Steps to Take When Living with an Anxious Partner
Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults, and are the most common mental illness in the United States. What do you do when that anxious person is someone you love and share a life with? Living with an anxious partner can at times be overwhelming and frustrating. It can be particularly challenging to take on the role of a loving and supportive partner, while also maintaining your own sanity. Here are four things to keep in mind if you live with an anxious partner:
- Honor your partner’s boundaries. People struggling with anxiety often experience feelings of chaos and lack of cohesion. Allow your partner to set boundaries around what they need in order to feel safe and grounded. For example, if he or she needs 30 minutes to decompress each day after work, honor it. It’s likely that afterwards, they’ll be in a better position to engage you in conversation, or spend some quality time with you.
- Take a break. Individuals with anxiety often overthink or over-analyze people, situations and conversations. Communicating about sensitive issues with your anxious partner may prove to be challenging. Oftentimes, you may find yourself being the only voice of reason. If you feel your partner is having trouble thinking rationally, don’t press the issue. Take a break and revisit the conversation when your partner is less anxious.
- Be (truly) supportive. Find out what support looks like for your partner. Don’t assume you know what they need—ask. Support could mean helping with deep breathing activities, reminding them to take their medication, rehearsing affirmations with them, joining them in exercise, or just listening. Also, be careful not to judge or minimize their struggle with anxiety—even if you don’t fully understand it.
- Self-care. Living with an anxious partner can induce anxiety in you, as well. Practicing lots of self-care will enable you to better handle daily life with your partner. Remember to engage in activities and interests outside of your relationship. In addition, maintain a support system for yourself, such as family, friends, or support groups. Finally, try not to become consumed with your partner’s anxiety. It’s possible to offer love and support without sacrificing your own mental and emotional well-being.
Keeping these four points in mind can help you better manage life with an anxious partner while also keeping your relationship and sanity intact!
If you feel you or your partner could use some guidance to put some of these things in place in your lives please contact us here, so we can help.