High functioning anxiety is quite tough to manage. The reason why it is so difficult to manage is because the person who is suffering may appear to be fine on the outside, however he or she might be facing an internal struggle of their own just to make it till the end of the day. People with high functioning anxiety are generally abel to complete their jobs and tasks and may appear to function well even in social gatherings, although throughout the day they are internally facing all the same type of symptoms of anxiety disorder, which includes but is not limited to fear, anxiety, rapid heart rate, intense feelings of impending doom and gastrointestinal distress.
People with this condition normally do not avoid situations which can trigger anxiety, and they also do not appear to experience or feel a disruption or blockage in their day to day life. Only having an experience of this could be overwhelming, especially since other people may not be aware that you are suffering from high functioning anxiety. It is not considered to be a mental health diagnosis, it is because those who actually experience it themselves report it being without problems to be able to function well in life. Moreover, no recognisable behaviour changes are observed by others. However, on the outside it may seem that a person who is functioning correctly, the struggle which a person faces internally can be quite disturbing. Onlymyhealth editorial team talked to Dr. Vasanth R, Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Malar Hospital, about the symptoms and ways to cope up from high functioning anxiety.
Symptoms of high functioning anxiety
Anxiety is a natural and healthy emotion that is experienced by almost everyone. It is a normal feeling as it makes some people to pay more attention to detail and other important problems or warnings of any possible dangers. But, with high functioning anxiety disorder, the fear response becomes exaggerated, and the person becomes more anxious in situations that do not ask for it. According to Dr. Vasanth, the symptoms of high functioning anxiety are:
1. Poor sleep
People suffering from high functioning anxiety tend to have a runny mind. Thoughts rush in their minds, leaving the person clueless and anxious, which leads to bad sleep patterns, problem in falling asleep or waking up during midnight and not being able to sleep back.
2. Overly busy
Such people tend to keep themselves occupied which may be due to the nervous energy or fear of failure. It may look like success on the surface but deep inside it might be just a churn of anxiety. Such patients are pro-active, tidy, organised and highly achieving.
Instead of being highly achieving, such people sometimes tend to procrastinate things in a few cases, which is followed by crunch-time work. The person may experience feeling of guilt even on minor mistakes and on taking essential breaks for rest.
The people suffering from high functioning anxiety are extremely indecisive and overthink a lot. They tend to overanalyze and think about every point of a situation in too much detail. They have a really hard time in choosing one defined path. The act of overthinking is usually associated with anxiety and depression.
5. Difficulty to relax
Patients suffering from high functioning anxiety may find it difficult to relax, because of both physical and mental rush. Inability to say 'no' can also put you in uncomfortable situations at times. Improper sleep cycle also adds on, which can lead to constant feeling of physical tiredness.
6. People pleasing
Such people also have a tendency of proving themselves to be the best or a perfectionist. They might push their limits to people to unreasonable and unimaginable levels. They are very conscious about their image in the mind of other people. They appear to be cold or arrogant because of the inability to express their emotions.
Ways to cope up high functioning anxiety
The fear and anxiety can overlap everything, due to which necessary steps are taken to avoid situations that lead to this feeling. In addition, you should not worry about having anxiety and the situations that cause the anxiety, as it can result in even more anxiety. So, here are some simple ways to cope up with high functioning anxiety:
Regular exercise should be a major part of leading a healthy lifestyle. It not only helps in regulating a lot of functions in your body, but can also play a role in preventing many diseases. Combination of daily workout and maintaing your weight is important to balance you mind and body. Exercise can keep you focused, calm and also reduces stress. You should try and engage yourself in atleast one type of exercise such as running, walking, swimming, cardio, yoga or even dancing. Keeping your body active is directly interlinked with keeping your mind at ease. Having a habit of exercising daily and on a long run can provide a lot of health benefits. Doing daily physical activity with help losing weight and staying anxiety free.
2. Recognize your symptoms and talk to someone
It is also important for a person to recognize their own symptoms. Firstly, one should be aware about the signs of high functioning anxiety. Once identified, it is also essential for the individual to understand and acknowledge how they have an impact on your behaviour and well being. Instead of obsessing over the signs, you need to talk to someone and act up. Talking it out and taking help from a loved one can mean a lot to you and make you think less about things.
3. Healthy diet
A balanced and nutritious diet plays a major role in the functioning and stress on your mind. Consuming a healthy diet can help in regulating many natural bodily functions and in preventing several chronic diseases as well. The health benefits include reducing the risk of diabetes, heart problems and even cancer. But, an individual should not make any major diet changes in your schedule as it can also have a number of negative effects on your health. Your diet should include all the essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals required by the body.
You can put lavender essential oil in your diffuser to make the environment more relaxing, stress free and fresh. This will calm your mind and avoid the overthinking. Aromatherapy can even help with a better sleeping pattern, which is one of the main side effects of high functioning anxiety. You can easily cope up from this feeling with the help of aromatherapy.
Deep breathing and meditation will also contribute towards managing your stress and putting your mind at ease. Establishing a meditation schedule is a proved natural way to calm your brain and distract it from high functioning anxiety and overthinking behaviour. There are various yoga poses that can help in relieving stress, thus dealing with this condition. You have to get active and keep your mind busy and deep breathing can be an effective way to do so. Deep and diaphragmatic breathing can very quickly activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the branch of the nervous system for the functions of the body.
So, these were the symptoms and ways to cope up high functioning anxiety. With a little anxiety, the individual experiences minor behavioural changes and is mostly determined as having mild symptoms rather than being called high functioning. However, this difference does not talk about the variation between how a person is feeling on the inside and how he or she is showing those feelings externally.
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