How to Date Someone with Anxiety

While anxiety disorders are common and manageable, dating someone with anxiety can still be challenging. While you should provide support, you still need to set and enforce clear boundaries. Sometimes, striking a balance between pushing them and supporting them isn’t easy. With patience, open communication, and the help of a mental health professional, you and your partner can find that balance together.[1]
EditSteps
EditProviding Daily Support
Learn about your partner’s specific anxiety disorder. Specific disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Each of these involve distinct symptoms, triggers, and courses of treatment. Look for resources on your partner’s specific disorder, and ask about what triggers their anxiety.[2]
Find helpful resources at https://www.anxiety.org.

If your partner sees a mental health professional, ask for more information about the specific anxiety disorder. Discuss how you can play an active role in treatment, such as by assisting your partner with anxiety-reduction techniques.

Encourage them to seek treatment, if they haven’t already. If they’re nervous about seeking treatment, suggest that they see their primary doctor first. For some people, a “regular” doctor is less intimidating than a mental health professional. Express that you care about them, and remind them that they shouldn’t feel ashamed for getting treatment.[3]
If they’re hesitant, try to ease their concerns. Say, “There’s no difference between taking care of your physical and mental health. Anxiety disorders are illnesses; try not to worry about being judged for seeking treatment.”

Additionally, encourage your partner to stick with treatment, take any prescribed medication, and to do their homework. Their therapist will likely ask them to do breathing techniques, write in a journal, exercise, or practice cognitive behavioral exercises.

They may be nervous about taking medication. However, a therapist can help them try techniques to help manage their anxiety without medication, depending on the type and severity of their condition.

Affirm that they can confide in you without fear of judgment. Reassure your partner that they can be vulnerable with you and express any churning, anxious thoughts. They might tend to jump to conclusions, have racing thoughts, or convince themselves that you’ve left or are hurt if they don’t hear from you. Keeping these thoughts and feelings bottled up can feed their anxiety, so tell them it’s safe to confide in you.[4]
Say, “Please come to me if you’re feeling panicked, especially if it’s about our relationship. If you start thinking negatively or obsessively, try to breathe and tell your mind to stop racing. I’m here for you, I care about you, and I get that anxiety can involve overwhelming negative thoughts.”

Communicate with your partner so they’ll worry less. Within reason, try to check in with your partner, especially if they tend to jump to conclusions or think the worst. For instance, if you know you’ll be late, send them a text so they won’t convince themselves that you’re lying in a ditch somewhere.[5]
Note that checking in with them can be helpful, but you should still enforce boundaries. Letting them know you’re running late is one thing, but it’s not okay for them to call you at work every hour.

Help them develop and stick to management strategies. Discuss their triggers, and work with them to set goals related to managing their anxiety. For instance, if they have social anxiety, a goal might be to go to a public place once a week.[6]
Coping strategies to prevent a panic attack might include breathing exercises and positive visualization.

If they tend to procrastinate and experience panic attacks when work piles up, help them manage their time effectively.

Keep in mind there’s a difference between management strategies and avoiding triggers altogether. For example, locking themselves in the house with the curtains drawn to avoid a panic attack just perpetuates social anxiety.[7]

Praise their accomplishments, even if they seem minor. Even if they take baby steps, call out healthy behavior and celebrate it. Positive reinforcement can encourage them to keep up their hard work.[8]
Suppose their anxiety disorder has prevented them from landing a steady job. If they made a resume and start sending out applications, praise them, even if they haven’t gotten an interview yet. Say, “These are big steps, and I know you’re putting a lot of effort forth. I’m proud of you.”

EditDealing with Common Challenges
Remember that your partner isn’t choosing to be anxious. It’s normal to feel frustrated, angry, or annoyed. However, try to be frustrated or annoyed with a situation at hand, not with your partner. They’re experiencing a mental illness; they’re not choosing to have panic attacks or anxious states to spite you.[9]
If your partner has trouble with crowds, you might be upset that they don’t attend social occasions with you. Sometimes, serious anxiety disorders make it difficult to stay employed, which might put a financial strain on you. If you have kids together, you might be frustrated that parenting responsibilities aren’t divided equally.

