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Understanding & Coping with High-Functioning Anxiety

Written byDesiree Smith

High-functioning anxiety is a term used to describe individuals who experience symptoms of anxiety, but can continue with their daily routines and responsibilities. It might seem like they have everything under control, but internally, they could be grappling with overwhelming fears, worries, and other symptoms of anxiety. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step toward understanding and managing this condition.

Symptoms of High-Functioning Anxiety

  • Overthinking: Constant rumination about past conversations, decisions, or fearing future events. This can lead to feeling perpetually on edge, expecting the worst outcomes in various scenarios.
  • Perfectionism: An overwhelming need to get everything just right. Fear of making mistakes can be paralyzing.
  • Restlessness: Difficulty sitting still or a feeling of being "wound up."
  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks due to the fear of not being able to complete them perfectly.
  • Avoidance: Staying away from situations or events that may trigger anxiety, even if they’re crucial.
  • Overcompensating: Working excessively to mask fears of inadequacy.
  • Physical Symptoms: This can include stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, muscle tension, or sweating.
  • Sleep Problems: Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns, often as a result of persistent worrying.
  • Irritability: A decreased tolerance threshold, snapping easily at minor irritations.
  • Reassurance Seeking: Constantly checking in or seeking validation to make sure everything is okay.

Coping Strategies for High-Functioning Anxiety

  • Therapy: Specifically, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help address and reshape negative thought patterns that fuel anxiety.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Grounding exercises can help divert attention from anxious thoughts and focus on the present.
  • Limit Stimulants: Reduce the intake of caffeine and sugar, which can increase feelings of anxiety.
  • Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can help mitigate symptoms by releasing endorphins.
  • Establish Routines: Having a daily routine can provide a sense of normality.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: This can help with immediate feelings of panic or anxiety.
  • Journaling: Writing down your thoughts can be a way to process and manage them.
  • Stay Connected: Talking about your experiences with trusted friends or family can offer relief.
  • Medication: While not suitable for everyone, some might find relief with the help of prescribed medications.
  • Educate Yourself: Understanding anxiety can sometimes help in dealing with its symptoms.

High-functioning anxiety can be a silent struggle. Externally, individuals may seem perfectly fine, even thriving, but internally, the turmoil can be all-consuming. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate help or coping strategies can lead to a more balanced, less anxious life. Remember, it's always okay to seek support.

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