Center for Growth - Anxiety Therapy in Philadelphia - Protecting Yourself from Your Partner’s Anxiety - Having a loved one with anxiety is not easy. Living with that loved one can be extremely challenging. Separating their feelings from your own is about as simple as herding cats. However, that is exactly what is required if you are to maintain your own peace of mind while also helping them cope with their symptoms. Taking on someone else’s anxiety as your own is not only overwhelming for you, but it fuels their condition as well, exacerbating an already precarious state.
Protecting yourself from your partner’s or loved one’s anxiety does not have to be impossible. Follow these simple steps to ensure you don’t get caught up in their anxiety cycle:
-Recognize when your partner’s anxiety is mounting. Knowing when your loved one is suffering is key to keeping yourself out of their anxiety equation. Learn their triggers and observe their symptoms so you can be aware of the warning signs as they come. If you see their condition worsening before they do, not only will your awareness protect yourself by signaling you to be on your guard, but it can also help by teaching them to respond to their own signals before their anxiety gets out of control.
-Develop your own anti-anxiety tools. Just as your partner must learn to identify behaviors and actions that combat their anxiety and engage them at the appropriate times, so must you develop your own arsenal for warding off anxious energy. Whatever relaxes, comforts, or soothes you without doing harm is necessary for keeping stress levels down. Music, nature, reading, dancing, or even meditating are all excellent choices for soothing the self. When you sense your partner’s anxiety approaching employ your choice of calming behaviors and encourage them to do the same.
-Take personal time. There is much to be said for a little time away when you are living with someone who has been diagnosed with clinical anxiety. Because you will be giving so much to help your partner through their ordeal, it is critical that you set aside personal time to recharge your own energy stores. You cannot be a comfort or a help to someone with anxiety if you are frazzled and on edge yourself. Go for a walk, take a hot bath, treat yourself to a massage or join a therapy group. Whatever works to get you away from the stress of your personal life and allows you to regroup is going to be beneficial.
-Keep communication open. In order to work effectively with your loved one through their anxiety, you must remain open and communicative. Sit down with your partner and discuss your feelings. Go somewhere private where conversation is encouraged. Be open and honest, but always gentle. Blaming, shaming, and criticizing your loved one for their condition is not helpful to either of you. Instead, initiate dialogue by laying out your own feelings and emotions. Begin sentences with the word “I” not “You”. Then, give them room to do the same. Remember when they are vulnerable and expressing themselves to be a good listener, attentive and responsive to their words.
-Utilize outside resources effectively. Don’t be a martyr for your partner’s cause. That provides no benefit for anyone. Seek outside help when necessary. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to admit that this is too much for you. Counseling and therapy either alone, as a couple, or with a group can do wonders to improve your coping skills. Ask friends and family members for their help. Get babysitters so the two of you can be alone, or even get help with household chores and duties. Visit your local library or bookstore and read up on information that can help you with the process. Be open with those around you. Friends, family and even coworkers will be much more understanding if you explain your circumstances in a rational, calm manner. Anyone who does not understand or appreciate your unique situation may be better kept at arm’s length for a while. Negative input serves little purpose in a situation like this.
-Be honest with yourself. When the anxiety consumes you, learn to tell yourself that what you are feeling and experiencing originated with your partner. Recognize that it is not your own. Follow it back to its source. Did it begin when your partner had a phone conversation with their manager? Or maybe they got a new promotion, moved recently, or experienced some other change that ignited their anxiety? Be aware of where the anxiety is coming from and remind yourself of that consistently. Comfort yourself with reassuring words and affirmative statements. Let yourself know when the strain is too much and respect your own instructions. Being honest with yourself about what you are going through is crucial if you are to be honest with others and work through the anxiety.
Remember, you are not your loved one. In order to be there for them, you must protecting yourself from your partners anxiety. Their anxiety is not yours, but it can often feel that way. Follow the steps outlined above and add any that you think may prove helpful. Do what you need to in order to protect yourself so that you can be a better support system for your partner. Just because your loved one is living with anxiety doesn’t mean you have to.
Struggling with how to manage the balance between your needs and your partner's need? Call a relationship counselor today 267-324-9564 Center for Growth / Anxiety Therapy in Philadelphia - Protecting Yourself From Your Partners Anxiety.