In a world that can leave people feeling overwhelmed or stressed, it’s essential to know how to support yourself or your partner with anxiety.
World Anxiety Day may have been in June, but we think anxiety should be under the spotlight every day of the year.
Anxiety is a common challenge many Australians confront on a daily basis.
According to the ABS, 3.3 million Aussies suffer from anxiety and with more awareness about it, anxiety is more understood, and stigma surrounding it is dissipating.
Supporting an anxious partner is an act of profound love that will no doubt deeply and positively impact the relationship, and journey of managing anxiety.
By fostering open communication, and offering patience and reassurance, a strong foundation of trust and understanding can be established creating a healthy support network.
Keep in mind boundaries when navigating and supporting a partner (and yourself) with anxiety. Partners should be supportive, but it’s also important to recognise when professional help is needed and when not to take on the role of a therapist.
1. Research What It Is
Understanding anxiety is the first step in offering effective support. Reading this article serves as an excellent starting point.
Take the time to research and learn about the various types of anxiety disorders, symptoms, and potential triggers. This knowledge will not only help empathise better but also enable the anticipation of an anxious partner’s needs during difficult times.
2. Open Communication
Create a safe space where feelings can be expressed freely. Encourage open and honest conversations about anxiety, allowing them to share thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Actively listen, validate emotions, and ensure that there is support for them.
3. Be Patient and Understanding
Anxiety can be unpredictable and may manifest differently from one person to another. Patience is key when dealing with an anxious partner.
Understand that their worries might not always make sense, but they are very real to them. Offer support without belittling their feelings.
4. Offer Reassurance
Anxious thoughts frequently relate to uncertainty and fear. Reassuring a constant presence in their life, emphasizing strengths and past successes, and offering small affectionate gestures and love reminders significantly alleviate anxious thoughts.
5. Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help
Encouragement to seek professional support from therapists or counsellors is a great step in the right direction.
Offer to accompany appointments if they feel comfortable and participate in any therapy sessions that welcome involvement. The presence of a loved one can provide additional comfort during a healing journey.
6. Practice Mindfulness Together
Mindfulness is a mental state and practice that involves being fully present and engaged in the current moment, without judgment or distraction. Introducing a loved one to mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga is an excellent way to improve wellbeing.
Engaging in these practices together can help reduce anxiety symptoms for both individuals and strengthen the relationship’s bond. Apps and online resources make it easy to get started while most suburbs these days will have a yoga studio or two.
If yoga or meditation isn’t the right fit activities like colouring in, walking in nature or watching a great film can help bring in the present moment too. Mindfulness is a skill that anyone can gain with practice and improving this capability enhances self-awareness, reduces stress, and improves emotional regulation.
7. Respect Coping Strategies
Individuals develop unique coping mechanisms for managing anxiety. Some might prefer alone time, while others find comfort in spending time with loved ones.
Respecting their choices and expressing unwavering support shows that they’re not alone in their journey.
8. Avoid Triggers When Possible
Learn about anxiety triggers and collaborate to minimise exposure to them. This might involve making small adjustments to routines or environments.
However, it’s essential to avoid enabling avoidant behaviour that could hinder progress.
9. Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Physical well-being significantly impacts mental health. Encourage engaging in regular physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, and prioritising sufficient sleep.
Set a great example and prioritise a healthy lifestyle too. These habits contribute to a more stable mood and can alleviate anxiety symptoms.
10. Take Care
Supporting an anxious partner can be emotionally demanding. It is important to prioritise personal wellbeing too. Engaging in activities that bring joy, seeking support from friends or family, and considering joining support groups for partners of individuals with anxiety are essential steps.
Taking care will minimise the risk of burn-out, reduce stress and help maintain personal well-being.
During challenging times, accessing appropriate support is crucial. These are dedicated 24/7 helpline services which aid with individuals dealing with anxiety and related mental health concerns.
These resources stand as pillars of support, helping individuals and their loved ones navigate through the challenges of anxiety with care and understanding.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636