High functioning anxiety … most days you look like you’ve got it together. You can joke with your clients. You can network and seem outwardly calm and composed… but underneath is swirling turmoil. And when more and more pressures mount and you don’t get time to recharge … anxiety can get the better of you.
I’m speaking from example. At school I was known for being a perfectionist. I prided myself in being a model student. My anxiety manifested in other ways. My mum used to call me a “worry wort”. I shied away from anything I wasn’t good at (so as a child I decided I couldn’t ride a bike and I never rode one … until my 30s). I had self limiting behaviours … I worked hard knowing that hard work would be rewarding.
At uni, after every exam period I crashed because my life was study. I was one tracked in my focus. Then working in a 9-5 job, I had a propensity to say yes. Didn’t know how to say no. I still succeeded. I still climbed slowly up the ladder. But I couldn’t unwind so I worked harder!.
As a highly anxious person, I tended to be the confidant, the one that reached out to people … and when I was down, I would close down communications and be reinforced that relationships were fickle! I was making my worries reality.
Crisis led me to talk to a professional. She went to the depth of my anxiety. She said I had a habit of catastrophising… looking at the worst possible outcome and obsessing over it. My mind was so busy that I had to keep busy to try to squash my thoughts. Things had to change…..
– I sought professional help. Speaking with a psychologist every week helped me surface emotions and behaviours I had been trying to quash.
– I started focusing on my physical health. Massages, Pilates, walks … things I liked. I tried doing things I’d been told I was no good at at school … so I started bike riding, I started weight based exercise and I started feeling stronger mentally.
– I opened up to friends I could trust.
– I tried to find hobbies. For someone who was work obsessed… when I had to work out my hobbies in my 30s, it was trial and error. I tried my hand at sailing … and then realised upper body strength wasn’t my forte …. I went paragliding and faced my fears…. I realised I loved traveling so I made it a priority.