Anxiety is that voice in the back of your head that says, “Something unwanted is going to happen.” This is what keeps you awake at 2:00 AM thinking about something gross you did some years ago.
Not every introvert has anxiety, and extroverts and ambiverts might struggle with it, too. To be certain introversion and anxiety are not the same thing. Introversion is a choice for calm, minimally stimulating surrounding and a requirement for alone time to recharge, while anxiety is a usual term for disorders that creates excessive fear, worrying, and nervousness. Still, for several introverts, anxiety is a consistent part of their lives. And actually, anxiety is more common in introverts than extroverts.
At times anxiety is obvious to think of (panic attacks and sweaty palms), but this is not always the case. Several people live with a form named “high-functioning anxiety.” Outwardly, they seem to have it all together. They might even lead very successful lives. No one can think from the outside that they are driven by fear. At times they do not even realize it themselves says Shivani Sadhoo.
Even though not an official diagnosis, high-functioning anxiety is a thing various people identify with. It is closely linked to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which impacts millions of people worldwide. While women are twice as likely to experience it compared to men.
Here, India’s top psychologist Shivani Misri Sadhoo shares some signs of high functioning anxiety.
Here, they are.
You are always prepared
Your mind consistently jumps to the worst-case scenario in any given circumstances. As a result, you might find yourself over-preparing. For instance, you might pack your essentials in both your checked luggage and your carry-on, just in case the airline loses your suitcase. People perceive you as being the reliable one, your preparations mostly do come in handy, but few individuals (if any) realize that your “ready for anything” mentality stems due to anxiety.
You may go berserk inside, but you are unflappable on the outside
Interestingly, several people having high-functioning anxiety do not reveal simply how nervous they are, which is another reason why it is mostly secret anxiety. You perhaps have learned to compartmentalize your emotions.
You continuously feel the urge to be doing something
This could be a real problem if you are an introvert who requires plenty of downtimes to recharge. This does not necessarily mean you are attending plenty of social events; rather, you might feel a compulsion to always be getting things done or remaining on top of things. Remaining busy distracts you from your anxiety and provides you with a sense of control.
You view the world in a fundamentally different manner
Your anxiety is not merely “in your mind.” Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel saw that individuals who are anxious view the world differently than people who are not. In that study, anxious people were less capable to differentiate between a safe stimulus and one that was earlier linked with a threat. In simple words, anxious people overgeneralize their emotional experiences—even when they are not threatening.
You are fearful of disappointing others
You may be a people-pleaser. You are so afraid of allowing others down that you work hard to make everybody around you happy, even if it means sacrificing your own wishes and needs.
You are externally successful
Goal-oriented, organized, detail-oriented, and proactive in planning prior to all possibilities, you might be the picture of success. The issue is, it is never enough. You always feel like you need to be doing more.
You have formed your life around avoidance
You have restricted your world to stop overwhelm. You stick to fixed routines and familiar experiences that provide you a sense of easiness and control; you avoid intense emotional experiences, such as travel, social events, conflict, or anything else that may trigger your anxiety.
You are a perfectionist
You attempt to calm your worries by getting your tasks or your appearance simply right. This could bring positive results, but it comes at an expense. You might have an “everything-or-nothing” mentality (“If I am not the best employee, then I am the worst”). You might have a few unrealistic expectations of yourself, and a catastrophic fear of falling short of them.
You are prone to reflection and overthinking
You do plenty of negative self-talk. You mostly revisualize past mistakes in your mind, dwell on scary “what if” situations, and struggle to enjoy the present moment because you are expecting the worst. Sometimes your mind races and you are not able to stop it.
You experience aches, repetitive habits, and tics
Your anxiety perhaps manifests physically in your body as repeated muscle tension or aches. Similarly, you may unconsciously pick at the skin surrounding your nails, tap your foot, scratch your scalp, or do other repetitive tasks that gets your nervous energy out—even when you seem composed in other ways.
You are always tired
Your mind is repeatedly going on, so you have a problem falling asleep or staying asleep. Even when you sleep well, you feel fatigued during the day because dealing with a continuous underlying level of anxiety is exhausting.