In A Relationship With Someone With Anxiety During COVID-19? Try This.

in a relationship with someone with anxiety

Are you in a relationship with someone with anxiety, living in the same house? Most often, we address this challenge from our perspective – the person who’s trying to cope with someone else who has anxiety.

But what about the person who suffers from anxiety? Isn’t it hard for them vis-a-vis others in their house? Thinking about their perspective – the person in the relationship who has the anxiety – can be particularly helpful.

Not only can understanding where they are coming from help you help them, but it can also help you cope with the stress  of their anxiety. Especially during these stressful coronavirus times.

People with anxiety might feel they are a burden on others, because at any time, they might:

1. Have a panic attack.

2. Withdraw.

3. Freeze.

4. Blow up in anger.

In other words, they might lose control, and it feels unpredictable. Even if their anxiety’s been in check for long periods of time, they might feel anxious about feeling anxious.

Anxiety drives irritation, and there’s so much fodder with this coronavirus, especially surrounding reopenings.

The anxious person might be at odds with housemates on how far to go, such as:

  • My wife wants to go back to the gym, but there aren’t any windows and no one wears a mask when they exercise. What if she catches the virus there?
  • My daughter wants to pick up her favorite smoothie for takeout, but maybe she should only get something that can be delivered, with gloves, and left at the door.
  • My friend wants to meet at a restaurant for a socially-distant meal, but I would rather not engage in any activity where we can’t protect ourselves with masks. Like eating.
  • My husband doesn’t think he needs to wear a mask at the grocery store, and I worry he’ll bring home the virus.

People who are anxious don’t want to impose their anxiety on others, but they do want to be heard. They do want their fears acknowledged as real. They want to be validated, even if they know their fears may be overblown, or feel guilty they are having such a hard time.

This is where instead of discussing the facts and stats, it can really help to discuss their feelings.

Give them a hug. Do a shared activity at home. If you’re in a relationship with someone with anxiety, the most effective way to make them feel safe is this: Show them love.

 

For more help managing anxiety and learning to use it as a tool, check out my book Hack Your Anxiety and the online digital tools I’ve developed here, or sign up for my free mini e-course here.

Photo by Külli Kittus on Unsplash

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

2 Comments

  1. Fazal Mayar on July 5, 2020 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for this piece Alicia. I think Anxiety can be a huge problem for your own health and not just for a relationship.

    • Chanel Pretorius on July 20, 2020 at 10:03 am

      I’ve been having intense relationship anxiety. I have been very open with my partner and he’s been understanding but it still hasn’t even started to go away. I really need recommendations what to do or how to feel positive about it. My mental health is really weak lately. No sleep at all. And I’m stressed as well. I really don’t know what’s going on.

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