Its really embarrassing and i dont know how to ask them if they can put it less tight or not tight at all.

    • JillG says:

      Joe, I would just practice saying what you need to say BEFORE you’re sitting in the chair. And I can relate. When I used to have severe haircut anxiety, I also used to feel like the too tight cape was making things worse. They DO put the cape on too tight a lot of the times! I guess to prevent hair from itching your neck and getting on your clothes. Still, it would be perfectly reasonable and polite to say with a smile, “Not too tight around my neck please.” And then when the cape is on (assuming he or she did it nice and comfortably), you could say, “That’s perfect, thanks!” ๐Ÿ™‚

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