Mental Wellness

Terms like gaslighting, love bombing, and breadcrumbing are doing the rounds, helping many people finally understand why they have relationship anxiety. But, the spectrum of anxiety runs much deeper, and dealing with it begins with fixing your relationship with yourself.

This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take a closer look at how small wellness rituals practiced every day can ease your anxiety and help you have a more fulfilling relationship.

So, What is Relationship Anxiety?

Low self-esteem, feeling scared to say how you feel in an argument, or checking your phone over and over again to see if they’ve texted you back… does this sound like you? Chances are, you have relationship anxiety. It’s when butterflies in your stomach turn into the feeling of a pit in your stomach. This is because the gut is your second brain, and your gut is telling you: “Something doesn’t feel right.”

10 Signs You Have Relationship Anxiety

Anxiety is often a villainized emotion. But fascinatingly, it’s your body’s built-in survival mechanism that warns you of dangers that lie ahead. It’s designed to protect you from harm, so feeling anxious now and then in your relationship is extremely normal.

Here are 10 common signs you have relationship anxiety:

  1. You often question whether, or how much, you matter to your partner.
  2. People say you are different when you are around your partner.
  3. You walk on eggshells around your partner because you’re afraid to upset them.
  4. There’s a lack of trust, causing you to feel jealous or insecure in your relationship.
  5. You sabotage the relationship—this can often look like preemptively rejecting or abandoning your partner because you fear he/she may leave you.
  6. You derive your self-worth based on how your partner treats you.
  7. You try to control your partner and demand demonstrations and declarations as proof of their love.
  8. You spend more time worrying about the relationship than enjoying it.
  9. Your friend group gets smaller, and your life, plans, and decisions revolve around your partner.
  10. You experience physical and mental signs of stress like sweaty palms, a racing heartbeat, a sinking feeling, bouts of overwhelming emotion, or irregular eating and sleeping patterns.

What Causes Relationship Anxiety?

You may wonder why some people experience relationship anxiety while others don’t. In fact, sometimes it can be frustrating that things that bother you don’t seem to bother your partner.

So, let’s look at some common causes of relationship anxiety:

  1. Bad Experiences In Past Relationships: If you’ve been cheated on, manipulated, abandoned, or lied to by a previous partner, you’re likely to have a hard time feeling secure in your current relationship because of a trust deficit.
  2. You Have Low Self-Esteem: If you think someone is too good for you, it’s going to lead to you bending over backwards to please them to keep them in your life.
  3. You Have An Anxious Attachment Style: Attachment styles—secure, avoidant, or anxious—develop during childhood and can affect how we relate to our partners. If as a child your needs were met inconsistently or met only when you behaved a certain way, you’re likely to have an anxious attachment style. This leads to adult relationship anxiety because you constantly fear rejection and need approval from your partner.
  4. Your Partner’s Actions Are Anxiety-inducing: You will feel anxious when your partner is lying, texting other people on the sly, making decisions without including you, saying words that don’t match their actions, lovebombing you, or gaslighting you. In such cases, your gut is firing warning signals to tell you this relationship is unhealthy and unsafe for you to thrive.
  5. You Are Not The Right Fit For Each Other: It’s very common for two people to be great individually and yet make a bad couple. If your upbringing, family values, thoughts, choices, parenting styles, and needs from a relationship are in constant conflict, the relationship will give you anxiety.

9 Wellness Practices To Help You Overcome Relationship Anxiety

Wellness practices that focus on self-love and filling your own cup can prove to be extremely effective in overcoming relationship anxiety. But they work best when they are done consistently, every day.

So, let’s take a look at some wellness rituals that will help you have a fulfilling relationship with your partner, and yourself:

  • Cultivate A Positive Relationship With Yourself
    We often find it easier to love, forgive, and celebrate others but don’t grant ourselves the same grace and warmth. Treat yourself with compassion and appreciate the parts of you that are perfect, and also not so perfect. A good way to do this is to try mirror work. Stand in front of a mirror and check in with yourself and how you feel every day. Use this time for positive self-talk, empathy, compliments, and forgiveness without judgment. The mirror will reflect your positive thoughts and vibrations.
  • Change What You Can, Let Go Of What You Cannot
    Anxiety is often brought on by a sense of lack of control. We want to control the outcome of our relationship, how our partner treats us or loves us, or how our relationship looks to the outside world. Recognize that none of this is in your control. What’s in your control is you—your actions, your thoughts, your decisions. Focus on personal growth by healing your past traumas through therapy, meditating to calm anxious thoughts, or breaking negative thought patterns by focusing on the positives.
  • Practice Gratitude
    Every day, list 5 things you are grateful for in the day. This could be something as simple as a good night’s sleep, to something more abundant like a new job. When we celebrate small wins, they magnify our happiness and reduce our anxiety. But when we focus on what’s going wrong, we amplify the negative energy and attract more chaos, anxiety, and uncertainty in our lives.
  • Use Positive Affirmations
    Anxiety stems from a place of insecurity. When you use statements that affirm your self-worth and challenge negative self-talk, it shifts you to a higher plane—one of security. Affirmations to release relationship anxiety could sound like: “I am worthy of love and respect in my relationship”, “I communicate my needs and boundaries with clarity”, “I let go of the past and embrace a nurturing future”, “I trust myself, I love myself, I accept myself”.
  • Journal Your Anxious Thoughts
    Multiple studies show that writing down how you feel can significantly reduce feelings of anxiety or distress. In a relationship, journals become a place to vent when you are overwhelmed so that you can approach your partner at a later time when you are feeling calm and collected. Journaling also helps you track and identify triggers that are making you anxious. This self-awareness is needed to start working on solutions.
  • Prioritize Self-Care
    Make self-care and spending time with yourself a non-negotiable part of every day. This could look like taking a relaxing bath, indulging in some mindful skincare, going for a walk alone, or even giving yourself a face massage before bed. Small acts of self-love help you own your happiness and nurture your body, mind, and soul.
  • Embrace Mindfulness
    A great way to ground yourself, mindfulness activities like belly breathing, meditation, and yoga can make you feel calm when you are experiencing relationship anxiety. They force you to refocus your chaotic thoughts and feelings and diffuse the stress in your mind and body.
  • Communicate Your Feelings
    People who have anxiety are often experiencing the same situation very differently than their partners. Therefore, you need to tell your partner ‘how’ something is making you feel. You both don’t have to agree on the why, but people in healthy, loving relationships are able to be empathetic even when they aren’t able to relate with their partner.
  • Maintain Your Independence
    Maintaining your independence by having your own friends, hobbies, interests, work conversations, and family time is important to reduce relationship anxiety. This helps enrich the conversations you have with your partner and also helps build trusting, loving relationships and a solid support system all around you.
  • In the end, remember, you have you! And you need to be able to make yourself feel safe. When you feel secure as an individual, you will be able to enjoy your relationship and be more resilient in the face of highs and lows. Relationship anxiety is a chance for us to break an unhealthy cycle or heal a part of ourselves that is broken. If you continue to feel unable to cope, don’t be afraid to seek professional help by going for individual, or couple’s therapy.