Anxiety is never a thing to joke about. People who have anxiety might look normal and joyful on the outside, but you can never know what’s going on in their minds and what their thoughts are capable of doing.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a mental condition that’s usually caused by stress. When a person is experiencing anxiety, you may notice that they can act uneasy, have trouble sleeping at night, have problems concentrating, increased heart rate, and more. While anxiety can happen to anyone, some people experience them more often than others, leading to an anxiety disorder.
Ways To Help A Spouse Living With Anxiety
Since everyone is prone to experience anxiety, you need to ensure that you frequently check on people, especially those close to you like your spouse, and provide any assistance or help. After all, you should be with them as their number one support, given that you’ve exchanged vows to be with each other at all times.
To help you out, here are some ways on how you can help your spouse who’s living with anxiety:
1. Don’t Invalidate Their Feelings
Having anxiety is never a great thing to have. Thus, consider yourself lucky if you don’t have one. However, if your spouse is living with anxiety, they need every support they could get, especially from you.
When people experience anxiety, it may be difficult for them to admit they have one as they just want to think that what they’re going through is normal. This is because there’s an ongoing stigma when it comes to mental health. When people hear someone has mental health issues, they automatically think that they’re crazy. However, this isn’t the case. When someone has mental health issues, this may mean that they don’t know how to deal with their emotions or mental stressors, hence they tend to harm others or themselves.
If your spouse told you that they’re going through a hard time and are having anxiety, you should be with them and never tell them that their problems aren’t something they should think about. Never invalidate their feelings and make sure that you’re available to listen intently when they have something to say. You should also assure them that although you may not understand what they’re feeling, you’re still willing to help in any way that you can.
2. Seek Professional Help
If you feel that your spouse needs extra help that you cannot fulfill, you should bring up the idea of seeking professional help to put their anxieties away.
Conveniently, there’s plenty of anxiety treatment and counseling programs available that you could try. However, ensure that you look for the best service to ensure that your spouse would feel better. There’s nothing worse than going for professional help but they still fail to stabilize your spouse’s thoughts. It’ll only make them think that they’re a helpless case, making their anxiety worse.
As a start, you can search for professionals online, like Alvarado Parkway Institute’s anxiety counseling. By doing so, you’ll be able to see a list of services they can offer to each patient. As you search for professional help, you should also read their customer feedback to know how they perform. This will allow you to have peace of mind that you’re getting the much-needed professional service.
3. Understand That Every Anxiety Is Different
Anxiety plays a different effect on every individual; just because someone you know from work handles theirs well, it doesn’t mean that your spouse can. Thus, you have to understand that not everyone is capable of holding anxiety as every battle is different.
There are also different types of anxiety you need to be aware of:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – this type of anxiety is characterized by exaggerated worry and chronic anxiety. Individuals who experience GAD may be easily startled by minor details or are unable to relax in situations that everyone else seems to be able to cope with. GAD patients frequently complain of physical symptoms such as muscle tension, rapid pulse, dry mouth, and increased heart rate.
- Panic Disorder – this anxiety is characterized by unexpected or repeated episodes of intense fear with physical symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – this type of anxiety is characterized by unwanted obsessions or repetitive behaviors that provide them with temporary relief. People who have OCD are obsessed with various routines, ideas, or thoughts. For example, a person who has excessive thoughts about washing their hands or performing specific rituals.
- Social Phobia – this anxiety is characterized by overwhelming feelings of self-consciousness in social situations. Those who experience anxiety during these social situations tend to have trouble communicating with other people. They’ll often avoid these situations, hence they may only interact with those who are close to them. Those who experience social phobia often feel embarrassed and abnormal, as well as very self-conscious.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – this type of anxiety is developed from exposure to traumatic events. The patient may have recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts. People with PTSD may also experience physical symptoms, such as stomachaches, flashbacks, or heart palpitations.
It’s important that you identify the type of anxiety your spouse has so you can also provide them with the appropriate help on how they can manage their anxiety and identify triggers.
4. Ask Your Spouse How You Can Help
While you may want someone to hold your hand every time you feel stressed, some people could benefit from their alone time. With that, you may want to confirm first with your spouse how you should respond every time they have anxiety attacks. In this way, you can genuinely be helpful and avoid any additional tension, which can scar your relationship.
If you’re not comfortable asking your spouse how you should react during their anxiety attacks, you might want to consider testing the waters yourself. Ideally, you should try to be with them all the time. You can provide comforting words or even advice if they allow for it. However, if you notice that the tension is getting worse, you might want to give them some alone time. Just don’t forget to inform them what you’re doing so it won’t feel like you’re just leaving them into thin air.
