Is this just “normal” stress?
You first noticed it when trying to enjoy what should have been a delicious, chewy baguette, but the fatigue and pain in the muscles of your jaw that made you barely able to chew were a surprise. “Have I been clenching my teeth?”…you wonder. Your partner gets frustrated with you because you won’t ever just sit with them and be present, let alone relax. Even when you try, you are mentally barraged by a list of must-dos and jump up to just quickly get at least one of them done before you forget, justifying this to yourself as necessary so you can be “free” to finally relax. But, finally never seems to come. The list just keeps growing. It is exhausting, but people often express admiration for how much you accomplish…if only they knew about your sleepless nights.
This is high-functioning anxiety. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
“This can’t be anxiety,” you scoff, “this is my drive, my ambition, my go-getter personality! This is how I get everything done! If I don’t keep all of these plates spinning, everything will come crashing down! I’m anxious that it will be a disaster!…oh, wait, maybe this is anxiety. But how can I possibly prevent a catastrophe or at least keep the ship upright if I actually slow down enough to address this?”
My clients with high-functioning anxiety have learned through their work with me that addressing the underlying anxiety actually frees them up to be even more effective in getting everything done, including time to relax and connect with other people, because they are not utterly exhausted by the exercise of a constantly spinning mind. I help my clients begin to recognize the anxiety as it is happening, understand what drives it, and learn that they don’t always have to respond to the anxiety…in fact, if they don’t respond to it, and make conscious choices in their best interests about their actions instead, the anxiety often subsides.
You can be the one in charge of your anxiety.
You’ve heard the old addage, “Don’t work harder, work smarter.” The same is true for high-functioning anxiety. Learning to manage your anxiety can both make you more efficient and effective and give you the space and capacity to enjoy more of your life.