Please note, I am not a professional, all writing is through personal experience.
Anxiety doesn’t always mean the traditional hiding away in a panic, high functioning anxiety is equally as hard to deal with.
I’ll be totally honest here, I didn’t realise I had high functioning anxiety until I talked about it with my therapist. I thought my traits were just normal, a little annoying, but normal traits that everyone experienced.
My thought process was that at least I could function, but I then noticed these little habits were taking over my life and were just as controlling as my previous symptoms of anxiety.
This post is to serve as guidance on what it’s like having high functioning anxiety, from my perspective, comfort that you’re not alone and maybe even an eye-opener to see that other people have similar traits to you. I’ve also listed the lifestyle changes I have implemented to help.
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I literally rolled my eyes when I wrote “people-pleasing” because it’s the most annoying trait, that I have. Someone could ask me to do something that I 100% do not want to do, but do I say no?
The fear of letting someone down or someone being upset because of me made me feel anxious for long periods of time. I would start to ask myself questions like:
- What if that person falls out with me?
- Will they be mad at me?
- They will think I’m being difficult.
- They have asked me to help, I don’t want to let anyone down.
The list is endless, but because of this, I tend to say yes when I really want to say no.
How I am overcoming this?
Setting boundaries has really helped, which I talked about in my lockdown post. I try to explain to the person the reason behind my answer, and if they are upset with me, it’s not my responsibility and I cannot control their feelings.
I’ll be honest, I understand the process I have to follow, but it’s still difficult to do. Something I’m working on.
Change in my routine is upsetting and stressful
I didn’t realise this was a trait that came with high functioning anxiety but makes complete sense. I would feel irritated, upset and annoyed by people changing plans, even if it made no real difference to the overall plan.
For example, if I had plans to go for dinner on a Friday night, and on Friday morning it got changed to Saturday night, it would really make me feel upset. To be honest, I have no idea why.
How to deal with this happening in the future
The best advice I can give is to take a breather and thinking about the situation. If a plan changes, I like to take myself away from the situation. I’ll write out the plan and the negative effects of changing the plans.
Nine times out of ten, there’s no real change and I reassure myself that it will be okay.
Jumping to the worst scenario
I feel like my mind goes into overdrive when something negative happens in my life. Let me give an example:
I have a job interview, and the bus is a few minutes late. My brain starts racing. If the bus is late, I’ll be late for the interview, they will then think that I am terrible with time management. Not hire me. I didn’t get the job.
I’ve just convinced myself that I am not getting the job because my bus is a few minutes late.
It can be really upsetting to live like this. I end up upsetting myself for no reason and I’m then in a panic.
How am I dealing with this?
There are a few things I like to do if my mind is playing these tricks, such as:
- Write out the situation using a thought journal. I write out my intrusive thoughts along with realistic outcomes. It really helps to see a more realistic solution in front of me.
- Taking a time out. I used to feel almost child like taking a time out but it really helps me gather my thoughts together.
- Breathing exercises. Whenever I get into a panic, my heart starts to race. Practicing my breathing techniques prepares me for when I feel anxious.
Not being able to stop and relax
Staying busy keeps my mind busy, therefore I don’t have time to feel anxious, that’s the thought process behind it anyway. I then struggle without a routine because of this. Especially during lockdown.
During the week I would work my normal job and by the time I finished, I would spend time with my sisters, shower and then sleep.
The weekend is a different story.
What’s annoying is that when Friday comes, I am really excited for the weekend, when I actually spend a lot of the time stressed because I have 0 routine.
I would end up spending the weekend anxious and overthinking everything because I had no routine.
What do I do to calm my mind down
I am building a weekend routine but also factoring in some downtime. This allows me to relax for short periods of time without feeling more stressed. Blogging played a huge factor in this because I can blog as much as I want.
Journalling also helps when my thoughts are racing. Again writing out my thought process and an action plan to combat it.
Procrastinating until the last minute, then working under pressure
If I know I have a deadline of Friday, I’ll start that project as late as I possibly can.
Then I’ll rush about the last minute and stress about it.
An example of this for me is creating Pinterest pins. I like to post between 5-6 fresh pins a day. I like manual pinning and at the moment, I have the time. Instead of spending an hour or two per week and creating and uploading pins, I will create my pins daily, making my life 10x harder, because I find it almost impossible to create things I know I can create later.
How am I conquering my procrastination?
Procrastinating is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and I can’t lie and write that I’ve totally cracked it. Because I haven’t. There are things that I’m doing that make it that little bit easier.
- I set my phone to focus mode every day. It’s set on a timer and I cannot touch any social media apps until the time is up. If I want a break, my phone allows a five minute period. My phone also goes into black and white mode.
- This might sound a little mad, but I force myself to do things. If my attention starts to wander, I literally tell myself, no it’s time to get back to work. It’s worked for me so far.
- Using a goal planner. I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals. It can seem overwhelming to some, but having that structure in my life really helps me stay on track. I love being able to tick things off my to-do list.
What it’s like having high functioning anxiety
High functioning anxiety is different for everyone, no two people are the exact same. Although there are similar traits, which helps me realise that I am not alone in the way I feel or think.
Burning out is a con of being so active and busy all the time, so it’s important to factor in a self-care routine in your busy schedule.
What are some things you experience with high functioning anxiety?
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