How to Prevent Anxiety From Ruining Your Relationships

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If you’ve lived with anxiety for any significant amount of time you have probably felt misunderstood on more than one occasion. You may have felt as though no one gets what you’re going through and everyone around you doesn’t seem to know how to help. Well, one way to break this pattern of miscommunication is to tell loved ones and friends (that need to know) how you feel and what you need.

We all have real basic needs and I don’t mean just food and shelter. I also mean things like security, friendship,self esteem, and a sense of connectivity to others. Anxiety sometimes makes it harder to get some of these basic needs met – it just has a way of making everything more complicated, especially relationships. The good news is you can prevent anxiety from ruining your relationships.

For starters, let’s not forget that anxiety doesn’t just make you feel nervous, but it can also make you angry, solitary, self-conscious, and self-centered. And given that anxiety can do all these things it’s no wonder that when we get anxious we can be annoying and cause frustration in those we love. Put simply, anxiety can become a serious strain on any type of relationship you have – whether it’s parents, siblings, or your better half, all of these relationships can be put under pressure.

One way to help relieve some of this pressure is to always keep an open line of communication with your loved ones – especially if you two share a bed if you know what I mean.

You can’t expect for others to just “get” you, especially if they have no experience with severe anxiety. What reference do they have? It’s up to you to tell that person you care about how you feel and what you believe you need from them to help you cope.

Of course, not all of us are great communicators, so it may be difficult to get this out. Maybe you’ve been so embarrassed about being so anxious that you haven’t even admitted that you have an anxiety problem. But evenĀ  in this case you still have to face the music.

You also have to do more than rattle off a list of phyiscal symptoms. Get a bit detailed and explain not just your phyiscal reactions, but also your thoughts and fears.

Next, explain that anxiety doesn’t just make you (and all people for that matter) nervous, but it also causes you to get cranky, easily agitated, and may cause you to get inside your own head from time to time.

Ask for patience, understanding, and for anything reasonable you think might help you cope when things get hard. Remember, people are not psychic and you can’t assume that other people know what you’re thinking or what you want from them.

If at all possible it would also be helpful for those closest to you to read up on anxiety disorder aswell. To learn about symptoms, about panic, and anything else that you contend with on a regular basis. They have to know what you know.

Lastly, this isn’t a one way street. Given that you know anxiety can cause you to be a pain, act like you know this. Be aware of what you say and how you say it. In other words, don’t use anxiety as an excuse for being a lame friend, lover or family member.

Having these talks, sharing this information, and being open about your condition with those close to you can be of great benefit. The last thing you want to do is have the people you care most about driven away from you because they just didn’t “get” you.

I know personally how important this is because it has strained my marriage more than once. My wife would say things like, “what do you want me to do?” And I didn’t have an answer, which in turn only increased both our frustration.

I suppose that I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a hug, or for one liners like, “It’s going to be alright.” And maybe that’s not what you need to feel reassured or relaxed, but whatever it is, identify it and then convey it as simply as you can to those that need to know.

Coping with anxiety is not always about drugs, yoga, and deep breathing. Sometimes it’s simply about making sure that people around you understand what you need, so that they can lend a hand.

Side Note:

For those of you that enjoy the podcast stay tuned because I plan to publish a brand new episode very soon.

Update:

I also wanted to let you know that my ebook How to Stop Anxious Thinking will increase in price from $9.99 to $14.99 in the next several days. So, if you want to save a little money get a copy while the introductory price is still available.

On second thought, it appears that the economy is still in the toilet. And although this ebook helps to finance Anxiety Guru Dot Net, I know there are people out there struggling with job loss, pay cuts, and truck loads of uncertainty. So, I’ve decided to leave the price at $10 simply because I’d rather have more people have access to this ebook than not.



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Comments

  1. deontae says

    great post this really hits home for me i start college in the fall where i hope to better my relationship skills

  2. says

    Hi Deontae, I remember you from awhile back. I’m glad this post helped a bit.

