There is an abundance of information about how anxiety impacts your health—mentally, emotionally, and physically. Anxiety can cause periods of panic, feelings of fear or overwhelm, and a general sense of unease and tension. It can take over your thoughts and bleed into many areas of your life. Have you considered how anxiety destroys relationships with those closest to you?
Anxiety can harm your physical and mental health. It can be experienced as tension, overwhelm, fear or panic. This can be devastating to you, but have you ever considered the effects your anxiety has on the people closest to you? Anxiety can put a strain on the best of relationships
How Anxiety negatively affects relationships and what you can do about it.
1. Anxiety keeps the focus on you.
When you are anxious, that feeling is so overwhelming, all you can focus on is yourself. You are not as aware of the needs of others. You get worried about what is happening to you. It becomes difficult to see what is happening to those around you. As a result, you are not present with your relationships. It creates distance and distrust in others.
What to do? Mindfulness. Learning to stay present in the moment does not allow you to experience the feelings of anxiety. When you are truly anxious, you are focused on how you feel somatically; racing heart, rapid breathing. Being mindful helps you pull out of that focus. The goal is to ‘train your brain.” If you notice a feeling, let's say sadness, that allows your brain to wander to the past, notice what is happening. Then pull those thoughts to the reality of the present moment. What color is the wall in front of you? How does the chair you are sitting in feel on your back? What do you smell, taste hear?
You can build trust with your partner when you share how you are feeling. Make a conscious decision to reach out. Reaching out can be verbally or physically when you tend to isolate or react with anger.
2. Anxiety stops you from maintaining boundaries or expressing needs
Have you found that being anxious keeps you from allowing others to know what you want or need? You may find it difficult to establish and maintain personal boundaries with others. Having conversations about your true feelings can be uncomfortable. What happens when you do not express your needs? Anxiety can get stronger, and anxiety can hurt relationships. If you keep things in, you can get overloaded; feel defensive and overwhelmed.
Being anxious you tend to avoid anything that might be uncomfortable. But sometimes being anxious drives you into conversations. “I need to know now.” to stop the feelings of anxiety. There are many times that a time out in a conversation is needed before resolving differences.
So, what is the solution, express your feelings before the situation is a disaster. Try to talk to your partner with grace; kind and clear. When you can approach your partners free of intense emotions you can have a more thoughtful sharing of needs, thoughts and beliefs. Taking some time to consider your feelings will help reduce the intensity of our emotions. It allows you to have a productive conversation with your loved one.
3. Anxiety keeps you from feeling happy
When you are anxious, you feel anything but happy, free and unincumbered. Anxiety gives you that overwhelming fear and worry of every possible negative outcome of a situation. It takes over your physical sensations which demand your focus. In a relationship anxiety keeps you from enjoying new things, togetherness, sex and fun. With anxiety you are unable to enjoy time with others or be present within your relationships.
Humor can help you overcome the feelings of anxiety. The more present you are the more you can play, laugh, and enjoy the moment. Being playful and happy enhances your connections with others.
3. Anxiety, it's all about you.
Anxiety is a reaction to fear, real but mostly imagined. When you are anxious you focus on yourself much of the time. It makes sense though. If the fear is real your focus is on solutions to keep you safe. The problem is that if fear is based on something that is real, you likely have figured out the solution to address the problem. The resulting anxiety does not help you find a better solution. It generally moves into imaginary fears of “what if.”
Worry can put stress on a relationship. Your partner may try to help you problem solve. But the worry remains. Regardless of the suggestions the fear of the unknown outcome remains. Your partner can feel at a loss and unneeded. This can create distance in the relationship. This can lead to feelings of resentment. There is a snowball effect as emotions, and outlooks are contagious.
The answer is to increase your self-care, so your stress level stays under control. Take care of yourself. Be mindful of your fears. Consider them objectively. Ask for help when you need it, so you can get the support you need. And most importantly, apologize when you find your anxiety has made you a bit selfish.
As you increase your ability to regulate your anxiety, ask for what you need and take the focus off yourself you will see that your relationship can become stronger.
Working with one of the therapists at Global Therapy can help you understand your anxiety, find ways to emotionally regulate, self-care and build your relationships. The first step is the hardest. You will be glad you called us and put anxiety in your rear-view mirror .