Separation anxiety is a condition that can make it hard to separate from loved ones and can lead to feelings of intense despair, dread and helplessness. Those who suffer from it may struggle to make connections and cope with the absence of loved ones in their lives. But there are ways to learn to manage and overcome separation anxiety. With appropriate treatment and care, we can proactively address our anxieties in order to build relationships and empower ourselves in the midst of our struggles.
Navigating the Emotional Toll of Separation Anxiety
Separation anxiety can become an immense burden. It’s important to recognize that such emotions are normal and can be worked through to bring comfort and progress. Learning to navigate our feelings with patience and care can allow us to confront the experience head-on, breaking through walls of fear and beginning to manage the feelings that prevent us from connecting with others. To start, try to recognize the development of fear, taking note of its onset and the moments of panic that can arise. Acknowledge the sensations, identifying them as unique to the individual. Understanding our emotions can lead to healthier and better-managed responses. This in turn can help us to separate our emotions from those of those around us and make rational decisions. It’s also essential to remember that while anxiety can make us feel overwhelmed and helpless, we are not powerless and there is indeed help available. Separation anxiety can be difficult to understand and may feel like a personal obstacle, but calling out for help is an important step in overcoming it.
Taking advantage of professional help
It’s ok to reach out for professional help. Training in strategies useful for managing our anxieties can be crucial for soothing those anxious feelings. Counselling can help to build resilience and give the individual tools to combat the emotions of separation anxiety. Counselors can help an individual develop and put into practice skills that can help manage their anxieties and fears. In addition, group therapies can help individuals to seek support from those who understand their struggles and have an understanding of what it’s like to wrestle through the same issues.
Making use of medications
For some, medications can provide essential relief. While the exact cause of separation anxiety remains a mystery, prescribing medications like SSRIs or benzodiazepines can help recover the levels of certain hormones—namely serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline— in order to reduce the feeling of fear and dread.
Identifying the Triggers of Separation Anxiety
Identifying the triggers of separation anxiety is an important step in understanding the condition and how it affects us. Common triggers include but are not limited to:
- Fear of rejection or abandonment
- Fear of failure
- Changes in relationships or living situations
- Sudden loss of a loved one
- Past traumatic experiences
The fear or anticipation of being without the emotional support of someone close, or of being away from the familiarity of home, can manifest itself in the form of anxiety. To address our fears, it’s essential to identify their sources and come to understand how our emotional responses may be related. It’s important to remember that progress doesn’t have to come in large strides—small successes can have a major impact on our emotional well-being. Finding ways to recognize our thoughts and feelings can help to put them into perspective.
Practicing Self-Care to Foster Resilience
Practicing self-care can be a form of self-compassion that helps to reduce feelings of separation anxiety. Through self-care and meaningful activities, our bodies and minds can shift from ruminating thoughts of distress to a healthier outlook of positivity.
Mindfulness can help to identify and break apart contrasting thoughts and emotions. Through mindfulness, meditative and controlled breathing exercises, or yoga, it’s possible to foster resilience by developing peace and calm within one’s self.
Regulate and manage sleeping habits
The timing of sleep and the quantity and quality of sleep can have a major effect on how separation anxiety manifests itself. Making sure to stay on a consistent sleep schedule and to get the appropriate amount of rest can help to reduce the levels of distress and reduce the impact of separation anxiety.
Engage in creative activities
Engaging in creative activities such as painting, writing, or music can work to create a safe space where our anxieties can be freely expressed. By focusing on the task at hand and focusing on our creative output, writing can also serve as a real way to identify our dissatisfactions with the current state of our lives.
Feasting on healthy foods—foods we enjoy and that provide rich nutrition—can help build the resilience necessary for overcoming our anxieties. Eating regular meals and avoiding overfeeding can help to regulate our body’s metabolism and supply us with the energy and sustenance needed to move forward.
Expanding Comfort with Positive Discomfort
One can expand comfort by pushing through the discomfort of transition and of pushing through anxiety.
Accept the discomfort
It’s important to accept that it’s ok to feel discomfort and to give yourself permission to pause when necessary to find a comfortable place to work through it.
Visualizing success is another way to proactively deal with the feelings of apprehension that can accompany separation anxiety. Creating mental images of successful outcomes can work to reduce the fear of failure and open our minds to the possibilities that other forms of progress can bring.
Engage in positive self-talk
Engaging in positive self-talk can help to build comfort and transform the dialogue in our minds from pessimistic to optimistic. Through this, it’s possible to gradually challenge our notions of what’s possible and help to reduce feelings of isolation.
Building Positive Connections for Positive Change
In the effort of managing separation anxiety, it’s important to build positive connections by engaging in socially stimulating activities. By surrounding ourselves with meaningful people, activities and situations, it’s possible to create a positive atmosphere that can make a large impact on how we experience life.
Reach out to supportive people
It’s important to reach out and build relationships with supportive people that can help to provide the grounding necessary for overcoming our anxieties. This can take place in person or online, by establishing meaningful connections with people who understand the emotional toll of separation anxiety.
Find hobbies and activities that you enjoy
Engaging in hobbies and activities that bring us joy and fulfillment can play a major role in reducing our feelings of separation and loneliness. Not only does this provide support and a sense of purpose, it can help to reduce all-consuming thoughts of distress.
Reduce the use of social media
It’s also important to reduce the use of social media, TV and other related screens. Too much screen time can negatively affect our relationships and our sleep quality. By decreasing screen time, and focusing on unplugged activities, we can begin to focus on fulfilling activities and positive relationships that can provide comfort and connection.
Our Response is Right: Learning to Overcome Separation Anxiety
Learning to overcome separation anxiety can be an emotional journey that requires patience and consistency. But with support and the right approach, it’s possible to identify triggers and learn to navigate our feelings in order to develop resilience. Through self-care, mindful activities and positive connections, it’s possible to create a safe and comfortable space to address our anxieties and begin to build and nurture more meaningful relationships in our lives.
Separation anxiety is a difficult but manageable condition, and with the right guidance and support it’s possible to proactively address our anxieties and work towards developing healthy relationships with those around us. By embracing the occasional discomfort, challenging negative perceptions of ourselves, and finding joy in meaningful activities, we can work to overcome separation anxiety and live our lives to the fullest.