Anxiety is not uncommon. Many people experience different levels of it and it affects their lives in unique ways. Everyone experiences slightly different challenges because of it and it shows up a bit differently. Some people experience anxiety to a point where it affects their daily functioning and they struggle with routine tasks such as the responsibilities of holding a job.
Everyone experiences stress and anxiety but when it reaches a certain degree it can become a serious mental health concern. That being said, some people experience high functioning anxiety and manage to be successful despite their challenges.
This does not mean they have it any easier. They feel psychological distress in almost everything they do but are able to maintain mostly healthy relationships and follow through with responsibilities. This can sometimes be even worse as outside observers are unable to see the struggle. They assume the person is doing fine.
People with high functioning anxiety are able to accomplish things and these accomplishments are sometimes what assuages their anxiety, but it is not less painful.
People with high functioning anxiety might:
· Work long hours or overcommit due to a constant fear of being perceived as lazy or inadequate
· People please and be agreeable because they are trying to avoid the feeling of not being good enough
· Be overly busy because they are afraid to say “no”
· Seem to have it all together but are plagued by overthinking, painful thoughts and extreme stress
I experience pretty high levels of anxiety. As a result, I don’t know when to take breaks, or how. I constantly feel like I should be working and, being my own boss, there isn’t anyone to delegate to or to structure breaks into my schedule. Getting things done is almost an obsession that prevents anxiety from rearing its ugly head and intensifying.
This can make it hard to explain to someone why they might have to call for the pizza and I can’t or why I have to excuse myself from small talk because I no longer have the emotional bandwidth.
Mental illnesses are already invisible illnesses. Add to that the fact that someone is high functioning despite it and their pain and struggle often goes unnoticed.
If you are someone with high functioning anxiety, it’s important to make room for self-care. Here are a few things you can try:
· Schedule breaks and self-care time. Find self-care activities you are likely to do.
· If you can, let your team know you have trouble declining excessive responsibilities so they can hold you accountable
· Mind your sleep, diet and exercise
· Set a goal for the number of tasks to complete in a day and call it once those tasks are done
Anxiety is difficult regardless, but high functioning anxiety has its own challenges. When you see someone at work, at school, in your life who seems to be taking on so much, who seems to have it all together, who seems to be working so hard, maybe check in on them. It could be anxiety driven.