Anxiety is a problem that the majority of people deal with in one form or another. Yet anxiety is a broad category of disorders which range from generalized anxiety disorder, to social anxiety, to various forms of panic disorders, to mild stress. Keeping in mind, some forms of anxiety are normal, for instance, regular stress can sometimes be beneficial, as it keeps us aware of important things like deadlines and can even motivate us to work hard and excel. However, some forms of anxiety and anxiety disorders are defined as a problem when they begin to interfere with your ability to thrive, achieve your goals, go about daily life and feel well. Some symptoms of anxiety are muscle tension, sleeplessness, worry, agitation, and increased heart rate. Yet some people have a baseline of anxiety that is their normal and they have many coping strategies so that they learn to manage even high levels of anxiety while still managing to function well enough that few people even notice that they are struggling at all. We call this high-functioning anxiety.
Anxiety can be intense, but today I’d like us to learn this difference between stress and high-functioning anxiety. High functioning anxiety is when someone is able to maintain the appearance of calm connectedness by going about their life with the appearance of normalcy, but still the anxiety tends to leak out in subtle ways. Here are three ways to tell if you may have high-functioning anxiety:
- You have a hard time sleeping. When you’re able to internalize your anxiety and hold it together during the day, your anxiety may come out in the form of sleep disturbance. This can include tossing and turning, having trouble falling asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble getting back to sleep.
- You focus on perfection. Self-improvement is great; however striving for perfection can be a result of anxiety. This can create issues when you focus on perfection at work, in personal relationships, or expectations of your physical appearance. Perfectionism is a tell tell sign of high functioning anxiety because an anxious person will tend to try to make things perfect as a tool to decrease their anxiety.
- You can’t relax. When there are too many issues on your mind, you may neglect self-care or not even know how to be calm. Nothing is wrong with staying productive, yet some people use endless projects as a diversion from their feeling of inner anxiety.
- Having difficulty letting go of control. There are several personality types and persons with symptomology whom struggle to let go of control, but this can also be a part of high functioning anxiety.
There are other signs of high functioning anxiety. If you find yourself experiencing this, take some time to engage in self-care or get a mental health assessment. Be intentional about relaxing and find ways to come to terms with not being perfect. Remember that the mind and body are connected, there are many physical and mindfulness exercises as well as breathing strategies that you could try to release some of the stress, and other things like working on your sleep hygiene. Ultimately, if you have any concerns about your level of anxiety you should seek out an assessment with a mental health professional who can help you to determine which parts of your anxiety are normal and which parts might be helped with counseling such as cognitive behavioral therapy.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 26, 2020 health anxiety, hypochondriac, online counseling, pandemic, treatment for anxiety0 comments
Health Anxiety During a Pandemic
Health anxiety is a term which identifies the cluster of behaviors around the physical body and its processes and specifically a preoccupation with preventing or experiencing disease or illness. Some of its symptoms are symptom checking, frequent trips to the doctors office, seeking reassurance that you are not dying or gravely ill. In the matter of weeks, health anxiety, fear and stress have infected the masses. These are certainly frightening times for most and for very good reason, we are faced with a highly contagious and potently lethal virus for which no vaccine or treatment currently exists. Yet, as with all things, the way that we encounter our fear and the way that we manage the new realities that we face has a measurable impact on our well-being and adjustment. It is worth mentioning that there are multiple forms of anxiety which are being inflamed, from health anxiety, to economic anxiety, there is much to fear and while most of us can relate to the fear of being infected with the corona virus, for anyone who has been diagnosed as a hypochondriac, their health anxiety symptoms are likely more inflamed. In general, people are quite emotional right now, the best that we can do is focus on what exactly we can control, by focusing on the sources of our own ability to impact change we find our grace, poise, patience and empowerment. Here are the best tips our wellness experts could compile to manage health and wellness during this pandemic.
Social distancing works, do it. It truly is one of the best ways that we can stop the spread and damaging effects of this virus. When your government starts to enact measures for people to stay away from public places, do it! There are a lot of tempting and exciting events and opportunities which have been temporarily suspended and even cancelled. Accept this with grace, for such drastic measurements to be taken, it is because the dangers are extremely potent. Try to find the silver lining in social distancing, use the time to take up a project, relax, and spend time with loved ones.
Use the extra time that you may have to focus on caring for your body, nourishing yourself with a healthy diet and lots of water, and getting in exercises are some of the best ways we can strengthen our minds, bodies, and immune systems.
Remember, that every cough or sneeze in yourself and others isn’t necessarily related to the pandemic. Of course if you do have the symptoms as indicated by the CDC you should follow their guidelines for gaining treatment and a diagnosis.
Keep your thoughts healthy, be cautious of what you consume with your thoughts. Don’t invest too much time in social media or the news. Generally, these places can created more tension and stress which we should all be focusing on limiting right now.
Try not to catastrophize and instead think measured thoughts. It is easy to go into the deep state of fear and hysterics, notice when you are feeling a high degree of anxiety and work through it with deep breathing and stress reduction techniques. Keep in mind, not every sneeze is Coronavirus and recovery for our bodies and civilization is much more than likely so do your best to remind yourself and others of this reality.
Be mindful to take in non-corona information regularly. Social media, the news media. You do have the ability to choose what you take in, do a meditation with positive affirmations, read a book, or even Netflix when you are noticing that you have seen enough of the C-word for one day. You brain and body will thank you for switching it up.
And, as we all know, wash those hands! That is the medical advice that has every good citizen marching off to the toilet paper isle at their local Costco only to find that everyone else seems to have beat them to it. Hand washing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds at a time is proven to remove viruses from our skins and reduce the spread.
This folks is what we have that we can do while we wait for the most vicious winds of this storm to pass, until there is a proven vaccine, we can focus here, and now, on ourselves, on our breathing, and on caring for ourselves and those around us…
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