Outwardly, you may appear calm, cool, and collected. You go about your day as normal, driving to work, buying groceries. Deep inside your mind, a storm rages, as your anxiety maneuvers into every corner of your life. Constant worry sits like a heavy boulder on your shoulders.
Yet, this boulder is invisible. Only you can see it. Only you can feel it. But it’s there, making every task a little harder, as you struggle to climb your way through life. This is the reality of high functioning anxiety. It often gets dismissed by friends and loved ones, as you cope just enough to remain productive. Despite your composed appearance, you constantly tip toe on the border of a mental breakdown. One small disturbance could send you flying over the edge.
Nobody should have to live life on the edge of a vertical cliff. Once your feet are firmly planted on the ground, you’ll find it's much easier to engage in the present moment, and genuinely live your life. However, the path to mindfulness and clarity is not simple. There are numerous twists, turns, and drawbacks. It requires an undaunting perseverance, as you recognize your effort will ultimately reap a long-term reward. Below, I’ve listed 3 strategies I use to cope with my high functioning anxiety, that I hope can be of utility to you!1. Recognize when you are ruminating
The first step to fixing a problem is recognizing you have one. My anxiety often results in endless hours of rumination, where I spend time thinking over a specific subject. It’s important to catch yourself when you descend into one of these cycles. Recognize that you are engaging in unhealthy behavior, and gently turn your thoughts toward another subject. It’s okay if you have to repeat this process 5, 10, 15, or 100 times! Yes, it’s exhausting, but this training will help your brain find new ways to think in a non-obsessive manner.2. Assess the facts and break down your fear
What’s truly the worst that could happen? Let’s say you are afraid of a big assignment you have coming up. You fear you will fail your assignment, flunk the class, and lose your degree. Is this a rational assumption? Most likely, you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of catastrophic thinking. If you genuinely look at the facts, you know that you have done well in the class before. You still have plenty of time to finish the assignment, and in the worst case scenario, you receive a B or a C. Nobody is dropping out of college. Oftentimes, if you closely analyze your fear, you realize there was nothing to truly be afraid of! It was all your anxiety.3. Reconnect with the physical realm
It’s easy to feel physically stuck if your anxiety is spinning out of control, while your body remains stagnant. The internal explosion of energy is repressed and heightened by your immobile body. In order to reconnect your mind and body, it’s important to remain active - even if that means a 15 minute walk! Stagnating your body while your mind runs rampant is the worst thing you can do for your anxiety. Breathing exercises are also a great way to regulate your anxious thoughts, and channel that nervous energy into something positive.
High functioning anxiety can take a massive toll on your life. If you feel your anxiety requires extra help, please reach out to a medical professional. You are not alone on this journey. The perpetual whirring of anxious thoughts will ultimately clear, revealing a brighter life.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman