High Functioning Anxiety & Stress

Anxiety can shut you down or push you too far

When faced with situations that are unfamiliar or potentially dangerous, a small amount of stress can be helpful in getting your attention so that you can respond effectively. But when you have anxiety, a part of you is operating on overdrive–and it doesn’t feel good.

Worry, fear and tension lead to being overwhelmed and can leave you unable to make decisions, take action or follow through. Or, you can end up pulled in many directions, feeling frenzied or disorganized, and perpetually chasing solutions.

Anxiety lives in your body

When you are anxious, there is a feeling in your body that tells you something is very wrong. It may whisper or it may shout; but even when you try to ignore it, it lives under the surface and colors your experience.

Because it’s related to the physiological defense system, anxiety takes on a life of its own in the body. Sometimes anxiety is small and quiet, apprehensive and on watch; at other times it shouts loudly and takes over. Over time, it builds up to chronic symptoms.

Anxiety can feel like: tightness in the chest, a knot in the stomach, jaw tense, eyes focused, shallow breathing, fidgeting, sense of worry, feeling hollow, jittery, nervous, hard to breathe, don’t breathe, pulsing temples, hands shaking, can’t swallow, black pit in your belly, can’t sit still, keep moving, don’t move, chaotic energy, stuck energy, fatigue, pain, poor sleep, irritability, digestive problems.

High functioning anxiety: Calm on the outside, turmoil inside

Sometimes anxiety isn’t so obvious. You might not even be sure if the word anxiety fits your experience.

High functioning anxiety lurks under cover of being a high achiever, a detail-oriented hard worker, someone who is committed to finding solutions, an extraordinary problem-solver.

But what’s not evident is the sense of constant motion, pressure, or dread; fear of not being enough or not getting it right; or the persistent voice of but what if? in your head.

You may find yourself over-thinking or needing to get things just right. Procrastination and perfectionism go hand in hand, along with endless list-making. You may struggle with an inability to relax or find balance, and it’s common to worry about being left out or spend a lot of energy people-pleasing.

High functioning anxiety can make life feel heavy or make you feel like you can’t find your bearings and settle down. And because you seem to be functioning well and you keep it to yourself, it can feel very lonely.

How we help: Getting to a calmer and happier you

One of the ways we look at anxiety is to see it as energy that is either trapped or moving in too many directions at once. Our first priority is to help you get some relief from the effects of your anxiety and be able to use your own energy effectively.

Increasing awareness of your body’s signals of anxiety can help you use and build resources to develop a greater capacity for calm and relaxation. We work with you on mind-body awareness, relaxation skills and finding ways to actively intervene when you have anxiety symptoms.

Then we can start to take a look at what feeds the anxiety and work on repairing and resetting your system to operate differently. All sorts of things feed anxiety, such as the way your nervous system operates, experiences of trauma, the pace of the culture around you, or beliefs about yourself and the world that you may not even know you carry around with you.

Anxiety is a bit like the gas on the car being stuck on and things moving all too fast. If this sounds like you, we’d love to talk with you to see if we might be a good fit for helping you to move forward in a different way.

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