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How to Help a Partner with Anxiety

5 Ways to Support a Partner Who Has Anxiety

People experience anxiety in a variety of ways, ranging from mild to life-altering. As the partner of someone with anxiety, it can be difficult to be compassionate while managing your frustration and added responsibilities. Here's how you can help your partner without sacrificing your mental health.

Make them feel loved. People with anxiety often feel ashamed or insecure. They may feel as though they are unlovable because they suffer from mental health issues. As often as you can, try to reassure your partner and help them feel loved and accepted. Remind your partner that anxiety is a very common issue and assert your willingness to accept them for who they are.

Drop the comparisons. In today's social media-driven world, it's easy to get caught up in other people's stories. Sometimes, we develop pictures of what happiness should look like and then feel down when our lives don't match. While people like to advertise their happiness with Instagram snapshots of parties and their toes in the sand, this usually isn't reality. For an anxious person, happiness might be a day where they feel comfortable and confident enough to leave the house without experiencing a panic attack. As the old adage says, comparison is a thief of joy. Stop paying attention to other people and focus on how you can make today a pleasant day for you and your partner.

Set honest expectations. While you should treat your anxious partner with compassion, you should not act like they are a child. Let them know you expect them to communicate, keep appointments and handle important responsibilities. If anxiety gets in the way, let them know this is ok, as long as they give you a heads up, so you can manage your schedule to pick up the slack. At the same time, understand that an anxious partner is much more prone to catastrophic thinking. With this in mind, you want to call when you will be late and give them plenty of notice when major changes are on the horizon.

Nurture their well-being. If anxiety appears to be a major problem for your partner, you should encourage them to seek support from a qualified therapist. At the same time, you should encourage healthy day-to-day behaviors. If you notice your partner is having catastrophic thinking; point this out. If they seem to be lost in their thoughts; encourage them to be more mindful, focusing on their senses to help anchor themselves to the moment. Gentle reminders can help build good habits that can ultimately help your partner overcome his or her anxiety.

Give yourself a break. No matter how much we love our partners, their anxiety can be a burden which causes us to feel overwhelmed and stressed. While you should always do your best to make your partner feel accepted, it's ok to feel angry and frustrated from time to time. When you start feeling overwhelmed, try to set aside some opportunities to go for a drive, meditate or spend some time with friends. You should also consider seeing your own therapist so you can vent and brainstorm about effective ways to cope with your partner's anxiety and encourage their recovery.

The therapists at Foundations Counseling can help you and your partner learn effective techniques to manage anxiety and improve your well-being. Contact us today!