social anxiety

Some people having polite conversation at a party.

Does the following scenario make you feel anxious? You are in line at Target, and someone behind you recognizes you from an old job you had and asks, "How are you?” and you reply, “Fine.” Then, both of you stare at each other for 10 seconds, waiting for someone to say something next.

Sherry Amatenstein, LCSW, suggests that before we answer the question, we should attempt to ascertain if the person we’re talking to really wants to know. Are they being pleasant or just trying to make small talk? If you think they want to see how you’re doing, feel free to disclose what’s happening in your life.

But if it’s just a stop-and-chat or you don’t know the person you’re talking to, then it’s fine to respond with a clever response that may elicit a chuckle or spread some goodwill without telling them your life story. You can easily replay with a "Fine, how are you?" and put the conversational ball back in their court.

However, if you are looking for a more clever response, a Redditor who goes by Myloceratops crowd-sourced the best answers to the big question and received over 900 responses. Most of them were witty comebacks to the question that we can all tuck into our pack pockets to use when we want to see more interesting than someone who just gives a pat “fine” response.

Here are 17 of the best responses to someone asking, “How are you?” for you to use the next time you're making small talk.


"I have two stock answers: Not too bad. Distinctly average." — Floydie1962.


"Saw a shirt I loved: 'The horrors persist, as do I.'" — Evilbunnyfoofoo


"I kinda like the Norwegian, 'Up and not crying."' — 5tr4nGe


"Dying a little more every day." — Much-Signifigance212


"Do you really want to know?" — Hatjepoet


"In my country, people sometimes say 'Kann nie genug klagen.' It’s roughly translated to 'I can’t complain enough.'" — OldProblemsNeverDie


"'I'm on the right side of the dirt' is one of my go-to responses." — JiveTurkeyJunction


"Feeling good and looking better I’ll make a burlap sack feel like the cashmere sweater." — Late_Review_8761


"It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear." — 27_crooked_craibu


"If I was any better, there would be two of me." — not_that_rick


"At work, it's 'Better by the hour.'"— Otherwise-Tune5413


"'Oh you know, living the dream' is the only one I’ve got ready to go lately." — KittyBooBoo2016


"Busier than a one-legged cat trying to bury a sh** in a frozen pond." — SpoonNZ


"''I think I’m going to make it' usually gets a chuckle." — Bebandy


"“Im good, and you?' I’m Gen X. I don’t burden other people with my problems." — Mrbootz


"My next complaint will be my first complaint." — NoGood


"'I feel like a silly goose today!'Guarantee they’ll never try to make small talk with you ever again." — Front-Craft-804


Autistic woman ordering room service offers rare insight into internal struggles

What the person on the other end of the phone doesn't see is an entire story unto itself.

Ordering room service can require herculean effort for some people.

One of the weirdest parts of being human is how none of us really knows what's happening in another person's head or how other people act when they're by themselves. We often wonder if we're the only ones whose brains work a certain way or if other people go through the same mental or emotional obstacle courses we do when performing certain tasks.

When you live with someone who deals with mental/emotional challenges like anxiety or someone who lives life with neurodivergence, you see a bit more of people's behind-the-scenes reality. But even then, there are things we don't fully see because they're happening internally.

One autistic woman, however, has offered an insider look into her internal processing in a video showing her ordering room service at a hotel for the first time.

Paige Layle is a Canadian woman who shares various aspects of her life on social media to raise awareness and advocate acceptance for autism and ADHD. In a TikTok video that's been viewed 4 million times in one day, she explained that she was at a hotel and wanted to order breakfast, then walked viewers through her whole process of anxiously preparing, actually making the phone call and her emotional relief after the fact.

People who don't struggle with the uncertainty of a phone call, even a basic one like ordering room service, may wonder what all the fuss is about. But people on the spectrum and people who struggle with social anxiety or anxiety about making phone calls will likely recognize themselves in this video.



calling for room service for the first time 🙈😅 #actuallyautistic #autism #paigelayle #foryou

The rehearsing what you're going to say as well as what the other person will probably say, the silent freakout upon actually pushing the button, the sudden shift into "totally normal person" mode once the phone call commences, the adrenaline explosion after hanging up, the shaking out of the excess nervous energy, the "that was okay, but awful" sentiment—it's all so familiar to so many people, whether they're dealing with autism, ADHD, anxiety or some combination of them all.

But the person on the other end of the phone would never have guessed this was happening behind the scenes. Paige even handled the unexpected coffee addition with zero issue. Knowing that unexpected things might come up in a conversation is what creates anxiety about phone calls like this, so the fact that she didn't skip a beat when the dialogue diverged from what she'd planned out in her head was genuinely impressive.

Some people might wonder about her "and no one's mad at me or anything" remark, but that's not an unusual concern for people on the autism spectrum as well as people with ADHD and others who might experience rejection sensitive dysphoria.

People in the comments commiserated with Paige while cheering her on.

"I’ve only ordered room service ONCE and this was the EXACT experience. I earned that French toast," shared one commenter.

"You did amazing!!!! I’ve actually never ordered room service because I hate phone calls… too much anxiety!" wrote another.

"The progression from 'anticipatory panic' to 'perfect execution' and finally 'post-mental breakdown' was so real lol i relate," shared another.

"The way you did it perfectly but wrapped that in panic is me everyday," wrote another.

And that's really the crux of it. So many people struggle mightily internally while successfully doing everyday things, with no one on the outside ever knowing the mental and emotional journey it took for them to do those "normal" things. Hopefully, videos like this will help us all give a little more grace and understand why people might be more exhausted or less willing to do things than it seems like they should be. When it's this much work to order a yogurt, imagine how much energy it takes to do other things. This is where a little awareness and empathy can go a long way toward acceptance and understanding.

