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From a Utah Counselor: Supporting Your Partner Through Anxiety
Thoughts From a Utah Counselor: Supporting Your Partner Through Anxiety
Can you think of the last time you felt nervous before something big? Maybe you were worried about that impending job interview or the first day of school. Nervousness, fear, or worry are all basic human emotions. However, a high level of any of these could show up as anxiety and cause our bodies to be on ‘high alert’. While this response is normal on occasion, those who struggle with an anxiety disorder have a hard time getting back to a calmer state. Over time, feelings of anxiety can cause distress and impact life enjoyment. If your partner struggles with feelings of anxiety, here are some ways to be supportive.
Recognize & Listen
One of the key ways you can support your spouse is by being able to recognize when they are having a hard time. Sometimes, even they can’t recognize it! Is your partner crankier than usual? Are they having a harder time going to sleep? Or are they avoiding things they typically enjoy? These could all be signs that something is going on. If you know they have anxiety, it might be easier to identify signs. Avoid the temptation to take abnormal behavior or frustration personally and try to see if anything else might be going on. (For Additional Tips on Recognizing Anxiety, Check Out This Article)
Along with recognizing, listening is another important part of supporting your partner through anxiety. Simply letting your partner know that you can see they are going through a lot can be extremely helpful. Curiously and lovingly asking them to help you better understand what they are going through allows them to feel seen and cared about. Try not to jump to fix the problem and just focus on listening and being with them.
Sometimes the most selfless thing you can do for your partner is to be a little selfish (Related article: Why Self Care is So Important for Longevity and Wellness). Life gets busy. Families are amazing and require a lot of work. Maybe, your dream job is fulfilling but it also requires you to work 50+ hours a week. The house and yard probably require time and work as well. While all of those things are absolutely important, make sure to take time to take care of yourself as well. Do whatever you need to to make sure you get time to recharge your batteries. Even if money is tight and a babysitter is expensive, find a way to get some you-time. Everything else in your life will be better as a result.
One of the most important aspects of supporting your partner is getting backup. While you care about them and want to help them, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, many important parts of your relationship could diminish if you are the only source of emotional support for your partner (Related Article: Support Your Partner… But Not too Much).
Loving and supportive relationships are an important part of healing and recovery–but they shouldn’t be the only part. Therapy, medicine, support groups, friends, extended family, and hobbies are some of the common options available. Research would suggest a combination of therapy and medicine along with increased social support is more likely to lead to successful healing and recovery (Source).
Patience & Hope
While you and your partner whether the storms of anxiety, rest assured there are many reasons for hope that things will get better. Anxiety has been researched for decades which has led to several effective interventions to help reduce and/or overcome anxiety completely (Source). Most interventions will take time, however, and patience is an important part of treatment.
It is difficult to see our partners and anyone we care about struggle with anxiety. Its impact can extend to all areas of life including work, friendships, home, and intimate relationships. Recognizing and listening are some of the most helpful things you do for your partner. Remember to take care of yourself during the treatment process and take advantage of the resources that are there to help your partner thro ugh anxiety. Lastly, be patient and continue to hold hope that anxiety will one day no longer have such a large impact on the life of you and your partner.
See a Utah Counselor for Anxiety
Need extra support for yourself and your relationship during a difficult time? Find a Utah Counselor in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork, Utah.
Written by Ryan Anstead, LAMFT