Situations such as these are tough, but try to work with your partner to resolve them instead of holding resentment.

It may help to attend a support group for loved ones of people with anxiety. Ask your partner’s therapist for a recommendation or look for one in your area online.

Set clear boundaries instead of enabling your partner. Providing emotional support doesn’t mean you have to give up your life to accommodate your partner. When you enforce your boundaries, keep your tone firm, but loving. Don’t yell at them or make them feel bad, but make it clear that you have the right to do things independently.[10]
Suppose they always want you to stay home with them, and get upset when you leave to hang out with friends. Say, “I care about you, and I want to be there for you. But I have to meet my own needs, too. I need to spend time with my friends, get out of the house, and do things independently.”

Balance honesty and compassion if you need to handle a conflict. Bring up your concerns instead of bottling them up, and be direct with your partner. Criticizing them harshly can make things worse, so try to be gentle and avoid making accusations.[11]
Use “I” statements when you attempt to resolve a conflict. Suppose your partner has been calling you at work non-stop, and they get upset when you can’t pick up the phone. Telling them, “You need to stop calling me so much,” comes off as accusatory, and might make them more anxious.

Instead, say, “I’m concerned that I could get in trouble for taking calls at work. I don’t want you to be upset or to take this personally. But, unless it’s an emergency, it would help me if you could try relaxation techniques or send a text or email instead of calling.”

See a couples counselor who has experience with anxiety disorders. If you’re having trouble resolving conflicts on your own, a counselor can help you find compromises. Even if you’re not dealing with significant challenges, seeing a counselor can help you better understand your partner’s anxiety disorder.[12]
Don’t think of couples counseling as a red flag that your relationship is on the rocks. Rather, seeing a counselor means that you’re willing to put effort into your relationship. Every couple faces challenges, and there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help.

Keep in mind that you aren’t your partner’s therapist or counselor. Attending couple’s counseling may help you maintain that boundary.

EditMeeting Your Own Needs
Pursue your own interests and hobbies. You should still pursue activities you enjoy, even if they trigger your partner’s anxiety disorder. Being a supportive partner doesn’t mean their anxiety should take over your life.[13]
Suppose they have social anxiety, but you love to go to concerts. If your favorite band comes to town, go to their show with a few friends. They don’t have to go, but you shouldn’t sit it out just because your partner can’t tolerate large crowds.

You can’t force your partner to do something that makes them uncomfortable, and they can’t force you to give up your passions. Furthermore, keeping up with your hobbies and interests is an important part of maintaining your own physical and mental health.

Set aside time to relax. Try to find time to read a good book, listen to music, take a bubble bath, or do other relaxing activities. If you can’t fit daily me-time into your schedule, try to fit it in at least a few days a week.[14]
Juggling daily responsibilities is stressful enough; supporting your partner can add even more pressure.

Managing stress will help you maintain your own mental health and avoid burnout. Being stressed out and stretched thin would take a toll on you, your partner, and your relationship.

Keep in touch with your support system. If you’re frustrated or overwhelmed, you’re better off talking to a friend or relative than you are taking it out on your partner. When you need to vent, call a trusted loved one and confide in them.[15]
Finding a support group or seeing a counselor individually can also help you maintain your mental and emotional well-being.

EditHelping Them Manage a Panic Attack
Remind your partner that their feelings of panic will pass. Tell them that you understand they’re experiencing something overwhelming and frightening. Let them know that they’re safe, that their feelings of anxiety or panic will not last forever, and that they’ll feel better soon.[16]
Say, “I know this is difficult, and catching your breath and relaxing may seem impossible. Remember that this will pass. You’re safe, you’re going to be okay and, if you want, I’ll be right here until it passes.”

