Embarking on a path to greater independence can be hard for many—especially if they may be experiencing the symptoms of separation anxiety.
This emotional hurdle, often characterized by distress and worry when one is away from a loved one, could impact daily routines, relationships and personal growth. Understanding the possible root causes, identifying symptoms and exploring practical coping techniques can help you on your journey toward emotional resilience and independence.
Read on to learn more about management of separation anxiety.
Understanding Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety, which can be a natural part of human development for many, generally occurs when you feel apprehensive about being away from someone or something you are attached to—such as a caregiver, family member or pet.
While commonly associated with young children, it might also manifest in adolescents and adults. It can become problematic, however, when anxiety-related symptoms become excessive or persistent, possibly interfering with daily life and hindering personal growth.
Online therapy and other supportive strategies can be helpful for many in resolving symptoms.
Factors Contributing To Separation Anxiety
Many factors could contribute to the development of separation anxiety. Some common factors to consider can include genetic predisposition, one’s temperament and past experiences such as trauma or loss.
Additionally, one might consider possible contributing environmental factors—such as overprotective parenting or lack of a support system.
Understanding the possible underlying causes of separation anxiety can empower someone living with the condition to develop appropriate coping strategies and interventions that can help on an individual basis. It may also lead to a more empathetic society as a whole.
Recognizing The Signs Of Separation Anxiety
Identifying the symptoms of the condition can be a helpful step in addressing separation anxiety effectively. Some common signs to watch for can include:
- Excessive worry about being away from a loved one
- Reluctance to engage in activities or attend events without the attachment figure
- Distress when anticipating separation
- Sleep disturbances, such as nightmares or insomnia
- Physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches or dizziness
Recognizing these signs ahead of time can empower one to take appropriate steps to manage and overcome separation anxiety.
Coping Strategies: Overcoming Separation Anxiety
Various strategies could prove helpful as one works to overcome separation anxiety. Some common techniques include:
Establishment Of A Routine
Creating a predictable routine may alleviate some of the stress associated with separation. This can look different for many and might involve tasks such as setting consistent times for waking up, bed and mealtimes. Planning regular activities, such as exercise, hobbies, or social outings, could also be helpful.
Additionally, designating specific times for spending with the attachment figure might provide a sense of stability and reassurance for the person experiencing symptoms, giving them assurance that the distance may only be temporary.
Gradual exposure to absence generally allows someone to slowly build a tolerance to separation, potentially reducing the intensity of anxiety and related symptoms over time.
Some tips for implementing gradual exposure can include starting with short separations and progressively increasing the duration. Gradually increasing the amount of time spent apart from the attachment figure might help to reduce anxiety and related symptoms, as opposed to removing the figure abruptly.
Trying new activities or locations could also be helpful in gradually expanding one’s comfort zone.
Encouraging independence and self-reliance during these activities might further promote a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
Building a strong support network can be helpful in overcoming separation anxiety. This may involve connecting with friends, family members or colleagues who can understand and empathize with the situation.
Self-Care And Relaxation Techniques
Incorporating self-care and relaxation techniques into one’s daily life could help to manage symptoms of separation anxiety more effectively.
Some examples of relaxation techniques to try can include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation and guided imagery. These techniques might assist in reducing overall stress levels, making it easier to cope with separation anxiety.
Other self-care practices, such as engaging in hobbies, getting regular exercise and maintaining a balanced diet, could also contribute to overall well-being and mental health. Prioritizing self-care can help one to feel more grounded and better equipped to handle the challenges of separation anxiety.
Communication And Emotional Expression
Open communication with loved ones and the attachment figure can be helpful in overcoming separation anxiety. Encouraging honest conversations about feelings and concerns can also foster a deeper understanding of the situation and create an environment where one feel supported and validated—possibly facilitating a higher level of healing.
Benefits Of Online Therapy
Online therapy can be a helpful first step for many as they begin to overcome separation anxiety.
Online therapy generally offers one the opportunity to go through the therapeutic process, offering valuable insights into the possible factors that could be contributing to separation anxiety. This can empower survivors to address the root cause(s) more effectively. The virtual environment of online therapy can allow many more to reach a higher quality of life, possibly removing the nervousness and barriers that can be associated with in-person treatment.
By using online therapy to address symptoms of separation anxiety effectively, one can become more self-aware and develop the emotional intelligence necessary to navigate possible situations involving separation.
Effectiveness Of Online Therapy
A study showed that psychodynamic therapy might be an effective treatment for separation anxiety in adults who have not responded to traditional treatments, which science suggests can be done quite effectively through digital and online formats.
The participants reviewed in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry showed significant improvement on measures of global severity, current separation anxiety, and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale at the end of the 12-week intervention.
Furthermore, the results indicated a possible link between oxytocin levels and therapeutic outcomes, suggesting its potential usage as a biomarker or mediator of SA response. These findings suggest that targeting attachment issues with psychotherapy could be a promising avenue for treating those suffering from SA.
Through therapy, self-care practices, relaxation techniques, open communication and emotional expression, you can gain insight into the underlying causes of your separation anxiety while cultivating resilience and emotional growth. Embracing the journey could present opportunities for personal development that will serve you well beyond these challenging times. BetterHelp can connect you with an online therapist in your area of need.
