At one point or another all of us have experienced stress and anxiety. In fact, according to recent headlines 82 percent of us feel stressed or anxious at least once during the working week. Would you regard yourself as having highly functioning anxiety though? While it’s not medically recognised, the term is becoming increasingly common.
What is highly functioning anxiety?
In some of the worst cases anxiety can be incredibly debilitating and leave people unable to go about their daily lives. A highly functioning anxiety sufferer is still able to get up and go to work and socialise, but they have underlying anxiety bubbling underneath. You might struggle to switch off and get a full night’s sleep, but you’ll still be able to get up, do the school run and fulfill a day’s work.
What are the symptoms?
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions. Highly functioning anxiety is more of a manifestation rather than a condition as such. ‘Someone with high functioning anxiety may be the picture of success: you might arrive to work earlier than everyone else, impeccably dressed, co-workers may know you as driven in your work, but you are also willing to help others when asked,’ explains Chloe Ward, a technician at Smart TMS, one of the UK’s leading mental health clinic. Here, Ward outlines the key symptoms of highly functioning anxiety:
– You exhibit controlling patterns so this perfectionism can manifest in controlling habits and strict routines but it is really a way to make you feel like you are more in charge of your life, missing a simple thing can send you spiralling.
– You are constantly busy so your to-do list is a mile long and your weekend is always jam-packed meaning that there isn’t any time to relax. By constantly doing something it keeps your mind busy, when you finally stop you are alone with your thoughts.
– You’re not sleeping well so all the tossing and turning in the night can be a true reflection of what is going on inside your head. The anxiety you have built up in the day may come out through sleep disturbance.
– You have that crippling fear of letting other people down so obsessive and intrusive negative self-talk is a big indication of high functioning anxiety and the constant concern that your disappointing those around you.
– There may be characteristics you may show, such as a nervous chatter, nervous habits or a need to do repetitive things, avoiding eye contact, a tendency to dwell on negative things, need for reassurance, inability to enjoy the moment and mental and physical fatigue.
How can you reduce anxiety?
Unsurprisingly yoga and meditation are the most commonly suggested methods to help keep your anxiety levels in-check. A lot of people can find meditation hard. Jo Fairley wrote a great piece a few months back on the apps that can make you happier, which is well worth reading if you’ve struggled with meditation previously and want to give it another shot. For some, stretching it out in a Vinyasa Flow class might be just the tonic you need after a long week, but others might find pounding the treadmill or sweating it out in a spin class just as effective. Essentially it’s about finding the method that allows you to switch-off and decompress – whether that’s exercising, meditation or simply reading a chapter of your book before you go to bed.
Ward also recommends adjusting your thought process and addressing the balance of positivity and negativity. For example, if you’re stressing about a deadline, counter it with, ‘I always make my deadlines and even if I miss this one, it isn’t the end of the world.’
For those looking for herbal remedies for anxiety, Magnolia Rhodiola Complex is a supplement Shabir recommends time and time again. The blend of Chinese herbs helps to not only reduce anxiety and boost your mood, but also build up your body’s tolerance to stress. If you’re struggling to switch off after a busy day, try taking two capsules an hour or so before you go to bed.
On the other end of the spectrum; if you’re willing to make a dramatic life change, it’s worth considering moving to Luxembourg. According Expert Market, the city has topped the list for the least stressed thanks to its work-life balance and higher wages and holiday allocation.