What is High-Functioning Anxiety?
High-functioning anxiety isn’t a clinical diagnosis, but it’s a term that resonates with many. People with high-functioning anxiety are often seen as successful, detail-oriented, and punctual. To the outside observer, they seem to have it all together. However, internally, they’re grappling with constant feelings of unease.
Some common traits and behaviours associated with high-functioning anxiety include:
- A constant need to be busy
- Overthinking and incessant worrying
- Perfectionism to the point of exhaustion or frustration
- A fear of disappointing others
- Physical symptoms like a racing heart, dry mouth, or upset stomach
Despite these feelings, individuals with high-functioning anxiety manage to perform their daily tasks and often excel in their roles. But over time, this continuous state of internal turbulence can take a toll.
The impact can be devastating, career-ending
Jasmine’s Story: The Investment Banker with High-Functioning Anxiety
Jasmine, not her real name, had worked for many years to get to a position in her career that universally carried the accolade, ‘has it all’, from bystanders and onlookers who ironically didn’t work in the same industry.
Her recollection was that when she was struggling to gain employment as a new graduate a decade ago, everyone was more than eager to inquire about her progress. When your luck is down, everyone seemed keen to ask for updates, but when the career eventually took off, the interest in asking stopped, an early casualty of success she mused.
At 32, she was an Associate Director at an investment bank in the city. Well, renumerated with what you would conclude was a solid, bankable career path ahead. Senior in all senses of the word, but was among peers who earned a footballer’s salary without celebrity.
Despite her glamorous exterior, Jasmine was always on edge. Her mornings she started way before her alarm went off. As she lay in bed, she would rehearse presentations in her head, predicting every possible question that a client might ask and preparing several responses to those questions. Upon further investigation, it was discovered that they were not clients, but peers. In some cases, the clients were detached, which made that part of the job an escapism from the hornet’s nest in the office.
Then there was the inbox, an email notification that could have the effect of turning on, emotional instability at the flick of a switch.
The good deliverables became expected, and sometimes hardly noticed. She muttered. ‘Everyone cheers on the school band when they can keep a few bars on a triangle, but who is impressed anymore that the Rolling Stones can play? Evolution right?’ If you need praise, go into acting, but then, how to navigate audition rejections?
In the event that things did not go according to plan, which is quite common in this line of work, everyone had an opinion. It is impossible to beat a peer pile-on, which is similar to a Twitter pile-on but with real people involved.
Though her peers praised her for her impeccable attention to detail, on reflection, it was not praise. This was simply a method of passing items that required thought onto her pile. No one seems to realize that these characteristics are at a cost, resulting from a deep-seated fear of making mistakes. It was not uncommon for Jasmine to triple-check her analysis, sometimes staying up until the early hours of the morning to ensure that there had been no oversight.
Social events, although seemingly enjoyable, presented another challenge. Despite her success, she continued to feel that she was an imposter among character actors who just appeared at meetings to give opinions, take no notes, take no actions, and leave as they came ‘as experts’.
She did not receive any relief on weekends, especially when the diary indicated a hosting event at which she would be presenting a position piece against individuals who appear to be more qualified and have authored a manual on the bank’s operations. However, the circulation was conspicuously restricted to themselves and their bosses.
Her friends envied her relentless drive, not realising it was fueled by deep-seated anxiety. To Jasmine, her achievements were more than just the product of ambition; they were a means of coping, of staying one step ahead of the lurking dread of inadequacy.
What should Jasmine do?
You could be forgiven for concluding that Jasmin should consider a different career, however, to provide such advice without spending some time in therapy trying to unravel this whole complex juggernaut is a risky undertaking.
The characteristics of Jasmine are consistent with the model of high-functioning anxiety. Despite the complexity of that environment, there is a driven character that has succeeded quite well. If you remove the framework, the pressures, the attention to detail drive, and the need to prove herself continuously, what would be the result?
The payoff should never be underestimated. How does Jasmina’s story end, from pillar to post, doom and gloom? Is it really that bad? Whenever we are feeling down, we match the mood with the appropriate experience.
It’s a sign of a desperate need for a life recalibration, and rebalance.
How were the first 6 months Jasmin? Good!
When did it begin to get problematic? When the project became mission impossible!
Why were you picked to run those Jasmin…..Because you are Good!?
Understanding High-Functioning Anxiety: The Data Behind the Narrative
While Jasmine’s story paints a vivid picture of the lived experience of high-functioning anxiety, it’s essential to understand that her experience is not an isolated one. Numerous studies and statistics underscore the prevalence and impact of this form of anxiety.
Statistics and Studies:
- Prevalence: According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, anxiety disorders are common and affect millions of people worldwide. Specifically, about 6.8 million U.S. adults have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. However, it’s crucial to note that the actual number of people experiencing anxiety is likely significantly higher. This underscores the idea that many individuals might be silently grappling with these challenges.
- Workplace Impact: While the Mayo Clinic Health System highlights the prevalence of anxiety disorders, other sources, such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, have found that over 50% of respondents felt that anxiety impacted their workplace performance, relationships with colleagues, and quality of work. This aligns with Jasmine’s experience, where her anxiety both propelled her to excel and posed significant challenges.
- Physical Symptoms: Research from the National Institute of Mental Health indicates that anxiety disorders often manifest with physical symptoms, much like the racing heart and upset stomach described in Jasmine’s story.
Having established the broader context of high-functioning anxiety, it’s crucial to address potential solutions. One therapeutic approach that has shown promise is Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy (CBH).
Why Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy?
The transition from understanding the problem to seeking a solution is a natural progression. After recognizing the challenges posed by high-functioning anxiety, the next logical step is to explore avenues for relief and management. CBH stands out because it combines the evidence-based strategies of cognitive-behavioural therapy with the deep subconscious exploration offered by hypnotherapy. This dual approach addresses both the conscious thought patterns and the underlying subconscious beliefs, making it a comprehensive solution for those grappling with high-functioning anxiety.
In Jasmine’s case, and for many others, understanding the root causes of their anxiety and equipping themselves with tools to challenge negative thought patterns can pave the way for a more balanced and fulfilling life.
The Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy
As a combination of cognitive-behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy (CBH) combines the structured, evidence-based approach of cognitive-behavioural therapy with the deep subconscious exploration of hypnotherapy.
The following are some of the ways that CBH can help individuals with high-functioning anxiety:
Root Causes: By gaining access to the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy can be used to identify the events or beliefs that are causing anxiety.
Challenge Negative Thoughts: CBH provides tools that can be used to identify and reframe negative thought patterns, enabling access to a more positive outlook.
Teach Relaxation Techniques: Hypnotherapy introduces individuals to deep relaxation techniques that provide a respite from their racing thoughts and physical tension.
In order to manage and reduce symptoms, cognitive-behavioural techniques provide actionable strategies.
Self-Worth: Enhancing one’s self-esteem and confidence is a key component of CBH, which alleviates some of the pressures that one places upon oneself.
Do You See Yourself in the Description?
You’re not alone if you recognise yourself in the traits listed above. High-functioning anxiety is more common than you might think. The good news is that it’s manageable, and there’s help available
I spent more than 2 decades in the banking space reaching for a chat using the contacts on the page.
If you’re tired of the constant internal chatter, the sleepless nights, and the relentless pressure, consider exploring Cognitive Behavioral Hypnotherapy. It could be the first step towards finding relief and regaining control over your life. Remember, asking for help is an act of courage and self-care.