Ask your partner how you can help. If you’ve never experienced symptoms of an anxiety disorder, acknowledge that you don’t completely understand what a panic attack is like. Instead of telling your partner to calm down or trying to assume what they need, ask them what you can do to help.[17]
Tell them, “I’ve never had a panic attack, but I know it’s not as simple as just willing yourself to relax. What can I do to help you get through it?” Everyone is different, but they might ask you to breathe with them, help them visualize soothing scenery, or simply sit by them and hold their hand.

During an anxious state, your partner might not be able to clearly communicate what they need. It’s wise to discuss what you should do to help when they’re not in the midst of a panic attack. They could also write a list of helpful actions for you.

Count and breathe deeply with them. Ask them to do their best to breathe deeply into their abdomen. Let them know you get that they feel like they have to gasp for air, but slow, deep belly breaths can help them feel better.[18]
Ask them to breathe in slowly and gently through their nose, fill up their belly with air, and breathe out slowly through their mouth. Counting to 5 while inhaling and exhaling or counting backwards from 100 can also help soothe symptoms of panic and anxiety.

Say, “Let’s breathe together. Close your eyes, and just try to focus on your breathing. Breathe in, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and breathe out, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.”

Describe calm, comfortable imagery. Try guiding your partner through positive visualizations to help put them at ease. Ask them to picture themselves in a comfortable place from their childhood, on a relaxing beach, or by a cozy fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa. Describe sensory details, such as the refreshing sea breeze or the soothing warmth of the fire.[19]
If they find visualizing calming scenery helps, ask them when they’re not experiencing symptoms to identify a few safe spaces. Bear in mind that scenery you find soothing might be triggering for them, so find out where they feel most comfortable.

Ask, “Tell me about some places where you feel most at ease. If I describe one for you during a panic attack or anxious state, maybe that’ll help you focus on being in that safe place.”

Do an activity together, such as writing, coloring, or listening to music. Pay attention to activities they enjoy, and suggest that you do one together. You could put on soothing music, draw or paint, meditate, or do yoga. Some people also find that writing down what they’re feeling helps get it out of their system.[20]
Again, it helps to know your partner and to have a discussion about helpful activities when they’re not experiencing a panic attack or an anxious state.

Don’t criticize them or minimize their anxious feelings. Avoid saying things like, “Just calm down,” “Relax and sit still,” or “There’s nothing wrong with you, so stop.” Try to understand that a panic attack or anxious state can feel insurmountable and terrifying. They’re experiencing real symptoms of an illness, and scolding them will just make things worse.[21]
Instead, let them know that you’re there for them, and reassure them that you’ll get through it together.

Telling them to sit down might seem harmless, but sitting could actually make them feel more anxious. Adrenaline levels spike during an anxious state, and some people need to move around or pace. If your partner isn’t comfortable sitting, offer to go for a walk with them.

Encourage them to ride out an attack instead of avoiding triggers. While it’s a tough balancing act, treating anxiety disorders typically involves exposure to triggers. Try to challenge your partner, but be gentle. Tell them that sometimes experiencing anxiety is part of overcoming the disorder, and that you’ll be there to help them get through it.[22]
Suppose your partner experiences social anxiety. Instead of staying in the house in an effort to avoid panic attacks, they should try to gradually engage in social situations.

Going for a walk around a park or to the grocery store could the first steps. Then they could work their way up to dining out at a restaurant or going to a small party.

EditTips
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in the United States. Therapy, sometimes in combination with medication, is highly effective at managing anxiety disorders.[23]
Everyone experiences anxiety, but there’s a difference between being stressed and experiencing overwhelming panic or fear. Only a mental health professional can diagnose anxiety disorders, so avoid labeling someone who hasn’t received an accurate diagnosis.[24]
Sometimes, supporting a partner who has a mental illness is challenging. Don’t buy into the fear and stigma surrounding mental illness, but consider if you’re able and willing to fulfill their needs. If you’ve just started dating, ask yourself whether this person is right for you as you would in any relationship.[25]
EditReferences
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Today in History for 15th May 2019

