Managing high-functioning anxiety can feel like a challenge. In fact, it might feel like one more annoying thing on your already-too-long to do list.
If you have this type of anxiety, then you might be able to power through the difficulties for years.
However, just because you’re getting by, doesn’t mean you’re living your best life. In contrast, life is far harder than it needs to be. And you might not even realize it because you’re using all of your energy just to get through each day.
Although it can sound like a chore, managing high-functioning anxiety actually means that you lighten your load.
What Is High-Functioning Anxiety?
If you struggle with anxiety, but you don’t meet all of the criteria for an anxiety disorder, then you might have high-functioning anxiety.
One of the primary criteria for anxiety (and other mental health disorders) is that it significantly impacts your functionality in one or more areas of life. It’s not easy to see this in people who have high-functioning anxiety, which is the main reason that people don’t qualify for – or even seek out – an official diagnosis.
That lack of diagnosis isn’t necessarily a good thing, though. Sure, you look fine on the outside. In fact, your anxiety propels you towards perfectionism, so you may actually look really awesome from the outside. You are successful. Everyone else thinks that you’re on top of things. You function well. But you do so at the cost of feeling well, which is why managing high-functioning anxiety is so important.
7 Tips for Managing High-Functioning Anxiety
You might feel like if you stop being so anxious, then you will also stop succeeding. But that’s not true.
Managing high-functioning anxiety will make you happier and more fulfilled. And you won’t have to sacrifice your success.
Here are seven tips to move forward in a healthier way:
1. Educate Yourself
You are a smart person. For you, knowledge is power. Therefore, the more that you know about anxiety, the better equipped you will be to manage it.
Educate yourself about anxiety in general and about high-functioning anxiety in particular. If you understand the symptoms and behaviors, you’ll be able to deal with them in a more effective way.
2. Accept Things as They Are
If you have anxiety, then you might want to try to control everything. However, anxiety is tricky. The more you give in to anxious thoughts, the more anxiety creeps into your life.
Learn to recognize when anxiety is driving your thoughts. Then, practice mindfulness. Consider whether you can grow the capacity to accept the anxiety for what it is. It doesn’t have to drive you.
3. Open Up
People with high-functioning anxiety often keep their mental health challenges a secret. After all, you look so good on the outside. Why would you compromise that?
The problem is that you constantly feel like you’re going to be exposed for the anxious, messy person that you really are. When you begin to open up about what’s really going on inside, the pressure lessens, and you start to heal.
Of course, you don’t have to spill your fears to everyone you meet. Choose loved ones, acquaintances, or even a support group that allow you to open up in a safe way.
4. Aim for Balance in Life
If you’re dealing with high-functioning anxiety, then you might be the type of person who scoffs at work-life balance. You err on the side of work and success at the expense of self-care and personal relationships. You’re always trying to keep up that facade of perfection.
Coping with anxiety starts with finding some balance. Make time for friends, hobbies, exercise, and just plain old downtime. Of course, as things get quiet, the anxious thoughts may rear their ugly heads. But you’re a warrior. You can slay them. It will be okay, even though it’s scary.
5. Get into Your Body
Anxiety is mostly thoughts in your head. Your body has a physical reaction, but chances are that you don’t even really notice it because you’re so focused on chasing those thoughts. Sure, you know that you get migraines or have constant backaches, but you don’t really pay attention to them until they get debilitating.
Stop that. Give yourself permission to notice how you are feeling physically. Start getting back into your body. Grounding yourself in your core helps you get out of your head. Plus, as you start noticing the physical effects of anxiety, you’ll see how important it is to get a grip on the condition.
6. Switch to Positive Self-Talk
Try to listen to all of the things that you say to yourself throughout the day. Chances are that most of them are negative or downright mean. If you wouldn’t say those words to your sister or your best friend, then don’t say them to yourself.
See whether you can introduce a new voice, or encourage the quieter one that is already there, who gentle and kind. Use mantras and affirmations, if they resonate with you. Move away from the "always/never" language to a grey area. The words you use matter, even if they’re only in your head.
7. Celebrate Your Small Successes
People who have high-functioning anxiety are perfectionists. Nothing ever feels good enough. That’s a mindset you’ve got to get away from. It’s important to be gentle with yourself about failures.
This starts by celebrating the smallest successes. Give yourself gold stars every time you make a step towards managing high-functioning anxiety.
You may already function well despite anxiety. However, you might not be living your best life. Anxiety therapy can help. Feel free to contact me and find out how I can help you with managing anxiety.