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How to Get Over Your Fear of Using a Public Restroom

David has had a variety of life experiences, which he loves to share with his readers.

The thought of a public restroom can cause extreme anxiety.

The thought of a public restroom can cause extreme anxiety.

Social Anxiety When Using a Public Restroom

It never fails. You walk down the street in the middle of the day and it happens. You need the restroom. Then you start wondering - will you make it back to work or home in time to use a more private restroom? Or will you have to chance it and use a restroom somewhere out on the street? That's a scary thought for some people.

The worst part is that people go through this every day. There is a lot of social anxiety when using a public restroom. Some try to avoid using a public restroom because they are shy, embarrassed, or just don't feel comfortable doing their business with others around. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this.

Not surprisingly, there have been cases of peeking over stalls, so be careful!

Not surprisingly, there have been cases of peeking over stalls, so be careful!

15 Tips to Avoid Feeling Nervous in the Public Restroom

It doesn't matter if you are a male or female, we all have to use the restroom. While each gender has their own ways to do it, it all comes down to your need to go. Both genders have issues with anxiety when using the restroom. Males can be cruel, but so can females. Here are some ways to make it easier when you need the restroom:

  1. Realize that everyone needs the restroom. The people in the restroom are in there for the same reason you are. It's no secret and you shouldn't feel ashamed by it. Just go in and get your business done, then get out. It's as simple as that.
  2. Don't take too long. Some people like to wait until everyone is gone before exiting themselves. That just draws attention to yourself. If people know someone is in a stall, for example, and the person doesn't leave after a long time, they will ask if you are okay. That will just draw attention to yourself, which will be unwanted attention. How would you talk your way out of that one? It's embarrassing if you had to. So just leave when you finish with what you are doing.
  3. Distract yourself. Cell phones are great for this. While doing your business, take out your cell and play a game or respond to a text. But please, don't talk on your cell phone. Not only is it rude, it's a bit disgusting. It means everyone else around you feels like they have to be quiet, or else the person you are talking to may realize where you are at. Turn the phone on vibrate as well. Sounds coming from a cell phone can echo throughout a bathroom. Make sure to clean the phone afterward as well!
  4. Don't be too quiet. When you are in a stall, make a bit of noise. Shuffle your feet, brush against the wall, etc. This will "mark" that stall as your territory. Otherwise, people may try to open the door, ask if someone is in there, and so on.
  5. Be prepared. Depending on where you are at, you will encounter morons, kids, and drunks. Be prepared to deal with these people. At a rock concert? You will encounter drunks in the restroom. At an amusement park? There will be kids everywhere. Just get in and get out, but be ready to have to deal with people like this.
  6. Be aware of trans-gendered people. You need to be aware that those who are trans-gendered may use the restroom matching to your gender, but not their biological gender. Treat them respectfully and don't assume anything.
  7. Wash your hands. As eager as you may be to get out of there, wash your hands first. People do notice when someone walks out without washing your hands. Even if you don't use the facilities, then it's still recommended you wash your hands. This is especially true for the males!
  8. Check the stall. Before using the stall, check to ensure it has all of the supplies you will need, that it is clean (as clean as something like that can be), and is private. If you find something wrong, pick another stall. Nothing is worse than realizing you don't have an all-important supply, and you have to ask a neighbor in a stall for some!
  9. Secure the area. Ensure the door locks completely, look for anything that may allow someone to peek into the stall, etc. Nothing is worse than someone opening the door and seeing you there helpless and vulnerable.
  10. Don't let people rush you. If you are in a portable restroom, or a restroom with just one stall, then people will try to rush you. Don't let them! It's your time in there. You waited just like everyone else. If you rush it, you may just have to go back in later.
  11. Keep your eyes to yourself. Don't go looking around or peeking at others. Just look in your immediate area. You can easily offend someone by looking at what they are doing.
  12. Realize you could run into someone you know in the restroom. It could be your boss, a family member, or a friend. Again, this is normal and it's no reason to feel out of place because of it. Just greet them how you normally would and continue with what you were doing. Remember, they are in there for the same reason you are!
  13. Discard your trash appropriately. Don't throw refuse on the floor. Dispose of it properly. If someone sees that you didn't throw things away correctly, they will call you out on it in front of others. This is especially true for women!
  14. Flush. Flush. Flush. When you are done, flush appropriately. While you may not want to so you can get out of there quietly and quickly, if someone else has anxiety using a public restroom, they will be freaked out by someone who hasn't flushed.
  15. Teach your children. These tips should be taught to your children as well. Plus they should be taught to stay safe and careful while they are in a restroom. Depending on where the public restroom is located, it could be dangerous.
Men and women can have issues using a public restroom.

Men and women can have issues using a public restroom.

5 Tips to Avoid Using a Public Restroom

Some people may wish to try using a public restroom altogether. To be honest, that's what I try to do as well. So here is what I do to prepare:

  1. Use the restroom before you leave your home. This should be obvious, but using the restroom before you go will keep you from having to use a public restroom, depending how long you are gone.
  2. Use your workplace restroom. While it may not be as nice as your own restroom, it can be more private than a public restroom. Be prepared to run into your co-workers though. Usually it's not a big deal.
  3. Avoid drinking a lot. If you fear that you will need the restroom a lot, then don't drink as much, which would cause you to need the restroom more often.
  4. Get checked out by your doctor. If you find yourself going to the restroom a lot, go see your doctor. You could have a treatable medical condition. If you get treated, you may need the restroom less.
  5. Always plan ahead. Figure out where you are going to be, where you can use the restroom next, etc., so you are never caught off-guard.
Paruresis means being unable to use a public restroom because others could be around.

Paruresis means being unable to use a public restroom because others could be around.

The Phobia Paruresis

If all else fails, you can seek therapy or medical help if you completely fear using a public restroom. You could have phobia called "Paruresis", which is being unable to urinate in front of others. While a lot of TV shows and those on the internet make a joke out of this, it can be a serious condition if you feel it interferes with your life. A medical doctor may be able to prescribe medication that will help. There are videos and links below that provide more information about this phobia.

Good luck and don't be ashamed. We all have fears we must overcome!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 David Livermore


Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on January 26, 2014:

I found this hub very informative. Amazing how you can learn something new everyday, was not aware of public restroom avoidance for these reasons and have never met anyone with the phobia, paruresis. My hub is about the nasty habits of women so this was an interesting take on the subject. Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Tim from Los Angeles, CA on September 29, 2013:

Very Interesting hub! "Paruresis", Never knew they had a name for that, ha!