Does your partner struggle with anxiety? Maybe they have a formal anxiety disorder diagnosis, or perhaps your partner hasn’t sought formalized care, yet their anxious feelings are very real. Regardless, it’s not uncommon to feel utterly at a loss as to how you can support them. Below are a few things you can do to support the one you love as they move through their anxiety. Remember, you’re not responsible for another person’s experience, but your supportive attitude and love for your partner can go a long way.
1. Educate yourself about anxiety.
You’ll be better able to support your anxious partner if you have a good idea of what their symptoms are, and about what anxiety is in general. Anxiety can express itself in many ways mentally, physically, and in relationships. Just some of those symptoms might include excessive worry, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and increased tension in the body. How does your partner experience anxiety? Try asking them. Research their symptoms and maybe even pick up a few books on anxiety to educate yourself further.
2. Ask your partner what they need.
You don’t have to try and read your partner’s mind. Next time your partner is experiencing anxiety, ask them what they need. Everyone’s needs in times of anxiety differ. For some, a hug can be nice. For others, physical touch can contribute to feelings of overwhelm. These differing needs are why it’s important to ask your partner how you can best support them in times of need.
3. Listen without fixing.
Sometimes your partner will need you to listen to their anxious thoughts without expressing advice or ways to fix it. While it may feel like you’re not doing much as you withhold advice, when anxiety rears its head, a compassionate, non-judgmental listening ear can be huge. You’re assisting your partner more than you may ever know just by holding that safe space for them.
4. Take care of yourself.
In order to be there for your partnership, you need to be diligent about taking care of yourself, too. It’s important not to let your partner’s anxiety become your anxiety. Continue to partake in your self care routine and activities that make you happy. Be sure to seek counseling for yourself, too, if you need more support.
5. Offer to support them in seeking further resources.
Reaching out for help can feel intimidating. Offer to help your partner find a therapist or other resources to assist their anxiety. You might even sit down and do the research with them, or hold their hand as they call and make their first appointment. If anxiety has begun to affect your relationship, you might consider couples counseling, too. But for someone struggling with anxiety, that first step towards support can be the hardest. Take that step with them.
Clara Hayes is a Counseling Intern with Enhancing Intimacy, providing quality therapy while working toward's her Master's in Counseling from St. Edward's University. She seeks to help her clients access fulfilling and nurturing relationships through every stage of life. Clara is sex positive, body positive, LGBTQ affirming, and works with both monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. She believes that by grounding oneself in their own identity and needs, individuals can better express and access those needs in relationship with others.
Clara integrates mindfulness practices in session to help her clients access a sense of safety in their bodies and feel a greater sense of ease in everyday life. Clara is studying Emotionally Focused Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She is supervised by Jill Baumgarner, LPC.
If you'd like to schedule an appointment with Clara, call us at 512-994-2588 or schedule online below.