First of all, we need to normalize anxiety. Anxiety is something we have all encountered at one point or another in life. Anxiety, like sadness, is part of being human and it is an indication that you are alive. Some common experiences of anxiety may occur before a public speaking event, waiting on results from the doctor, or asking for a pay raise. Times like these can be anxiety provoking and it is easy to see why. While anxiety is a normal part of being human, it can also teeter beyond the typical experiences and develop into a much larger stressor, such as a formalized mental health diagnosis.
In this blog, I want to address high functioning anxiety because it has been very present in the mental health world over the last few years. I specialize in working with business owners, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial couples; high functioning anxiety is very commonplace among this population. If you proceed to the list below it is easy to identify why.
5 Signs of High Functioning Anxiety
Yes, overworking. Even though we glorify busyness in this society, overworking is one of the main tall tale signs of high functioning anxiety. It is easy to note this attribute as “positive” or “functional” because it is not debilitating like other types of anxious traits. However, it is also a way that people can continually remain in a “wound up, edgy and restless” body experience.
- Difficulty staying in the moment.
Often, people with high functioning anxiety struggle to stay present. Is your mind constantly racing about how there is always more to do, plans to be made, a recipe to look up, a social media update to check, an appointment to schedule, a company to call, or something “better” you could be doing with your time? Do you repeatedly feel guilty at the end of the day that you were not mentally present with your family even though you were physically with them? If so, you may be experiencing high functioning anxiety.
- Rest is really, really hard.
Many people with high functioning anxiety struggle to rest. This can be seen mentally or physically. They generally understand the importance of rest, though they find it very difficult (or nearly impossible) to allow themselves to experience rest and rejuvenation.
- High expectations.
Regularly, people with high functioning anxiety have very high expectations of themselves. They are often highly capable people, so going the extra mile is “no problem.” Saying “yes”, doing more tasks, and committing to more projects is a way to keep the anxiety going, which helps them to continually excel and meet their high expectations.
- You have controlling patterns.
If a modification in the schedule throws you off, or you have a tendency to hyper fixate on details, or you struggle with change – you may have high functioning anxiety. For these folks, control is often a way to minimize risk and to create predictable environments where they know they can thrive.
If you are curious about the anxiety that you experience and you notice it is negatively impacting your relationships, occupation, or daily life tasks, then it may be a good time to set an appointment with a licensed professional counselor.
-Written by Emily De La Torre, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA