High Functioning Anxiety + What to do About It

High Functioning Anxiety + What to do About It

Let’s Examine High Functioning Anxiety

Let’s talk about high functioning anxiety. When you imagine an anxious person do you think about someone that is stressed and frazzled? If so, you are among the majority since this is one of the most common stereotypes about anxiety. 

The truth is that anxiety can manifest in many ways and some individuals do not actually “look” anxious.

What exactly does high functioning anxiety mean? 

Before we dive into more detail, it is important to know that high functioning anxiety is not an actual diagnosis but rather a term used to describe a cluster of symptoms. It is likely that someone exhibiting high anxiety traits does have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, however it is important to consult with a licensed professional.

People with high functioning anxiety may seem very well put together, organized, and on the top of their game. They may even come across as confident and very competent, while internally struggling with high levels of anxiety. This is referred to as high functioning anxiety.

What causes high functioning anxiety? 

What makes some individuals with anxiety more capable of successfully managing their day-to-day responsibilities? It comes down to how anxiety is used. Individuals with high functioning anxiety tend to use their anxious tendencies as a motivating tool to help them push through by setting high goals. This does not mean that they do not experience anxiety, but rather that they've found a way to repurpose that anxious energy.

While it is without a doubt a positive attribute to be able to successfully complete tasks, individuals with high functioning anxiety can often have difficulty setting and sticking to appropriate boundaries and are likely to be self-critical in ways that damage their esteem, performance and relationships and even health. 

How to tell if you have high functioning anxiety

Below are some of the most common traits of people with high functioning anxiety:

  • Proactive.
  • High achiever.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Highly organized.
  • Outgoing personality.
  • Difficulty saying no.
  • Struggling with negative self talk and ruminating thoughts. 

Despite the appearance of “having it all together,” people with high functioning anxiety still struggle with some or all of the symptoms of generalized anxiety, including:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive anxiety or worry on most days for at least six months

Tips for high functioning anxiety

Below are general tips to better manage high functioning anxiety:

  • Set realistic goals: for high functioning anxiety, this likely means lowering self expectations! 
  • Use positive and compassionate self-talk: talking to yourself in a nurturing, accepting way. To practice being gentle on yourself, even when feeling frustrated, you can try Metta or "Loving Kindness" meditation techniques. 
  • Build self-awareness: focus on recognizing your needs - set boundaries, and ask for space and/or support when needed
  • Practice self-care: treat your body with love and care through adequate rest, proper nutrition, and hydration.
  • Find a creative or active outlet to release energy, like art or an exercise class. 

If you or anyone that you know have struggled with anxiety, please know that you're not alone! bekome’s experts are here to offer support, advice and clinically-formulated natural supplements to help you thrive. 

Check out our Ultimate Guide for nutritional recommendations to help lower anxiety and achieve better wellbeing. 



Written by Camila Smith, LCSW.