You may be accustomed to this time period. Should you search #highfunctioninganxiety on TikTok, you’ll discover movies with over 114 million views. However even when you don’t escape in rashes, you in all probability know what it looks like to enter the fight-or-flight response the place your coronary heart charge goes up and your ideas begin racing. When this occurs, your first intuition may be to keep away from no matter scenario is inflicting you anxiousness corresponding to getting on an airplane or giving a presentation.
It’s vital to notice that, though high-functioning anxiousness isn’t a dysfunction, the misery people (like me) expertise could be very actual. We frequently wrestle with overthinking, dwelling on previous errors, anticipating the worst, and needing reassurance from others. However as a substitute of attempting to flee from nerve-racking conditions, we push again in opposition to our anxiousness, managing to “succeed regardless of persistent emotions of worry, dread, and uneasiness,” says Tonya Lester, LCSW, a therapist who practices in Brooklyn, New York. “The high-functioning, anxious particular person believes that in the event that they don’t really feel nervous and agitated more often than not, they’re letting themselves off the hook or they’re on the verge of turning into a complete slacker.”
Why will we get caught considering that anxiousness helps us succeed?
Rising up in an Indo-Caribbean household taught me that pursuing an training was one of the best ways to honor my tradition and earn my family members’ approval. I discovered to deal with loss by channeling my anxiousness into schoolwork. At 7 years outdated, I couldn’t cease my dad from dying nor may I, at 17 years outdated, ease the struggling my grandma endured from dementia. However I may management my anxiousness lengthy sufficient to get good grades despite my deteriorating psychological well being.
From the surface, somebody with high-functioning anxiousness can seem as if they’ve a blueprint for fulfillment. They are typically excessive achievers, showing calm, organized, and attentive to element. Since they don’t need to threat failing or disappointing anybody, they typically view anxiousness as “gasoline for conducting duties,” says Daryl Appleton, EdD, MEd, psychotherapist, and Fortune 500 Government Coach. “Whereas this will have some apparent upsides like improved efficiency and productiveness, the downsides embrace perfectionism, imposter syndrome, and basing our value on what we do vs. who we’re.”
Being excessive functioning is nearly just like the anxiousness model of “no ache, no acquire.” In striving for perfectionism, we are able to get caught up in a cycle of procrastinating, then feeling overwhelmed whereas nonetheless managing to satisfy deadlines. This cycle, which Dr. Appleton refers to as a “sort of success delusion,” additional reinforces that we must be in a state of turmoil to attain our targets. As a society, as a result of we regularly have a good time achievements like profitable gold medals, reaching the highest of the music charts, or entering into an Ivy League faculty, it may be exhausting to let go of high-functioning anxiousness even whereas pushing ourselves to the brink of fatigue and burnout.
Why it’s vital to vary your relationship with anxiousness
Sometimes, high-functioning anxiousness is rooted in perfectionism and low shallowness, main us to imagine that our solely possibility in life is to be an anxious super-achiever or a go-with-the-flow failure. This type of considering doesn’t serve us effectively and, too typically we’re not even conscious of it. An instance from Lester exhibits this thought course of in motion: Think about beginning a job, and your new boss tells you that their purpose is to make you’re feeling scared and sad on a regular basis. Your boss continually tells you that you simply’re a failure, diminishes your concepts, berates you, and overlooks your accomplishments. “The high-functioning anxious particular person permits that boss to stay inside their head,” she provides.
With high-functioning anxiousness, we are able to develop accustomed to considering that it’s regular, and maybe helpful, to really feel jittery and overwhelmed on a regular basis. However this isn’t true. “When our minds are clouded by worry, we’re extra prone to make careless errors and ignore progressive concepts,” Lester says. “Anxiousness cuts us off from traits which might be chargeable for excessive achievement, like conscientiousness, creativity, and fervour.”
How you can handle high-functioning anxiousness with out shedding ardour or drive
Although high-functioning anxiousness isn’t a scientific dysfunction, you’ll be able to nonetheless profit from psychological well being help, particularly if anxiousness is interfering along with your enjoyment of life. For instance, in case your purpose is to modify careers and also you’ve been doing nearly all the pieces besides sending out resumes, it’s simple to double down on procrastination by overscheduling your self with work or social engagements to keep away from your job search. In that case, Dr. Appleton recommends asking your self, “Am I feeling pressured to attain as a result of it is a purpose I need? Or am I attempting to win another person’s approval?”
After getting a transparent sense of the motivation behind your targets, you’ll be able to decide what steps are wanted to maneuver ahead. Begin by monitoring your temper, searching for patterns corresponding to when minor stressors have gotten extra intense or extended, Dr. Appleton says. Take steps to scale back anxiousness corresponding to going for a stroll, ensuring you’re getting sufficient sleep and saying no to issues you’ll be able to’t accommodate in your schedule. As you think about your subsequent profession transfer, remember to separate who you might be from what you do, she provides, since your self-worth can turn into intertwined along with your job title.
Along with self-care, think about reaching out to a psychological well being skilled who may also help you problem unhelpful thought patterns and develop new methods of approaching stress. For example, they could recommend attempting what’s referred to as “actuality testing” by asking your self, “Is what I’m telling myself true or is there one other method to have a look at this case?” Lester says.
Keep in mind it’s okay to really feel anxious throughout troublesome occasions. An affordable quantity of “stress can sharpen our focus and assist us reply appropriately to the problems at hand,” Lester says. Studying to handle anxiousness isn’t about being carefree within the face of stress. As a substitute, it’s about practising self-compassion by recognizing errors as a part of your progress and taking time to have a good time your accomplishments.
“Excessive achievers who’re motivated by ardour, objective, and curiosity are simply as profitable as these impressed by anxiousness, they usually additionally take pleasure in their lives,” she says.