Historical Events

1711 – Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism” is published anonymously
1817 – Ambonese uprising against Dutch authority (modern Indonesia), under Thomas Matulesia (aka Kapitan Pattimura)
1862 – Major Gen Benjamin F Butler issues order (New Orleans) that confederate women abusing union soldiers be treated as whores
1941 – British attack Halfaya-pass and Fort Capuzzo in Egypt and Libya
1948 – Australia scores 721 runs in one day v Essex, world record
2017 – 1st US prosecution under federal Hate Crimes Act of violence against transgender person, murder of Mercedes Williamson

More Historical Events »

Famous Birthdays

1773 – Clemens L Metternich, Austrian prince
1889 – Bessie Hillman, founder (Almalgamated Clothing Workers of America)
1912 – Alexis Nihon, Bahamas, wrestler (Olympics 1968)
1925 – Andrey Yakoulevich Eshpay, composer
1940 – Paul Rudd, actor (Conn Yankee in King Arthur’s Court), born in Boston, Massachusetts
1988 – Jessica Falkholt, Australian actress (Hope Morrison-Home and Away, born in Sydney, Australia (d. 2018)

More Famous Birthdays »

Famous Deaths

1622 – Peter Plancius, Flemish vicar/cartographer, dies at about 69
1986 – Elio de Angelis, Italian race car driver (b. 1958)
1988 – Andrew Duggan, American character actor (Secret War of Harry Frigg, Winds of War), dies of cancer at 64
2003 – George Francis, British gangster (b. 1940)
2007 – Yolanda King, American actress and activist, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. (b. 1955)
2014 – Jean-Luc Dehaene, Belgian Prime Minister (1992-99), dies from a fall at 73

More Famous Deaths »

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How to Transform Your Body

Transforming your body helps you live a healthier life and get fit. When you want to change how you look and get healthier, all it takes is adjusting your daily exercise and eating habits. To know how many calories you need to have or burn each day, you first need to find your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Make sure you have an achievable goal when you start your routines so you’re set to succeed. When you’re finished, your body will look trim and you’ll feel stronger!

EditSteps
EditSetting a Goal
Make a specific and attainable goal for what you want to accomplish. When you start thinking about transforming your body, make sure to specify the end goal of your fitness routine. Choose whether your goal is to lose a specific amount of weight or to gain a certain percentage of muscle. Write the goal down so you’re more likely to stick to it.[1]
For example, your goal may be to lose or gain 5% muscle mass.

Talk to your doctor about your weight loss goals to see if they have any comments or concerns.

Different goals, such as running a marathon or powerlifting, require different body types and training strategies. Make sure you have smaller goals that work toward what you want to achieve overall.

Give yourself a reasonable deadline to reach your goals. Transforming your body can take some time to fully achieve, so set short and long term goals for yourself. As long as you work hard, you can usually burn of fat or gain of muscle per week.[2] Set your timeframe to follow how many pounds you can burn each week.[3]
For example, if you wanted to lose , you can set your goal between 5-10 weeks. If you wanted to gain of muscle, set your time frame for 6-12 weeks.

Gaining muscles mass is easier when you first start training, but becomes more difficult over time.

Your age and body type can affect how fast your muscles develop while you’re training. People who are younger can develop muscles faster than someone in their 40s or 50s. total, then work toward losing at a time.}}

Keep a food diary to track your meals and caloric intake. Write down everything you eat for each meal throughout the week. Don’t forget to include any snacks or drinks you have. When the week is finished, look up how many calories you had for the week so you know your average daily intake.[4]
Make sure to write down specific portion sizes to see where you’re overeating.

Many apps are available to help you track your daily intake and nutrition.

Use a fitness app to hold you accountable for your goals. Many phone apps let you track your goals and send reminders to help you achieve them. Download a few apps to try and put in how much weight you’d like to lose. Use the app to track your diet, log your workouts, and see how close you are to your goal.[5]
Some free apps that you can try are MyFitnessPal, Fitbit, and Lose It!

