Anxiety does not have to rule your romantic relationships. Here’s how to get free.

Whew, this week was a doozy. I recovered from a nasty cold, attended the Women’s March in Baltimore, and went through a few days of intense anxiety around the man I’ve been dating.

I came up against some fear around this man and wanted to break things off with him. We had an honest conversation about our feelings, then didn’t talk for three days, as we both knew I needed space to figure out what I wanted.

Those three days were intense. I experienced the same overwhelming, suffocating, gnawing anxiety I experienced in past relationships (and in other situations in which I had to make a decision of some kind, like decisions around The Happy College Girl). I was so uncomfortable and scared that my anxiety wouldn’t go away. I was worried that I was screwing up this guy’s life and that I would never feel calm and content in a relationship.

Then I made a decision. I decided that I would NOT let my anxiety rule this area of my life. I knew that other people–my friends, colleagues, favorite authors and bloggers–experienced fear in their relationships, overcame their fear, and now relate to that area of their lives in a calm, productive way where they actually get their needs met. I KNEW that there was another way to handle my relationship and I had the tools to do it.

So I worked those tools like a full-time job. Here’s what I did.

1. Prayed a ton. When I woke up in the morning, throughout the day, and before bed, I prayed, “Thank you for showing me how to see this situation with love.” And, “I choose to see this situation with love.” These simple prayers helped me surrender my fear and anxiety around my relationship, and reminded me that there is another way to handle this area of my life. Anxiety isn’t the only option; there is help from God/the Universe/something greater than me.

2. Meditated. When I’m in that anxious, on-edge state, it’s hard for me to sit still and get quiet because my thoughts are so anxious that they make me really uncomfortable. But I pushed myself to use guided meditations from Gabrielle Bernstein that helped me acknowledge and surrender my feelings. Mediating actually gave me some space from my anxious, whirring thoughts, so that I could think more clearly about what I wanted in my romantic life.

3. Moved my body. It’s so easy for me to stay in bed or stay in the house when I’m anxious. But isolating myself and not moving just makes the anxiety worse. I took a few walks, did some Youtube workouts, and stretched. After moving, I felt stronger, lighter, and more connected to myself.

4. Listened to uplifting podcasts, books, etc. During my walks and while driving, I listened to helpful podcasts, audio books, and coaching calls. This content reinforced principles about having fearless relationships and communicating with others. After listening, I felt more equipped, and like it was actually possible for me, to handle my own romantic life with calm power.

5. Talk to people who you trust and who have what you want. When I’m super anxious, I tend to talk to anyone who will listen, mainly because my anxiety is all I can think about, so whenever I’m with someone, it spills out of my mouth. But this time around, I only talked to a couple of people who view relationships in the way I want to view relationships, and who know my personal fears and patterns when it comes to dating. They gave me support and helped me work through my stuff.

6. Kept working. Being in that intense, anxious place makes me want to stay in bed all day and ignore my work. But I refused to do that this time. I knew that doing something productive, like work, gives my mind something else to focus on. And that stuff has to get done anyway, so putting it off would only make me more anxious. Even though I was anxious and nauseous throughout my work days, I kept at it. Whenever I felt a wave of anxiety, I took a breath, said my prayer, and refocused my attention on the task at hand.

And you know what? All of those things worked! By about the third day, I felt much calmer and lighter. I even had a few moments of fun and laughter. In that space, I was able to make a good decision about how to handle my relationship. And even though I’m still uncertain about how things will go, I feel strong moving forward and confident that I can handle whatever happens. Miraculous!

I’m sharing this very personal story with you because I want you to know that anxiety does not have to rule any area of your life. These tools will work for you too. When you use them, you will see results, i.e. less anxiety and better ability to make decisions. I promise!