Everyone experiences anxiety every now and then and it can be difficult to figure out how to cope with high functioning anxiety.
It’s a perfectly normal part of life and it shows that you are invested in your everyday tasks and that you care about doing a good job.
But you should never feel like your anxiety is out of your control or that it plays a significant part in your decision making.
However, it’s important to realize that anxiety isn’t necessarily having crippling panic attacks or shutting yourself in your room.
In fact, anxiety can become a part of your daily life without you even realizing it.
This is called high functioning anxiety, and unfortunately, in our culture of high performance and striving to overachieve, this can become normalized.
Just because you can still perform your daily tasks and function fairly regularly doesn’t mean you should accept anxiety as a part of life.
Here are some pointers for how to cope with high functioning anxiety.
What Is High Functioning Anxiety?
As always, let’s start with a definition.
Before making any kind of decisions or judgements about your mental health, it is first important to stay informed.
And putting a name to your symptoms and grasping what you’re going through is an important and effective first step
A person with high functioning anxiety appears well-adjusted and put together to others but privately deals with high stress, worrying, and obsessive thoughts.
In other words, high functioning anxiety doesn’t necessarily interfere with your daily life, but it can certainly be a problem nonetheless.
Again, you don’t need to be in the middle of a serious emotional or mental crisis to be experiencing anxiety.
There is no need to undermine your daily struggles!
Symptoms of High Functioning Anxiety
Before figuring out how to cope with high functioning anxiety, it helps to understand the symptoms consistent with it.
We encourage you to first take a step back and reflect if any of these symptoms sound like you.
You feel like you crave others’ affection and approval, but this often comes at the cost of your personal boundaries.
You have difficulty saying no to friends or coworkers and neglect your own needs.
Putting other people’s needs before your wants is certainly a good trait and shows you are a selfless person.
However, putting everyone’s wants before your own needs can leave you feeling burnt out and like you have an obligation to others before yourself.
You frequently experience mood swings and run through several emotions in what feels like a short amount of time.
One moment you’re socializing, but the next you feel like you need to be alone or else you’ll burst.
This can often feel emotionally draining and might make it difficult to feel present and in control.
You don’t stop until the task is perfect.
This leads to higher stress and higher stakes, and likely would also describe yourself as a workaholic.
Again, it’s good to feel motivated and like you care about the quality of your work.
However, perfection is not attainable, and the pursuit of perfection can unfortunately come at the cost of mental well-being.
Are you the kind of person who leaves all of your tasks undone up until the eleventh hour?
Even if you consider yourself a perfectionist?
At first glance, perfectionism contradicts procrastination, but procrastination may actually come out of perfectionism.
In other words, you often wait until the last minute to start a task because you’re subconsciously afraid of getting it wrong or not being satisfied with the final product.
This can hinder your productivity and creativity, and you find that tasks become much more stressful than they ever needed to be.
Do you find yourself struggling to make even what feel like the simplest decisions?
Sometimes even just picking what shirt to wear in the morning can seem like the end of the world.
If you don’t feel confident in your decision-making skills, this can also be a sign of high functioning anxiety.
It’s a sign that you tend to overthink, which takes up a lot of energy you can be using on other tasks, or even just self care.
How to Cope With High Functioning Anxiety
So, you’ve read through the definition and symptoms of high functioning anxiety and feel like you resonate with them.
Once again, congratulations on taking the first step and recognizing that you might need help.
However, your journey to wellness is only just beginning; you don’t want to have high functioning anxiety forever.
If you find yourself struggling with high functioning anxiety, here are some things you can do to ease your stress.
Ground Yourself in Your Body
Anxiety can sometimes feel like an out-of-body experience.
So an easy tip for how to cope with high functioning anxiety is to ground yourself back into your body.
Reconnecting with your body is an easy and effective way to ease your anxiety symptoms.
Whether it’s going for a jog or practicing deep breathing at your desk, grounding yourself physically helps ground yourself mentally.
It can also be as simple as feeling the ground below or feet or the texture of the clothes on your body.
Affirmations are another great way to stay present and not let your thoughts and insecurities wander out of your control.
Pick a few affirmations and mantras that bring you comfort and remember them when you start to stress.
For example, when you feel yourself starting to panic, try telling yourself “I will be OK” or “This feeling is temporary”.
It might even help to keep a journal and write them down, but if you’re in a pinch, repeating them quietly to yourself (or just in your mind) works just fine.
Get Your Rest
Rest is not a reward; we all need rest to function properly.
Your work can wait; sometimes, we just need to go to bed and approach our tasks with a rested mind.
Make sure you’re taking breaks throughout the day and are sleeping well.
Ideally, the full eight hours.
It’s easier to grow anxious when you are overtired and not thinking rationally.
You probably won’t even be producing your best work if you’re running on 2 hours of sleep anyways.
Build A Team
Surely, you’re not the only person you know who suffers from high functioning anxiety.
In other words, you’re not alone and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
But this also means you don’t have to figure out how to cope with high functioning anxiety completely on your own.
Having others to talk to, whether in person or an online support group, is a great way to de-stress, feel less alone in your anxiety, and maybe even learn some new tips from someone going through similar issues.
And of course, we always recommend professional help if you feel like that is an option you want to explore.
These are just a few first steps for how to cope with high functioning anxiety on your own.
Remember, healing IS possible and something that you deserve.
Though, coping with your anxiety shouldn’t add to your anxiety, and it certainly isn’t a task you have to undertake on your own if you feel like that is too much for you to handle.
There are professionals who want the best for you and will help you regain control over your anxiety.