Calculate your BMR to know how many calories you need each day. Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the number of calories your body burns on its own in order to function. Measure your height in inches and your weight in pounds and use an online calculator to find your BMR. If you want to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your BMR, but if you want to gain muscle, you need to eat slightly more than your BMR.[6]
You can calculate your BMR with an online calculator here: http://www.bmrcalculator.org/.

Your BMR is also affected by how active you are during the day.

BMR readings can be inaccurate since they’re based on just your height and weight and don’t take your bone structure into account.

EditWorking to Lose Weight
Eat 500 fewer calories than your BMR each day to lose weight. The only way to lose weight and burn fat is to eat fewer calories than you use every day. Instead of having 3 large meals throughout the day, try intermittent fasting to help curb your hunger and control your caloric intake. Choose a 12-16 hour period of time each day where you don’t eat, such as overnight between 8 PM and 8 AM the next day.[7]
For example, if your BMR is 2,000 calories, then aim to eat about 1,500 calories each day.

Use a calorie-counting app to help determine what you can eat each day.

Avoid overeating by only consuming the portion sizes listed on the food’s packaging.

Choose foods high in unsaturated fat and protein. Incorporate good sources of lean protein into your diet, such as tofu, beans, chicken, eggs, and fish. Avoid using butter or other saturated fats in your diet. Instead, have nuts, avocado, and olive oil to help keep your meals healthy.[8]
If you enjoy eating butter, you might replace it with vegetable oil butter.

Avoid processed snacks or fast food since they may have hidden sugars and fats. Look at the nutrition labels on all the foods you buy to see if they are good for you.

Look for lean recipes online or through weight-loss apps.

Reduce the number of simple carbs you eat. Simple carbs include white bread, white rice, and baked goods like cookies. Simple carbs are easier for a body to break down and contain simple sugars that can make you gain weight. Instead, try whole grain bread, brown rice, oatmeal, or quinoa with your meal to help your body feel less hungry over time.[9]
Vegetables and fruit are also great sources of complex carbs.

Cut sugar from your diet. The sugars in sweets can turn into fat over time, so it’s best to cut them out as much as possible while you’re losing weight. If you feel a craving for sugar, try having a piece of fruit instead. Once you cut sugar out of your diet, you’ll start seeing results quickly.[10]
Avoid sugary drinks, like sodas and fruit juices, and replace them with water instead.

Opt for fresh fruit and vegetables. Vegetables and fruits contain natural sugars and complex carbs, which make a healthy alternative to sweets. When you have breakfast, eat a piece of fruit, like an apple or banana, to start your day off. Try incorporating more nutritious vegetables, such as spinach, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, into the rest of your meals.[11]
Avoid drinking fruit juices since they’re sugary and don’t have the same nutrients as eating a piece of fruit.

Bring a piece of fruit with you as a snack to avoid buying any junk food.

If you get easily tempted by snack foods in vending machines, don’t bring any cash with you to use on them.

Drink water every day. Stay hydrated throughout the day to keep your body functioning properly and to get rid of excess sodium in your body. When you’re hydrated, you’ll feel more energetic and less hungry if you’re having a craving. Make sure to drink water each day to keep your body healthy.[12]
Make sure to drink water during and after an intense workout when you’re sweating.

Start weight training at least 3 times a week. While lifting weight adds muscle mass and may make you heavier, lean muscle burns more calories while you’re resting. Start with lighter weights and a high rep count to strengthen your connective tissues so you can safely build and tone your muscles. Weight train every other day and target a different muscle group each time.[13]
Once you start feeling comfortable with the weight or number of reps you do, try increasing the weight or doing more reps for each set.

Spread your workouts throughout the week rather than doing them over consecutive days. Leave at least 1 day between each of your weight training workouts.

Do cardio routines 5-6 times each week. Cardio workouts help burn calories and keep your heart healthy. Include exercises such as running, jumping rope, and swimming. On most days of the week, aim to do a 30-45 minute cardio workout to burn fat.[14]
Set aside 1 rest day during the week so your body has time to relax.

Use cardio as a short warm-up to a heavier workout, such as a 10-minute jog before a weightlifting routine.

