How Addressing Anxiety Can Positively Impact Your Relationships
From social anxiety to anxiety attachment disorders, mental health can seriously impact how you interact with others. Although asking for help is primarily about you, there are also many surprising benefits that addressing anxiety can have on your relationships with others:
You become a better listener
Experiencing anxiety can make it difficult to be present. Sufferers will be familiar with the all-consuming sensations that accompany particularly bad points of the disorder — the constant mental chatter, the physical sensations of feeling sick or panicked, or that fight-or-flight sensation of something being badly wrong that requires your immediate and full attention. This can make it difficult to focus, whether a colleague is telling you about their weekend or a friend is pouring their heart out over a particularly terrible break-up.
An important component of addressing anxiety is the ability to compartmentalize fears and to accept that there is a time and a place to consider your worries — and this probably won’t be around the water cooler or over brunch. Once you learn to set anxious thoughts aside you’ll find yourself more engaged in social situations and more comfortable giving the people around you time and focus.
You have more mental space to focus on those around you
Anxiety disorders have a tendency to turn your attention inwards. Is that person angry with me? Did I say something wrong in that conversation? How could my actions result in a bad outcome?
A less anxious mind has the space to concentrate on fostering genuine connections and the energy to truly invest in relationships.
While meeting new people, you can find yourself giving little thought to whether you genuinely like a person or if you had any real connection, focusing more on your own social performance. How had I come across? Was I funny enough, or smart enough? And crucially, did they want to see me again? When your own shortcomings are relegated to second place it becomes infinitely easier to turn your focus outwards.
You learn how to let your guard down
Your perception of an event leads directly to your response. If you’re an anxious person then your perception will be warped, and in accordance so will your reaction. Once you stop assuming the worst it becomes easier to let people in. An ability to be vulnerable is crucial to building both romantic and platonic relationships, and letting your guard down means you’ll soon find yourself reaping the rewards of a more open and tolerant mindset.
You feel empowered to say no when you need to
Learning to prioritize your mental health means learning to practice a little self-care — and a key component of this is saying no every once in a while. This is a tricky skill to learn, and one that is at odds with some of the negative automatic thoughts that characterize anxiety disorders. Although sufferers of anxiety are more likely to feel a desire to avoid social scenarios, they are also more likely to feel the pressure to attend events or accept invites. What if our friends are annoyed that we duck out? What if everyone’s having fun without me? What if I stop getting invited?
Understanding that this is a construct of the anxiety disorder means that you’ll appreciate that you are allowed to say no — and people will understand. What’s more, prioritizing saying yes to the things that are genuinely important to you means that you’ll have the mental energy to be focused and relaxed when you do choose to socialize, making the time you spend with others happier and more valuable — and others will almost certainly recognize the change.
You realize that it’s OK to ask for help
We’re going to have moments when we can’t find the strength to stand, or when we just can’t do it alone. And in those moments is when we have to know that it’s okay to lean on others. It’s okay to seek assistance and love outside of ourselves. Being able to share our struggles it’s empowering and cathartic and reveals the benefits of asking for help, and the kindness and support it is possible to be met with when you do.