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Being in a relationship means supporting your partner through every phase — the good, bad, and the ugly. And if you’re dating someone who’s dealing with anxiety, it is all the more important to be supportive and emotionally available for them. Of course, it might not be easy but you can take certain steps to help them out.
But how is this going to help? Well, by following expert-recommended tips, you are not just helping your partner, but you are also trying to maintain your peace of mind.
First, know the reason why your partner is feeling anxious
“The list of reasons for anxiety can be a long one. There could be stress related to work, family, marriage or relationships. There could also be financial stress. Let’s just say political instability could also be a cause for stress. Living in conditions that don’t give us a feeling of certainty can cause stress,” says leading psychiatrist Dr Rahul Khemani.
Apart from that, unpredictable events such as a pandemic also have an impact on our mental well-being. Other reasons could be illness in the family or among friends. The most common symptom in all these scenarios is getting caught up in the thoughts of ‘what if’ or overthinking about the future.
Understand what anxiety is and what it isn’t. While there are common signs and symptoms, everyone experiences it differently and has all sorts of triggers. Talk to your partner about how they experience it and what their coping mechanisms are.
It is not uncommon to want to fix your partner. But is that what they need? Your discomfort is not the focus here, but their reality is.
What makes me anxious might not make you anxious. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t true or real. Acknowledge that their fears and worries are real. You have to start with empathy before moving to logic. For your partner to bring about change, they need to feel seen and heard without shame.
Always encourage your partner to seek treatment, be it medication or therapy. Whenever required and possible, participate in the treatment. But don’t push. Be gentle in your suggestions towards seeking treatment.
Cultivate rituals and traditions outside of anxiety. This has to be done with your partner but also on your own. Whenever taking care of someone with anxiety becomes too much, address it in the relationship and take a step back.
Anxious thoughts distort the perception of reality. Ask yourself what the worst-case and best case scenarios are, and figure out the most realistic scenario. Evaluate your thoughts — are they absolutely true or is there any evidence to your thoughts?
Try breathing in for four counts and breathing out for four counts for a total of five minutes. By attempting to even out your breath, you’ll slow your heart rate which should help calm you down.
You hold anxiety in your body. Moving around, be it dance, stretching or yoga is necessary to dispense of that energy. Moreover, this also helps you focus on your body, instead of your mind, and that reduces anxiety.
Writing down your thoughts helps you articulate what’s going on in your mind. When you write something down, you are able to see the reality of the situation and analyse it for yourself.