How To Overcome Relationship Anxiety: Everything You Need To Know
Anxiety is something we all suffer from at some point throughout our lives. For many, it is a feeling we get when we are worried or unsure about something. It may cause you to feel nervous before a job interview or be a little flustered before meeting your girlfriend’s parents. These moments of anxiety are often short-lived and will disappear almost as soon as they appeared. But for some, this isn’t the case.
For many, anxiety becomes a disorder that can interfere with all areas of their life. This can be very concerning when it comes to your relationship. It is often derived from a lack of self-esteem and can cause you to begin to constantly question your relationship with your partner. The anxiety you have can impact negatively and cause major issues. But don’t give up hope as there are ways you can overcome anxiety and fix your confidence issues.
What Is Anxiety?
The American Psychological Association describes anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” It comes to the fore when we are stressed or worried about something with an uncertain outcome. Mentally it causes you to worry, feel nervous, or uneasy. It also manifests itself physically by causing fatigue, nausea, body aches, and sleeplessness.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one-third of adults in the US will suffer from some form of out-of-control anxiety. This is quite a large number of people. While most people who suffer anxiety quickly recover, it can be a sign of an underlying disorder for some.
What Is Anxiety Disorder?
For those who suffer anxiety on a regular basis or who have greater side effects, it is possible you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can cause you to try to avoid situations that trigger your symptoms. This can impact your work, family, and relationship with your partner. To be classified as a disorder your anxiety must hinder you from functioning normally. So if you find yourself curled up in a ball on the ground, you need help.
The US Department of Health & Human Services lists five major types of anxiety disorders. They are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – This is chronic anxiety that occurs often without any prompting
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Characterized by repetitive behaviors, such as washing your hands multiple times, cleaning, or opening and closing doors or cupboards
- Panic Disorder – Often leads to panic attacks which can cause chest pain, heart palpitations, and breathing difficulty
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – While most commonly associated with soldiers, anyone who has experienced a traumatic physical situation can suffer from this disorder
- Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) – This manifests itself in everyday situations when other people are involved, such as public speaking or being in crowded places
Now, these are the worst-case scenarios when it comes to anxiety. Most people only suffer symptoms such as nervousness or fear that quickly vanish once they get on with things. If this isn’t the case for you, there is a chance you have an anxiety disorder and should contact your local doctor and discuss your symptoms and feelings with them.
What Is Anxiety in a Relationship?
You don’t have to suffer from an anxiety disorder to be anxious in your relationship. There is a host of things that can cause you to worry when it comes to you and your partner. Maybe you feel like she isn’t as interested in you as she was when you first started dating. Or does the amount of time she spends at work have you wondering what she is up to?
There are many reasons why you might feel anxiety in your relationship, but it does not signal the end of things. It is normal to have feelings of jealousy or emotional fear in your relationship. You just have to work through these issues and discover why you feel like that and try and change your behaviors.
Signs of Relationship Anxiety
There is a variety of reasons you might feel anxious about your partner and how your relationship is going. Below are some of the main signs of anxiety in a relationship you might relate to.
Worrying Your Partner Doesn’t Value You
A common sign is being anxious about whether your partner values you and your relationship. “The most common expression of relationship anxiety relates to underlying questions of ‘Do I matter?’ or ‘Are you there for me?’” Astrid psychotherapist Robertson explained to Healthline. “This speaks to a fundamental need to connect, belong, and feel secure in a partnership.” If you are constantly worried your partner is not with you for the right reasons or doesn’t really care for you the same way you do for them, then this is a big sign of anxiety.
Thinking They Don’t Love You
One of the most common signs of anxiety is caused when people think their partner doesn’t love you. It is obvious if you believe that your other half doesn’t love you it will cause problems in your relationships and wreak havoc with your mental health.
Afraid They Want To Break Up With You
You should feel secure, respected, and supported in a loving relationship. When you don’t have these feelings it makes you start to wonder if your partner really wants to be with you. You manifest fears of breaking up and this could cause you to let them get away with more in the relationship so they don’t leave, even though they may have no intention of breaking your heart.
Wondering If You Are Compatible
No matter how long we are with someone, there are always going to be things you don’t agree on or have differences about. Just because your partner doesn’t enjoy sport shouldn’t mean you start thinking about ending it all, but this can happen If you continually doubt if you are compatible and wonder if there is someone else more suited to you. It will increase your anxiety levels.
What Causes Anxiety in a Relationship?
So what causes anxiety in a relationship? While the above signs give a good indication of what to look out for, there are deeper issues at heart. It can often be hard to pinpoint exactly why, but for many, it has to do with previous relationships and your childhood. Here are a few of the main causes:
- Low self-esteem
- Previous poor relationship experiences (being cheated on, dumped for no reason, etc.)
- Attachment style disorder
- Abandonment issues
- The myth of the perfect partner
Even if you suffer from anxiety and it impacts your relationship, it can be conquered. It will take time and a lot of patience, especially from your partner, but will be worth it. “I can tell someone their anxiety doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an underlying problem in the relationship, and indeed they may be well-loved,” Robertson told Healthline. “But until they have felt [a] sense that all is well, that they truly are safe and secure, the anxiety will likely persist.”
