Are you the type of person who always feels antsy, on edge, and unable to relax? Do you think of yourself as an anxious person? You may be the type of person who always seems to have it together. You’re driven to be successful in work and life.
But underneath it all, you don’t feel as put together as others perceive you to be. In fact, you live with an underlying sense of fear of disappointing others or yourself.
If this sounds familiar, there’s a chance you’re living with high functioning anxiety. Fortunately, as with other types of anxiety, this is something that can be addressed. You don’t have to live like this forever.
What Is High Functioning Anxiety?
There are a variety of anxiety disorders. They include GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), PTSD, phobias, and OCD. High functioning anxiety is sometimes compared to GAD, although they are not the same.
As mentioned, to most people, those with high functioning anxiety do not appear to have anxiety issues. Rather, they appear to be successful, high functioning individuals. But in reality, this success comes at a real personal cost.
When you are driven by anxiety, it controls you. You’ll be organized, the type of person who always plans ahead, and who never says no to a project. High functioning anxiety can turn you into a people pleaser, a self-doubter, and limit your life.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
As with many anxiety disorders, an important coping skill is to learn to challenge your negative thoughts. As someone who’s driven by your anxiety to perform, you probably have a loud inner critic. This voice likes to tell you lies. The problem is that these thoughts have been so loud that you haven’t been able to acknowledge them as being untrue.
When a negative thought comes up, reframe it and talk back to it with reality. Look for other possibilities—positive ones—and not what this voice tells you.
Acknowledge the Good
People who live with anxiety tend to be blind to the good about themselves. Even though you suffer from anxiety, this does not make you an inferior human. There are many good things about you and about your personality.
Make a list of these. Acknowledge your positive traits. Post your list where you can review it; practice repeating it to yourself in response to critical, negative thoughts.
Slowly Expand Your Comfort Zones
Living with high functioning anxiety can mean that you keep yourself confined to a narrow world. You are afraid to try something new or switch up your schedule because you’re afraid you’ll fail. You don’t want to embarrass yourself.
But it’s likely that there are other things you want to do. Maybe it’s meeting more people or changing jobs. Maybe you want to travel but are afraid to ask for time off work.
If this sounds familiar, identify some small ways you can begin to branch out. As you build on those successes, you’ll be empowered to take bigger steps.
Humans are often empowered to cope best when they make sure they’re tending to their physical needs. This includes healthy sleep habits, nutritional eating, and exercise. The biological, neurological, and emotional systems of your body are closely intertwined.
What happens in one affects the other. It may amaze you at how regular exercise, enough sleep, and reduced junk food make you feel!
Living with high functioning anxiety isn’t fun. It can suck the life right out of you. Many people find great benefit from therapy. In therapy, I help people like yourself build coping methods and understand what’s contributing to their anxiety.