Try interval training workouts to burn calories fast. High-intensity interval training increases your calorie burn by alternating between high intensity bursts and recovery periods. For instance, after warming up, you might sprint for 1 minute, then walk for 2 minutes, repeating for a full 20-minute workout. This type of workout can help your body continue to burn fat for the next 24 hours.[15]
Make sure your body is warmed up before you start interval training or else you could stress or damage your muscles. Additionally, cool down after your workout to slowly bring down your heart rate.

EditBuilding and Toning Muscle
Consume up to 500 more calories than your BMR daily to build muscles. Muscle growth requires a surplus of up to 500 calories each day or else your workouts won’t help you gain muscle mass. Only eat a small surplus of calories or else you could start gaining body fat. Track how many calories you eat using a phone app or a food diary.[16]
If you’re overweight and want to build muscle, aim to eat fewer calories to lose weight first.

You may want to slowly increase your calories so you can figure out how many you need to eat to get the results you want. If you eat too many added calories, you’ll gain fat.

Eat 0.8 g of protein for every of body weight. Protein is an important part of your diet since it helps build lean muscles. Eat foods like chicken, fish, yogurt, and beans to help reach your daily protein goal. Eat the protein soon after you complete a workout to get the best benefits.[17]
For example, if you weigh , then you should consume 120 g of protein daily.

Enjoy complex carbs rather than simple ones. Simple carbs, such as white bread and baked goods, are easy for your body to break down so they don’t give you many benefits. Instead, try eating whole grain bread, brown rice, and quinoa that are more complex. These take time for your body to break down, so they’re more satisfying.[18]
You can also find complex carbs in many types of fruits and vegetables, like cauliflower and spinach.

Avoid or cut back on alcohol because it has calories with little nutritional benefits. Additionally, it can slow your metabolism, impair your judgement, and lower your self-control.

Perform strength training exercises 3-4 times per week. Plan workout sessions that are between 30-45 minutes long, focusing on your upper body one day and your lower body the next. Do your strength training exercises every other day so your muscles have a chance to rest and relax.[19]
Make sure to use a weight you’re comfortable with when you’re lifting. The weight should be low enough where you can finish all of your reps but high enough so it’s challenging.

Increase the weight and number of reps when you start feeling comfortable with your routine.

Choose exercise routines to target specific muscle groups. Each day you do strength training, select a different muscle group to focus on during your workout. This prevents certain muscles from getting overly fatigued and strengthens your entire body. When you finish a workout, make sure to stretch the muscles you used to prevent tightness and increase flexibility.[20]
For exercising your legs, try doing barbell squats, leg presses, and deadlifts.[21]
To work out your chest and back, practice dumbbell rows, pull ups, and lateral raises.[22]
If you want to focus on your core muscles, practice sit-ups, Russian twists, and wood chops.[23]

Do cardio exercises 5-6 times per week. Do cardio sessions most days to burn fat and stay toned. Try going for a jog, running on a treadmill, or riding a bike to burn calories and develop healthy habits. Aim to do 30-40 minute cardio sessions each time you work out.[24]
Give yourself at least 1 rest day each week so you give your body time to recuperate.

It’s safe to do cardio and strength training workouts on the same day.

Join a fitness class to follow along with group routines. Many recreational centers offer fitness classes that you can join. Look for a class you’re interested in, such as Zumba, CrossFit, or kickboxing, and see if they have a free class session that you can try. Once you find one you like, join the class so you can be around other people and have fun working out![25]
If you don’t want to join a class, you may be able to find similar workout routines online.

Practice yoga to help tone your body. Yoga is a great way to help you stay flexible and builds your muscle endurance. Start with a 15-30 minute routine of simple poses so you get used to the positions. When you start feeling comfortable with the poses, incorporate more difficult ones into your routine.[26]
Watch videos online to follow along with a virtual instructor.

EditTips
Maintain your healthy routine to keep your body in shape.

EditWarnings
Consult with your doctor before setting any large weight loss goals to see if they have any concerns.

EditReferences
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