How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety
It’s entirely possible to overcome relationship anxiety although relationship anxiety symptoms can be brutal. But by attending to each other, yourself, and the relationship, you can break free from anxiety’s control. Read on to discover how you can overcome relationship anxiety.
How to Start Overcoming Relationship Anxiety
Some important themes provide a context for overcoming relationship anxiety and serve as a positive starting point for moving past anxious thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are damaging what you and your partner have together. Relationships without problematic anxiety have these healthy features:
- Both parties work together toward common goals
- These goals are crafted and held by both people to shape a sense of why they’re together
- The couple plans how they’ll work toward their goals, what little things they can do together to live their values
The best general way to overcome relationship anxiety is to focus less on the anxiety and more on how you’ll move past it as well as what you’ll replace it with. This applies to what you do as a couple and what you do as an independent individual.
Overcoming Relationship Anxiety as a Couple
Reducing anxiety’s negative impact on your relationship involves:
- Discovering and sharing common interests and activities
- Finding ways to support each other
- Open communication
These might seem like things that would increase anxiety in the relationship, not reduce it. For some, the idea of asserting interests and desired activities could nearly induce panic. And honesty and open communication can be anxiety-provoking for anyone. Will these really help overcome relationship anxiety?
The simple answer is yes. That doesn’t mean that they will be easy, though. Moving forward in positive directions usually involves a degree of discomfort as you grow. But discomfort now can dislodge anxiety and lead to calm, peaceful feelings that allow you to enjoy your partner and relationship.
Communication is paramount. Especially important:
- Remember that you and your partner can’t read each other’s minds. Trying to do so makes anxiety skyrocket because you’re basically reading a book with the cover closed, guessing what’s inside and creating your own fictitious ideas.
- Share your thoughts and feelings. It means being vulnerable, but it also means you are letting your partner better understand your anxiety, your triggers and needs—and you
- Intentionally reach out to each other, requesting and giving support
Additionally, make time for fun together, doing something enjoyable for no other reason than to spend light-hearted time together. Laugh together. Anxiety is heavy and serious. Counter it with laughter and humor. When you give yourselves a break from anxiety, you begin to move past it.
Another thing that many people in relationships find helpful is couples’ therapy. Working together with a therapist who specializes in relationships can be effective in overcoming relationship anxiety in addition to strengthening your connection as a couple.
To overcome relationship anxiety requires work as a couple. It also involves individual work on the part of the person experiencing anxiety. Overcoming anxiety in a relationship needs a reduction in individual anxiety ("Anxiety and Romantic Relationships: How to Help Your Anxiety-Ridden Partner?").
How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety as an Individual with Anxiety
A key to reducing your anxiety when you’re in a relationship is to be patient and kind with yourself. Anxiety is frustrating, and it interferes in seemingly everything. Remind yourself of all you’re doing and the positive things you bring to your relationship.
As you turn your focus inward, observe what anxiety’s critical voice is telling you. Notice how you react. How can you change your reactions? Slow down and respond rather than react. When you do respond, base it on reality rather than what anxiety is telling you is real.
Other strategies to help you overcome anxiety in your relationship include:
- Learn about your true self; understand you, not just your anxiety
- Cultivate self-compassion
- Notice your positive traits (and your partner’s, too)
- Express appreciation for your partner, and be grateful for things you do, too
- Consider individual therapy to help you put your anxious thoughts in perspective
- Develop, perhaps with a therapist, ways to reassure yourself so you don’t have to rely solely on your partner for reassurance
Learn who you are, what strengths you have, and what type of support can help you deal with anxiety. Licensed marriage and family therapist, Kristine Tye, (2015) summarizes it well: “Attend to your needs, not your fears.” Instead of getting stuck in worries, turn your attention to what you need right now to move ahead.
Working to reduce your own anxiety while simultaneously working with your partner to reduce anxiety in the relationship can build a healthy bond between the two of you. As you and your partner become closer and better able to enjoy each other, your own individual anxiety will diminish. When your own anxiety lessens, your relationship will benefit. It’s a positive circle and one that rolls ahead to overcome relationship anxiety.
Peterson, T. (2019, April 17). How to Overcome Relationship Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/anxiety-panic/relationships/how-to-overcome-relationship-anxiety