Anxiety & Partners – How one thing leads to another

Many of us with Anxiety have specific anxiety triggers that start the cycle. Sitting in traffic, boss at work, walking the dog and talking to neighbors. If you have anxiety you know your triggers. One issue that turns bad moments into really bad moments is the accumulation of stress events. There are so many possible triggers it’s hard to list them all here but here are a couple of examples:

  • Out of sugar for your coffee
  • You spilled a little bit of the coffee
  • Your Toe itches
  • You hit your knee on your desk
  • You got a robo call on your cell

Little things right? The list could go on and on but the point is one thing leads to another and before you know it there are 5 things happening that are increasing your anxiety. From any one of these examples you could begin the anxiety cycle. There really isn’t a whole lot you can do about it either. Triggers are random and your life is unlike anyone else’s. Maybe you have an electric socket at your place that shorts out often? Maybe from time to time your pet relieves itself on the floor?

The point is stress triggers anxiety and anxiety for many of us can lead to debilitating conditions where we rationalize not getting out of bed for days. Here is an older article I have used in the past that talks about “snowball stress”, it’s essentially the same concept of “one thing leads to another”. The survey was conducted in England, it isn’t offering any solutions, but it does identify some key triggers.

Often Anxiety is like and itch you just can’t scratch.

“On average, Brits have 60 bad days every year, and the effects of the bad day run deep, with 70 percent of people saying they are unable to hide it if they’re in the midst of a doomed day.

On the upside, 36 percent of Brits say that their partner is the one person who can make them snap out of a bad mood, 31 percent said their pet does the trick, and slightly more than the 29 percent say their kids help most.

And it appears that some human contact can make us feel better, with 44 percent saying that a cuddle is most likely to cheer them up, followed by someone making them laugh (40 percent), watching TV (33 percent) and playing with their pet (30 percent).”

Of course in my examples I didn’t cover anything about our “partners” if you are in a relationship it’s likely your stress is triggered by the person you care a lot about. Why? This isn’t tricky but it’s something many of us are loathe to admit, we care a lot about what this other person thinks. Moreover, that person may not understand our anxiety triggers or (even worse) they understand completely and use it as a relationship tool. You can’t avoid things like leaving your lunch at home, or stepping in dog crap. Things like that happen randomly they will happen to you, you just have to get through it.

However, your choice of partner is something you have control over. If someone in your life plays a starring role in your stress talk to them and confront them. It’s critical that you communicate clearly what they are doing that affects you. Doing so is healthy, and always make them aware that it affects you because you care about them and you care about what they think. This will soften the conversation but a good understanding partner can be the difference between having a good day or having a stressful one.

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Anxiety and Partners

If you are lucky, you have someone special in your life. Your sexuality, gender, race doesn’t matter if you have someone special and you are happy that’s awesome. If you or your significant other has anxiety, it’s a test on so many levels it’s hard to boil it down to a few key situations. Anything can trigger anxiety, from the way someone closes the door, to how glasses clank at a restaurant.

I found a good article that discusses how anxiety affects our relationships.

From the article: “Because an anxiety disorder can be consuming, it can be best to start by talking with your partner about the ways anxiety affects daily life, like sleeplessness, says Jeffrey Borenstein, president and CEO of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation in New York. Something as simple as using the word “stress” instead of clinical labels can help too. “Often people may feel a little more comfortable talking about stress as opposed to … anxiety [disorders],”

The key is to be as up front and open as you can about anxiety. Have no fear at some point in your relationship anxiety will manifest itself in an unattractive way. Just like acne, anxiety will rear itself when you don’t want it and it’s a big moment in your life. Relationships that stretch through time give many opportunities to experience situations with someone else. This presents the issue of anxiety influencing how you or someone else feels.

Let’s face it, people who do not suffer with anxiety don’t understand that there are times when it can be debilitating to the point you don’t want to go out, or even get out of bed. How do you explain that to someone you are starting a relationship with? How do you explain that to someone whom you are in a relationship with and it affects plans you had? There will be resentment, anger and disappointment.

What to do? From the article: “Even if the perspective of the other person absolutely makes no sense to you logically, you should validate it,” Try to understand your partner’s fears and worries, or at least acknowledge that those fears and worries are real to your partner, before addressing why such things might be irrational.

It’s critical that if we are in a relationship with someone whether we have the anxiety, or they do that we talk about it rationally. Often labels are used because the individuals involved don’t have a better way to communicate what they are experiencing or observing. Over time through shared experiences and good dialogue you can really enhance your relationship. It takes time of course but living with anxiety doesn’t mean you have to be alone, it just means you must work harder at it.

That means taking the time to listen and, on the flip, side being understanding when someone doesn’t “get” your anxiety issues. Investing time, understanding and compassion = a better relationship long time. When you are kind to your partner, they are kind to you.