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  • Writer's pictureSummit Counseling Group

Understanding and Overcoming High-Functioning Anxiety

Updated: Jul 1, 2023


Individual using a tablet to research ways to manage high-functioning anxiety.
Working on strategies to overcome high-functioning anxiety, one step at a time.

High-functioning anxiety isn't a recognized medical diagnosis, yet it's a term that resonates with many people. Those with high-functioning anxiety are often able to perform daily tasks and excel in their careers while simultaneously battling internal anxiety. Outwardly, they may appear successful and in control, yet inwardly, they're dealing with persistent worries and fears.


High-functioning anxiety is characterized by incessant worry and nervousness, but these feelings often drive individuals to accomplish more to mitigate their fears of failure or judgment. However, the accompanying chronic stress can have significant mental and physical health repercussions over time.


Understanding the manifestations of high-functioning anxiety is the first step toward managing it effectively. These may include perfectionism, constant worry about various aspects of life, a fear of disappointing others, restlessness, and difficulty saying no or setting boundaries. Individuals might also experience physical symptoms such as muscle tension, insomnia, or gastrointestinal problems.


Overcoming high-functioning anxiety requires a multi-faceted approach:


1. Self-Acceptance: Self-acceptance involves embracing who you are, flaws and all, and accepting that everyone has limitations and makes mistakes. It requires shifting away from a perfectionistic mindset that can often drive high-functioning anxiety. Celebrate your achievements, but also acknowledge and learn from your mistakes. Remind yourself that it's okay not to excel at everything all the time.


2. Mindfulness Practices: Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to the present moment. For people with high-functioning anxiety, whose minds are often preoccupied with worry, mindfulness can be an invaluable tool. Mindfulness practices like meditation, mindful breathing, and yoga can help reduce anxiety by grounding your thoughts and promoting a state of calm. They teach you to observe your feelings and thoughts without judgment, allowing you to better understand your anxiety triggers and manage your reactions.


3. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can help you understand and reframe negative patterns of thinking. Through CBT, individuals with high-functioning anxiety can identify harmful thought patterns and learn strategies to challenge and change these thoughts. By understanding the link between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, they can develop healthier coping mechanisms.


4. Healthy Lifestyle: Maintaining a balanced lifestyle can have a substantial impact on your mental health. Regular physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators. A balanced diet ensures your brain gets the nutrients it needs to function optimally. Sufficient sleep is crucial for mental and emotional well-being. Also, limiting stimulants like caffeine, which can trigger or worsen anxiety symptoms, can be beneficial.


5. Professional Help: If high-functioning anxiety is causing significant distress or interfering with your daily life, it might be time to seek professional help. A mental health professional can provide personalized strategies for managing your anxiety. They can offer a range of treatments, including psychotherapy (talk therapy), medications, or a combination of both, depending on your specific symptoms and needs.


Remember, while high-functioning anxiety can push you to achieve more, it's essential to balance ambition with mental wellness. If your anxiety feels overwhelming or is interfering with your quality of life, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Overcoming high-functioning anxiety is possible, and seeking help is the first step toward leading a healthier, happier life.



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