How do you self-soothe separation anxiety?
Incorporating relaxation techniques and self-care into your daily life can help you manage symptoms of separation anxiety when they appear. By making these things a part of your regular routine, they can become comfortable rituals that you can turn to when you need to self-soothe separation anxiety. Some things you can try might include taking a warm bubble bath, establishing a regular exercise routine, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. You may also try relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises, grounding techniques, or meditation.
How can you deal with separation anxiety?
In addition to relaxation techniques and self-care exercises mentioned above, establishing a routine can help you counter some of the stress that comes from separation. A predictable routine can help you feel like you have control over something. This type of planning could look different for everyone. Some people may plan specific times for waking up, going to bed, or eating meals, while others may plan times and days for regular activities, like hobbies, visiting friends, or exercising. You may also want to schedule times for spending with the person you’re attached to, which may help you get a sense of security and reassurance while you are apart.
Gradually exposing yourself to time away from the attachment figure may help you build a tolerance to separation, which may help reduce anxiety symptoms over time. Starting with short durations and progressively increasing them can be easier to handle than removing the figure abruptly and completely.
How does separation anxiety develop?
Separation anxiety is a normal part of development in children, usually emerging at or before 12 months and peaking between 9 and 18 months. In most cases, typical separation anxiety phases out in 2.5 years.
Separation anxiety in adults is a little different. It can develop as a response to various stressful life events, like the loss of a loved one, significant life changes, being raised by strict parents, or having an anxiety disorder as a child.
How do I deal with anxiety being away from home?
Dealing with anxiety when you’re away from home can be challenging because not only are you not around the people you love, but you’re also away from your home environment. If you’re anxious when traveling away from home, it can help to have someone you trust to stay at your house or check in on it occasionally. They can get the mail, water your plants, pet sit, or generally check the property to ensure everything is okay.
You can also try self-soothing techniques and self-care practices to cope with the symptoms of your anxiety while you’re away. Meditation, deep breathing exercises, grounding exercises, and regular exercise routines can help.
If you find it hard to leave your home or if you get extreme anxiety while traveling, talking to a mental health professional to learn what factors are underlying these feelings and how to cope with them can help.
How do I deal with being apart from my partner?
If you find it challenging to be away from your partner, you may be tempted to call or text frequently, but spending too much time worrying about keeping in touch can be counterproductive because you will have less mental energy to expend on yourself. Check in a few times during the day, but try to go about your life and pay attention to what is happening around you.
Separation anxiety can appear after significant life changes when you may feel like you’re losing the connection with your partner. In this case, try to schedule time to connect with one another every day. For example, you can commit to having dinner together after you both get home from work or block out every Saturday to do something together. Not only will this give you quality time together, but it can also be reassuring to know when you’re going to see your partner again.
Taking care of your physical and mental needs can help improve your mood, which, in turn, can help you manage your anxiety better. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, establish a good exercise routine, and get enough sleep so you feel your best.
How do you deal with emotions during separation anxiety?
Open communication can help deal with the emotions of separation anxiety. Talking about how you feel with a friend or family member, the attachment figure, or a therapist can help you feel understood and validated, which can help you move past your anxiety.
Why do I get anxious when my partner leaves?
There may be many reasons why you get anxious when your partner leaves. It could be something as simple as your partner being gone disrupts your routing, which increases your stress. Your childhood attachment style can be a part of it. For example, if you have an anxious-avoidant attachment style, you may be insecure about the relationship and worry that your partner will leave you for good or not come back when they are away. You may have drama from a previous relationship that you are bringing into your current one, bringing up trust issues, or you may be too dependent on your partner.
Will anxiety go away eventually?
Day-to-day anxiety can resolve on its own once whatever is triggering that anxiety goes away, but anxiety disorders like separation anxiety with moderate to severe symptoms are unlikely to go away without some kind of treatment. The primary treatments for separation anxiety are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and CBT in conjunction with serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
How do I deal with my husband’s separation anxiety?
If your spouse has separation anxiety, it can be challenging to deal with, but there are some ways that you can offer support that may help alleviate their symptoms. Try to communicate openly and honestly, and support your partner when they want to make plans by committing to them. For example, if you and your spouse have a standing date night every Friday, try your best to be there every Friday.
If your spouse has a lot of anxiety and is having a hard time coping with the symptoms, let them know that you’re there and you support them. Don’t try to fix them, but remind them that you love them and ask how to help. If the problems are more than you can manage or need more support, consider going to couples therapy to talk about your issues with an objective professional and learn coping skills for handling the challenges in your relationship.
How do you deal with separation anxiety at night?
Coping with anxiety at night is important because getting enough sleep can be essential to good mental health. If you’re having trouble sleeping in the bed you share with your partner when you’re apart for a night, try changing your sleep location. For example, you may move to the couch or the guest room. Write in a journal to get anxious thoughts down on paper. Doing so can help your mind shift focus from what makes it anxious and allows you to vent your frustrations safely. You can also download and use a relaxation app or listen to a relaxing podcast,audiobookk, or white noise to help distract you so you can fall asleep.
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