High Functioning Anxiety - Just what is it?

Beyond Blue describe anxiety as “more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where we feel under pressure, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.”

However, how would we describe high functioning anxiety?

The term “high functioning anxiety” generally refers to someone who functions well enough to fulfil the obligations required by career and relationships to keep moving forward in their lives, yet still has to deal with anxiety or stress from a particular part of their life.

Most of us might say, that sounds like all of us!

To a degree this is true, we all live with everyday pressures that on occasion cause us the odd sleepless night or make us space out in certain situations.

The only issue is how do we stop high functioning anxiety turning into full blown anxiety that can lead to harsher mental health issues?

Key signs of those who are living with high functioning anxiety:

Control and order

Most people have the characteristic of wanting to be in control and having life in perfect order - a perfectionist one might say. By having everything in your life in a certain order you tend to feel more in control and safe. However, something as simple as missing a single workout or not getting your usual car park can send you spiralling.

You struggle to let people in

Often people call you aloof or distant, you fail to emotionally let people see your weak side. By trying to keep your anxiety and vulnerability to yourself, you can often compartmentalise your emotions in an attempt to think logically and rationally.

Other people’s opinions are constantly on your mind

You are constantly worried about what others think of you and will always try to go out of your way to ensure you please others. Often, when this doesn’t happen you become increasingly anxious and negative self-talk starts to creep in. Disappointing others is your biggest fear.

Physical issues

Your worries about key aspects of your life can start to affect you physically. You might not be able to sleep, you find yourself feeling run down or you may even be more susceptible to colds and flu. Internal worries can sometimes manifest physically. Another key trait to keep an eye on is bad habits such as biting your nails or fiddling with your hair.

You hate missing out

FOMO or ‘Fear of missing out’ is a massive concern for you, you hate saying no to any type of social engagement as you worry that you will miss out on the fun or the latest news and gossip. Your high functioning nature means you feel obliged to be involved and your high standards guide you.

If you feel like you recognise some or most of these traits, there is no need to be alarmed.

We all go through phases of working through stress and anxiety, and most times this can pass as we recognise the issues and try to rectify the situation.

Our advice to you is that if you feel the anxiety continue to rise and you don’t seem to be able to use any techniques to pull you through - it’s time to talk to a professional.

At Outred Psychology we can provide you with the tools and techniques to help you recognise where your anxiety comes from, and how you can manage this. Contact us today to book in an appointment.

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