Overcoming Anxiety - 5 Powerful Ways to Build The Support You Need From Your Partner
For anyone who has ever locked themselves in a bathroom to calm down while wishing they knew how to communicate their anxiety needs to a partner - this article is for you!
Anxiety is a tough battle to face, but it doesn’t have to be fought alone.
You don’t have to stifle your emotions to be deemed a ‘strong mother’ nor do you need to stay up late googling your symptoms in an attempt to feel in control. What you need is loving care.
So—how can we enlist the support we need when anxiety turns up unannounced?
Here are 5 powerful ways you can cultivate the help you need from your partner:
1) Identify your triggers. Anxiety is our body’s way of communicating that it feels unsafe. Sometimes fight or flight kicks in when a similar but not identical situation to one of past trauma presents itself. Keep a journal to note when anxiety has spiked, including what was happening at the time. Knowledge is your power tool to effective communication.
2) Keep narrative positive. Fear (manifesting in panic or anxiety) tends to make us defensive. It can be easy to throw blame on a partner for apparently not understanding what we are going through. Attack is only going to push them away. Let your partner know when their support has been helpful, and what specifically made you feel better. Focus on forwards motion!
3) Use the ‘no questions asked’ approach. Supporting an anxious partner can be a frightening experience. No one wants to see a loved one suffer. Typically, instinct tells us to ask questions and to try to rush past the event. Let your partner know that they solely need to remain a steady anchor, without offers of action nor advice. This simple practice will reassure you both that it’s safe to feel your emotions together.
4) Create time to talk. Trying to discuss how to help someone’s mental health after they have experienced anxiety is like trying to encourage someone to run on a newly sprained ankle. Post-anxiety time should be about healing and recharging. Set aside undisturbed periods of time once a week to talk through how you’re both feeling. Lock smartphones away and offer generous listening to cultivate quality discussion.
5) Seek the support of a pro. Our partners are not (usually) mental health professionals. They cannot replace the professional position of a trained, qualified therapist or clinician. Consider seeing someone regularly who can unpack what is causing your anxiety to take the pressure off of your relationship. You deserve adequate support when you’re struggling, no exceptions.
Life can be stressful and some anxiety is inevitable. However, if you are feeling consistently overwhelmed, then it’s time to get some further support in place.
All the while - keep talking. Don’t attempt to ‘save’ your partner from the stress of what you’re going through. This will only cause division between you in the long term.
Trust your partner to hold your hand through each storm. They may be capable of more support than you might expect!