Have High-Functioning Anxiety? Here’s How To Stop It From Affecting Your Life
Composed on the outside, but crumbling on the inside? You probably have high-functioning anxiety, which means that while you frequently suffer from stress and fear, you’re able to function reasonably well in most, if not all, situations.
But if left unchecked, high-functioning anxiety can impair the quality of both your personal and professional lives. We got Cherlyn Chong, a breakup recovery and dating coach that caters to female professionals, to share five tips on how you can manage it better.
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1. Have complete acceptance of your condition
“First, you should accept that having high-functioning anxiety doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you. It just means that you have higher levels of anxiety than normal and that’s fine. And because you’re still able to function, you should recognise that you already have the skills to reduce the anxiety if you want to.
Silence and secrecy will only serve to isolate and intensify the effects of your stress. Complete acceptance that your anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a person will eliminate the shame you have of it.”
2. Treat it like a career goal
“You should see resolving your high-functioning anxiety as no different from accomplishing a career goal. I’ve found that high-achievers do not need more information; rather, they need guidance to get out of their own heads and get things done.
It’s important to form an action plan. One key reason why people often fail is that they don’t create a clear, tangible goal to aim for—studies have shown that setting specific goals results in a much higher performance compared with non-specific goals.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know all the steps yet. Just determine that you have a goal to get to and then figure out how to achieve it.”
3. Ask yourself two questions
“Every single time you feel like doing something, simply ask yourself, ‘Do I need to get this done today?’ If the answer is no, ask yourself, ‘What do I have to prove by doing this?’
If the answer is to, say, prove to your boss that you’re an efficient worker, that’s not a good enough reason to do the task, not when you have work that might be more important.
By asking yourself these two questions, you can very quickly get to the real reason why you might be needlessly doing something and can reprioritise your tasks to spend your time better.”
4. Make time for play
“Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of The National Institute for Play, has presented evidence that anxiety and depression can be the result of a ‘play deficit’.‘
To combat anxiety, regularly give yourself a period of fresh air, sunshine, and body movement outdoors. To focus on having unadulterated fun, turn off your mobile phone during playtime.
Try swimming, running, hiking, or my personal favourite—frisbee. Get a friend or two on board to make this a social experience. It’s impossible to experience anxiety when you’re having fun. You’ll come to work noticing that your stress has been significantly reduced, with the mental clarity and energy to take on the day.”
5. Engage competent help
“Because of the nature of high-functioning anxiety, it’s not easy to find an expert who truly understands its complexities. It’s not just about finding someone who can sympathise and talk it out with you. The wrong expert can perpetuate the anxiety, or make it worse.
Find an expert who is well aware of the link between corporate life and anxiety, and who is experienced in helping professionals achieve their career goals while stressing less. Invest in yourself so that you can live a fuller life.”