So how do you overcome your anxiety issues? Here is a list of ways you can explore your issues and work through them so you can your partner can continue to have a loving relationship.
1. Get To the Bottom of Things
The first thing you need to do is work out why you feel the way you do. If you notice some of the signs listed previously in this article, then start to process your feelings and work out why you get anxious and feel the way you do. It may be something as simple as having jealous tendencies or struggling with low self-esteem, or it could be something more. If this is the case you might want to speak to a professional who can dig a little deeper into your feelings of anxiety.
Be sure to communicate all of this with your partner so understand how you are feeling. They could be oblivious to your anxiety or think it is nothing serious when it is actually a debilitating disorder impacting your everyday life. Be honest and open with them and let them understand what is going on. They will no doubt want to support you in any way they can, which will help you realize how much they love you and be a key to helping you overcome your anxiety issues.
Following on from the above point, be sure to communicate honestly with your partner. Being vulnerable in a relationship is a big thing and the only way you are going to make your partner understand what you are feeling. Be sure to communicate in a clear and concise way. One big tip is to use ‘I’ instead of ‘you.’ Don’t say to your partner, “You are always going out with your friends and it is making me really upset and angry.” Say something like, “I am feeling anxious and jealous when you go out as I fear you don’t want to spend as much time with me.” This way you are not being combative, but getting your point across by saying how you feel and not accusing your partner of being the one at fault.
3. Maintain Your Independence
Remember to separate your life from your relationship. It is not healthy to be spending every waking moment with your partner, which can escalate your anxiety. You need to have time to yourself where you can do the things you want and keep that part of your personality alive and well. Otherwise, you can lose a sense of your identity and this can cause your anxiety levels to shoot through the roof.
4. Control Your Emotions
It can be very easy to lash out or engage in destructive behavior when anxious. Anxiety can be caused by jealousy and always wondering where your girlfriend is or who she is with, This might cause you to start aggressively texting her and calling her, or worse, directing this anger towards her in a physical or emotional way. You need to stop yourself from getting so caught up in things and allow yourself a breather before talking to your partner about your feelings in a calm manner. If you can express yourself truthfully she will be more understanding of how you feel and be able to help you overcome your anxiety.
5. Be More Mindful
When negative thoughts begin to creep into your mind and you can feel yourself growing anxious, try your best to put them to the side. Understand that these feelings are there, but don’t indulge in them. This is similar to trying to control your emotions and not something that is always easily achievable. One way you can try and harness your feelings is by practicing mindful meditation. Focus on your feelings and the situation and let go of all judgments. Being mindful also involves doing simple exercises to do with your breathing and the way you process thoughts so you can calm yourself down and control your anxiety.
6. Acknowledge Your Feelings
Be sure to acknowledge what you are feeling but do so in a positive way. Emotions can run hot and cold and change like the wind, so to help you from being up and down in your relationships, make sure you acknowledge them and process them in a positive way. As Choosing Therapy says, “Instead of saying, ‘I always push people away and nobody loves me,’ say ‘I attract love and people are drawn to my warmth and energy.” Keep things positive and look at the upside.
7. Show Appreciation To Those Close To You
If you are suffering from any form of anxiety, it can be mentally and emotionally taxing. It can strike at any time and manifest in a variety of ways. Along with the way it impacts you, it will also have an effect on your partner, family, and friends. They will no doubt do all they can to help you through these moments and be there for you when life gets tough. Be sure to let them know you appreciate what they are doing and acknowledge their role in your life.
This can only help strengthen your bond, especially in a relationship. If your partner feels her support is helping she will continue to do all she can to help improve your mental health. On the flip side, if you feel loved and know she has your back, it can help ease your feelings of anxiety and be a big factor in overcoming the way it impacts your life.
I know what you’re thinking, how can exercise help with my anxiety? Well, you would be surprised what a little yoga session or run around the park can do to improve mental health. One recent study found that those who exercise regularly are 27% less likely to develop anxiety. Now don’t think exercise is going to solve all your problems, but if you are feeling like the walls are closing in, take a breath, calm yourself, and get stuck into some exercise. It can help clear your mind and gives you time to sort through your feelings.
9. Seek Professional Help
If analyzing your feelings with your partner or practicing meditation doesn’t seem to be working, it might be time to seek help from a professional. There are many great people who specialize in anxiety and anxiety disorders who can help you take control and get your life back on track. This can be done solo or with your partner. Contact your local GP and get yourself a recommendation for the best health professional in your area. It doesn’t have to be multiple sessions either. A 2017 study found that even attending one therapy session is beneficial for those suffering from anxiety in their relationship.
Anxiety impacts a huge number of people across the world. Don’t be worried if you suffer from bouts of anxiety in your relationship. If you can identify the problem there are many ways, as detailed in this piece, how to overcome it. Look for the signs, understand what causes your anxiety, and then try your best to discover ways to help you defeat anxiety. You can do it!
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