Managing High-Functioning Anxiety: 7 Unexpected Symptoms You Should Know About

High-functioning individuals often appear to have their lives together, with impeccable organization skills and a calm demeanour. They’re always on time, remember important dates, and can be counted on to get things done. But beneath the surface, high-functioning anxiety can wreak havoc on their emotional wellbeing. I frequenty help people with anxiety using hypnotherapy, click here for details.


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Managing High-Functioning Anxiety: 7 Unexpected Symptoms


Despite putting up a front of calmness, individuals with high-functioning anxiety are plagued by constant worry and fear. They’re like swans, serene on the surface but struggling to keep afloat below the waterline. Fortunately, high-functioning anxiety is treatable, and individuals with this condition can use their high-performing nature to take action and feel better. In this article, we’ll explore seven surprising symptoms of high-functioning anxiety and how to handle them, as an anxiety therapist, I have first-hand experience with this condition.


You have excessive worry about the future


People with high-functioning anxiety often find themselves consumed by worries about the future. They may be afraid of failure or constantly fretting about what could go wrong in any given situation. This kind of worrying can cause feelings of helplessness and interfere with daily life, pulling individuals out of the present moment. Physical symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a racing heart, and tightness in the chest may also arise.

In the past, I also used to believe that worrying could somehow prevent bad things from happening. However, it’s important to recognize that worrying does not change the future. No amount of worrying will stop it from raining on your wedding day, for instance.

If you find yourself spiralling into an anxiety-inducing worry, it may be helpful to ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to take action and regain control. If so, take a small step toward that goal. If not, try visualizing yourself letting go of the worry, perhaps by taking off a heavy backpack or releasing a balloon into the sky.


High-functioning anxiety and unneeded perfectionism


Perfectionism can have both positive and negative effects on our lives. While it can motivate us to strive for excellence in our work and hobbies, it can also lead to overwhelming anxiety and a fear of failure. As someone who struggles with perfectionism myself, I understand how difficult it can be to find a balance between seeking improvement and maintaining personal well-being.

One of the downsides of perfectionism is the tendency to procrastinate or avoid tasks altogether. This is often due to the fear of not being able to complete them to our high standards, which can lead to feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. Breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks can be helpful in overcoming procrastination and getting started on projects.

Another common pitfall of perfectionism is people-pleasing, which can cause us to neglect our own needs and desires in favour of seeking the approval of others. At work, this can be linked to imposter syndrome. Learning to assert our own needs and communicate them effectively is crucial in overcoming people-pleasing tendencies.

To overcome perfectionism, it’s important to tune into our own inner compass and be clear in our communication with others. Remembering that our needs and wants are valid and taking care of ourselves first can ultimately lead to greater success and fulfilment in all aspects of life.


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Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword, as it can lead to both quality work and overwhelming anxiety. As someone who frequently strives for perfection in my writing and hobbies, I really do understand the pressure that comes with this, often crippling, mindset. However, it’s crucial to find balance by seeking improvement without sacrificing personal well-being. I remind myself often that perfection is subjective and that it’s essential to ask whether something is good enough for a reasonable person.

Being a perfectionist is often seen as a positive trait, but it can also lead to a lot of stress and anxiety. If you’re always striving for perfection, you may find yourself setting unrealistic goals and feeling like a failure when you can’t meet them. This can be especially true if you’re a high achiever or have been praised for your accomplishments in the past.

To overcome perfectionism, it’s important to recognize that no one is perfect, and that’s okay. It’s also essential to set realistic goals for yourself and celebrate your accomplishments, even if they’re not exactly what you had envisioned.


You procrastinate


Procrastination is a common problem that can arise from perfectionism. High-functioning individuals with anxiety may struggle to begin tasks, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about how to tackle them perfectly. Anxiety can also interfere with focus and concentration, making starting even more challenging.

Procrastination may provide temporary relief from pressure, but it can exacerbate stress in the long run. To combat procrastination, I recommend breaking tasks into manageable chunks, starting with the first step, and committing to doing it quickly and imperfectly. It’s easier to manage smaller tasks, and taking action can give a sense of accomplishment and momentum.


You’re a people pleaser


People-pleasing can be a tough habit to kick, especially if your self-worth is closely tied to the approval of others. You may have been raised to be a ‘good girl’ or ‘good boy’, and find it difficult to say no. Unfortunately, this can lead to neglecting your own needs and desires, growing resentful or even burning out.

To overcome people-pleasing, it’s important to know what you want and have the courage to communicate that effectively to others. Practicing tuning into your ‘inner compass’ can help you identify what’s a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ for you. Once you have a clear understanding of your own needs and wants, it’s important to communicate them assertively and respectfully to others. This can also be difficult if you’re not used to advocating for yourself. Practicing clear communication, using “I” statements, and making requests rather than demands can help. Additionally, when explaining what you need to others, try making a statement of the facts and then a request, as this can help you express your needs and wants more effectively.

Remember that taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, and you don’t need to sacrifice your own well-being to make others happy. By valuing your own needs and desires, you can actually be more effective in your relationships and better able to give to others.


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High-functioning anxiety can lead you to be a control freak


Being ‘in control’ can be a great trait to have, but it can become a problem when the need for control causes stress and anxiety or upsets others. Recognizing where you feel the need to control things and where that might come from can help you move forward and take back control of your life. It’s important to remember that the more we try to control things, the less in control we feel, and that it’s helpful to step into a reasonable person’s shoes and assess the situation.


You’re always on the go


Being constantly on the go can make for an exciting life, but it can also present unique challenges. It’s important to make thoughtful decisions about where and how you allocate your energy and when to rest or slow down. Prioritizing what matters most and building in ‘white space’ into your schedule can help preserve your physical and mental health. It’s also essential to allow yourself adequate rest and take breaks away from chaos to maintain clarity of mind.


High-functioning anxiety can result in trouble sleeping


high-functioning anxiety can cause pressure and worries that keep your mind buzzing at bedtime, leading to a lack of restful sleep. This can take a toll on your physical and mental health, leading to a vicious cycle of more anxiety and worse sleep. Improving your sleep hygiene, experimenting with sleep aids, and talking to your doctor about possible treatments or lifestyle changes can help improve your quality of sleep. Prioritizing an early bedtime and reading a novel before bed can also help your brain switch off. Remember, there are ways to change your anxious tendencies for the better, and it’s okay to seek help if needed.




It’s important to recognize that high-functioning anxiety isn’t just about being productive or successful, but it’s a real and serious issue that can have negative impacts on our mental and physical health. The good news is that there are steps we can take to manage our anxiety and build healthy habits.

Some strategies include seeking professional help, practicing self-care, challenging our negative thoughts, setting realistic expectations, and cultivating supportive relationships. It’s also important to remember that recovery is a journey, and it’s okay to take things one step at a time.

In the end, managing high-functioning anxiety is about finding a balance between achieving our goals and taking care of ourselves. It’s about acknowledging our struggles and working towards positive change. By implementing these strategies and building healthy habits, we can learn to thrive with high-functioning anxiety and live our best lives.





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Jason Demant Clinical Hypnotherapist
London hypnotherapist. Seeing clients in King's Cross and online. Diploma in clinical hypnotherapy, counselling and Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) from Life Matters Training College, based on Harley Street, London. Fully insured and a validated practitioner of the General Hypnotherapy Standards Council and member of the General Hypnotherapy Register.