Follow Paige Layle on TikTok and check out her upcoming book: "But Everyone Feels This Way: How an Autism Diagnosis Saved My Life."


Correcting these 7 body language mistakes could make you instantly more likeable

Body language isn't always intuitive, and we may be making a negative first impression without meaning to.

Charisma on Command/YouTube

Here are some simple ways to improve your body language in social situations.

You might be the most awesome person in the world—kind, thoughtful, pleasant, funny—and still not make a good first impression on people. The immediate, unconscious judgments our brains make based on body language aren't always accurate, but they happen whether we want them to or not.

First impressions are especially hard for people who struggle with social anxiety or with understanding the nuances of social interactions. When we're nervous, our body language can misrepresent us, making us appear to be more closed off and less approachable than we might be if we were feeling like our true, relaxed selves.

Thankfully, there are some specific ways we can consciously shift our body language to avoid people getting a wrong first impression.

A video from Charisma on Command breaks down seven common mistakes people make with their body language that gives people a negative impression and explains what to do instead. Some of these things are subtle behaviors we might not give a second thought. Others are things we do out of nervousness. With some simple, conscious practice, we can make a difference in how we come across to people we're socializing with.


So, to recap:

1. Don't scan the room when talking with someone.

2. Don't let someone interrupt you when you're in a conversation with someone else.

3. Lean against a wall, chair, bar, etc.

4. Keep your hands out of your pockets.

5. Use precise and expansive gestures at the right times.

6. Keep your head up.

7. A brief eyebrow raise lets people know you're glad to see them (but might not be something you want to try to control).

Some people in the comments pointed out that scanning the room is an automatic safety behavior for some and that trying too hard to do some of these things could come across as stiff or disingenuous. Others, however, appreciated the specific advice. Body language is not intuitive for everyone, and pinpointing behaviors to pay attention to can help even the playing field with those who have more social skills and charisma naturally.

Several people on the autism spectrum expressed their gratitude for this kind of clear, direct instruction.

"Man, I so appreciate this channel," shared one commenter. "Being on the Autism Spectrum makes it really difficult to have social interactions and sometimes I don't act "appropriately" but I'm extremely good at mimicking and learning principles. These sorts of videos have made it easier for me to integrate into social situations to the point that people don't realize that I'm on the spectrum ... in fact, people are shocked when they learn that I am. Thanks for making life a little easier for me."

"I agree 100%," shared another. "It's taken me years to simulate neurotypical behaviors, but I'm mostly so good at it now that most folks have no clue. Charisma on Command has helped me hone that to a new level and I am very glad of it."

Body language makes up a lot of our communication, so it's helpful to learn how it works and how we can make adjustments to improve our chances of positive interactions with others. See more of Charisma on Command's videos here.


Gen Z and Millenials struggle with 'menu anxiety.' Here’s what it is and how to beat it.

Why do some people feel overwhelmed when looking at a harmless menu?

What is menu anxiety?

A new form of social anxiety is coming to public consciousness, and it affects younger generations more often than older generations. The problem is called “menu anxiety,” and although it isn’t an official diagnosis, it affects countless people.

A survey of 2,000 adults conducted by OnePoll and commissioned by Avocado Green Mattress found younger generations were far more likely to have anxiety while ordering a meal off a menu—41% of Gen Z and millennials (aged 18–43), compared with only 15% of Gen X and baby boomers (aged 44–77).

There are many different ways in which menu anxiety manifests itself. People may have difficulty deciding what to order, especially in a place with an extensive menu. They also may be overly concerned they may have made the wrong choice.

The social aspect can also be challenging for some people because they may feel they’re being judged for their order by others at the table or that they are under undue pressure to make their choice in a timely manner.

Add to that, some people may be concerned about the environmental impact of their order and how long it will take to cook.

“I would imagine that people who are already experiencing anxiety would be more prone to experiencing menu anxiety,” licensed mental health counselor Natasha D’Arcangelo tells Lifehacker. “People who struggle with performance anxiety or perfectionism might also be more prone to experiencing it. It could also be a sign that your general stress levels are increased if what used to feel like a simple decision is now paralyzing you with anxiety or fear.”

Popular TikTok creator and comedian Elyse Myers, who’s been open about her struggles with mental health issues like ADHD, anxiety and depression, explained how she manages her menu anxiety.

To help herself feel comfortable in a restaurant, Myers pours over the menu hours before the meal and practices the name of what she wants to order.


I’m a blast 🚀 #coffeetalk #theadhdway #menuanxiety

Myers' approach to overcoming her menu anxiety closely mirrors advice provided by mental health professionals. An article co-authored by Natalia S. David, PsyD, recommends that people look over the menu ahead of time and write it down on paper so they don’t forget.

She also suggests that people plan a backup order in case the menu item isn’t available at the restaurant. This could prevent some unnecessary anxiety that could confound an already stressful situation.

Dr. David adds that when you practice the order, do so calmly.

“Practice feeling relaxed while you order,” Dr. David writes. “If you force your brain to think positively while you practice, it will be may be easier to do so during the real thing. If you feel yourself getting anxious as you practice, try some deep breathing.”

The study shows that even though menu anxiety is a seldom-discussed topic, it is an issue many people have. When popular social media personalities such as Myers talk about these issues publicly, they help to de-stigmatize them so people feel more comfortable discussing the issue openly. When people feel more comfortable being open about their challenges at the dinner table, then they are probably more likely to have an enjoyable meal.