    It’s so important to not get stuck in your head. That’s why I say it’s a good idea to keep talking it out and not shut out the world – even though many of us feel like doing just that.

    Good luck this fall!

  3. felicity says

    Thanks for your great blog and all the work you put in. I’m in a relationship with a great guy who has anxiety. I do my best to be supportive and this article is very welcome to those of us in this position. All of what you say here is very valid. I would very much welcome reading something that gives advice on best ways of support for partners to give, what does and doesn’t help.

  4. felicity says

    Hi, I’m in a relationship with a man who suffers from general anxiety. He has frequent episodes of getting stuck in a loop of thoughts, worrying about pretty (to me) irrational things and needs me to talk it though with him, including all the “what ifs”. We can get quite tangled up in all the rational reasons why this irrational worry isn’t true.

    It seems to help in the short term, although it can be frustrating and needs a lot of patience. I feel I’m just giving him a “reality check” and reassurance. I worry that he could become dependent on my giving him approval and reassurance and wish he could be a little more self-sufficient. I’ve been doing a load of research and found this excellent blog, forum and podcasts here.

    I could really do with some feedback from sufferers as to what is actually helpful when supporting someone, and what is likely to make things worse. He’s quite open to suggestions and has recently started listening to a meditation tape regularly and found my suggestion of counting deep breaths quite helpful. What do you think of these kinds of methods? Are there other things that help? What is the best way to support someone and still have a proper relationship with them, not becoming a sort of unpaid therapist?

  5. says

    Hi Felicity, this is one issue I don’t think gets much attention from anxiety sufferers and that is the toll this condition takes on others.

    My best advice would be to always be honest and try to explain to him that he should only seek reassurance from you in very difficult situations (panic attacks, etc), not because of daily annoyances or things he could potentially handle alone.

    It is hard at first, but self-reliance and the ability to cope alone is critical, even if it takes awhile to learn how to do.

    And you’re right about not becoming a therapist. This could hurt your relationship in the long run, so explain that.

    If he needs that much reassurance then maybe he should consider talking to a professional about this. Because the more he fosters reliance on you and others the harder and worse this will get for him.

    Also, you don’t have to understand everything about anxiety, but keep in mind that by its very nature it is irrational and he, right now, doesn’t know how to accept information that would correct his faulty thinking. So, provide evidence to prove his fears wrong and hammer them over and over in casual conversation, but still try and be firm about him taking a stronger hand in this.

    It’s great that you are there for him though, because he does need you. It is a hard balancing act, but it can be done.

    Things that work to win the struggle against anxiety:

    1. Lots of information to disprove fears.

    2. Exercise.

    3. Relaxation techniques like meditation and the like.

    4. Distraction.

    5. Patience and Acceptance.

  6. felicity says

    Thank you so much for your reply – very helpful and appreciated. It helps a lot to know we’re not on our own with this and that applies to those supporting someone with anxiety as well as the sufferer. Maybe this subject is worth a podcast or a chapter in the next book? (The ebook is great by the way – I downloaded it last night)
    I’d certainly be interested in hearing from other partners of those with anxiety if any are reading this.

  7. Marie says

    I am so happy I found your post. My boyfriend of 1.5 years lives with anxiety. Like stated in your article, he doesnt communicate the source or his triggers of his condition. I try talking to him, but he tells me he’d rather not..saying it just increases his condition. It really started to make me feel insecure about our relationship. He became withdrawn, dispondent and moody. I dont think he realizes how his entire demeanor has changed. I thought the best way to help him was to take abreak. I thought perhaps if I wasnt around, he’d have time to think. I started to believe committment was at the core of his feelings. I reassured him this wasnt a breakup, just time apart. He is such a wonderful, amazing man. Yet, as Ive reached out to him to see how he’s doing…he ignores me. Im hurt and confused. I genuinely just want to help. Now, I feel as if Ive lost him forever. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
    Thank you!

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