As you try to comfort your spouse with their anxiety, you might want to consider asking them a question if they want you to help them relax or give them advice. In this way, you can be on the right track and provide what they need.
5. Help Them Manage Their Anxiety
There will be unavoidable scenarios wherein people experience a lot of stress, and this can trigger their anxiety. For some people who have mild anxiety, managing it is often a matter of learning to identify its triggers, and finding ways to reduce or eliminate them.
For other people, however, the causes are much deeper and have many more complicated roots. There may be a physical problem causing the feelings of anxiety, such as a physical illness. Other psychological factors, such as past trauma or childhood experiences, can also lead to extreme feelings of anxiety. It’s important that you help your spouse identify these triggers so you can also get the right help that they need.
If the trigger is based on a traumatic experience, they may need to see a specialist so they can work on their trauma. If the trigger comes from physical pain, you may also need to talk to a doctor on how they can help reduce their physical pain.
Some triggers may also come from thinking about the future or something they can’t control. One way to manage their anxiety is by distracting them from thinking about these things. You can help your spouse practice this by accompanying them to meditation classes.
A guided meditation for anxiety uses visualization as a tool for focusing awareness and clearing negative thoughts from their mind. Some focus on imagery and breathing control, while others have a more clinical approach by teaching patients how to deal with stressful situations.
6. Encourage Them To Join Support Groups
Some people find the best help from people who are going through the same path as them. While you may give the best encouragement, it might not be enough to help your spouse. To allow them to be comfortable to talk about their anxiety, they should share it with people who can relate to their experience. With that, you should encourage them to join support groups with people who are going the same path as them.
You can look for a support group in which they could get together weekly or even an online support group where they can communicate with each other during the day. In this way, your spouse will be more at peace knowing that they’re not alone in this and they can also talk to other people besides you about their problems. With a support group, they can also make new friends and recover from anxiety at the same time. Just ensure that you provide your maximum support as it’ll be for their mental health development.
7. Let Them Breathe Fresh Air
One of the ways you can help your spouse become distracted when they’re experiencing anxiety is to go for a walk and breath fresh air. Practicing deep breathing exercises alone can help them relax during a stressful situation.
Aside from that, one of the benefits of going outside to nature and breathing fresh air is that it helps a person feel less anxious and stressed. Looking at nature provides a positive and calm mood to people. This is because fresh air and sunlight can trigger the production of serotonin in the brain, which is the hormone responsible for providing a positive or happy feeling.
8. Motivate Them To Write Down Their Thoughts
Journaling is said to help reduce anxiety for some people. The benefits of journaling include controlling one’s anxiety by helping them improve their mood because writing can help them recognize their problems, fears, and concerns. Aside from that, it’s also an opportunity for them to track their symptoms and recognize their triggers. Writing down their thoughts also helps people with anxiety to identify negative thoughts and harmful behaviors when they’re in a stressful situation.
Encourage your spouse to keep a journal and allow them some alone time each day to meditate on what they should write in their journals. Also, it’s important to respect their privacy if they don’t want to share the content of their journals with you.
9. Create A Warm Bubble Bath
Getting a warm bath is said to provide several health benefits. For instance, in Japan, bathing in natural hot springs is considered a purifying way to clean your spirit. A warm bath helps the brain release endorphins that are similar when a person feels the sunlight on their skin. These endorphins help a person feel more relaxed and calmer. Aside from that, a warm bath can also help improve breathing. The warm water and the pressure on the chest help increase the lung capacity and oxygen intake.
When you feel that your spouse is stressed after a day’s work or when a stressful situation might trigger their anxiety, prepare a warm bath for them and ask them to take a few minutes to rest and relax. To make them feel more relaxed, you can add essential oils or calming scents in their bath.
10. Help Yourself Too
Helping your partner get through anxiety can be difficult and exhausting. In addition to providing support, you also need to extend your patience as well. With this, you shouldn’t forget that you need to take care of yourself, too.
During the times where your spouse is in a great mood, you should take it to your advantage by making yourself happy. You could hang out with other people, do your favorite hobby, practice yoga, or even take a relaxing bath. A person who’s in the right mental capacity would be more effective in helping other people cope with anxiety.
Having a spouse who’s going through anxiety can be difficult. While it may be challenging to support them, you also need to know that they’re going through a much more difficult phase. If you want to help them, understanding what type of anxiety they have and their triggers is the first thing you should do. This will be the basis if they need professional help or medications.
As a spouse, you should also encourage and help them by validating their feelings, letting them join support groups, and allowing them to have their alone time so they can process their thoughts. You should also encourage self-care practices like going out, enjoying the fresh air, and relaxing with a warm bath. Lastly, as you take care of your spouse, don’t forget to help yourself, too.