A few weeks ago, we talked about stress and how it is affecting our bodies and ways to work through it. This week, we are diving into anxiety and how you may be living with High Functioning Anxiety and not even know it, and ways to work through it so that it doesn’t take over your life! Anxiety can cripple us, and sometimes we have no idea where to even start in working through it or treating it at all, so I brought on Dr. Laura Gouge onto this week’s podcast to help answer tons of questions that I have that I think you, the listeners, will have as well!
Dr. Laura Gouge is a licensed Naturopathic physician and she strives to create a holistic, innovative, and thoughtful treatment plan for each patient.
When you think of anxiety, we think it is like what is on tv with a massive heart attack and not being able to function, falling to the ground with a panic attack all day every day. But that is not always the case! People have some level of fear and anxiety daily. Some people struggle with it more severely than others. And some push through their days with never stopping because they have High Functioning Anxiety, and this can completely burn them out!
How do you define High Functioning Anxiety’
We want to look at anxiety as a spectrum. 100% of us have experienced anxiety at some point because it is a normal emotion!! We have fears and worries about what if something goes wrong. And it can be normal, say you have a big flight, or an interview etc. That would be towards the lower part of the spectrum.
Towards the higher end of that spectrum would be the more severe pathological anxiety disorders where someone is having an impairment in the quality of their life and the symptoms are severe enough that it causes a problem in their life. These would be diagnosable anxiety disorders.
Then there is high functioning anxiety. This is somewhere around the middle of the spectrum. It does not necessarily have a medical diagnosis but it’s very common and a lot of people don’t even know that they are living with this. So here is a list of some of the traits with High Functioning Anxiety.
Type A type personality
Very cool calm and put together
Often are going to be early, helpful, charming, talkative
Say yes when they mean no. People pleaser
Underneath that exterior, often people are racked with tension and worry and most people in their life don’t know they have this
Adult temper tantrum. Have a breakdown if one thing goes wrong and you just have a breakdown. A lot of times there is anxiety underneath that.
May not get enough sleep
Slow burn of anxiety under the surface all day long.
You are going to be dripping out stress hormones all day long so you may have more frequent tension headaches, or stomach and digestive issues
Can you have one with the other’ (Stress and anxiety)
As you can see, there are a lot of overlaps in stress and anxiety symptoms. And both can cause short term issues (insomnia) and lead to more long-term issues. (High blood pressure, heart disease.) But yes, you can have them separately because a lot of us have stress. But we see the overlap because a lot of us tend to us the wrong words when defining what we are experiencing.
We may feel anxious, but it is manifesting from an external stressor. And for most people, stress is something external. Something is causing you to make every action.
Where anxiety is not always our fault. Our brain is wired in a specific way. I am taking something and giving meaning to it that I am not doing XYZ. We all have different thresholds of anxiety because it is our body responding to certain things and certain situations. And like with stress this is where mindset can help with anxiety as well.
Our mindset is so huge. We have to meet those catastrophe thoughts with curiosity.
And just asking ourselves, Is this really true, what other possibilities can happen here
Remind ourselves of all the good things that can happen! And I know that it is easier for us to believe the negative instead of the positive, we are all human. But we have to continue to tell ourselves good positive thoughts when in these situations.
I want you to think of mental health like fitness in so many ways. We are never done. We need to get into a balance, then we need to maintain balance!
As a doctor, my goal is that my patients don’t need me anymore. But there will always be a maintenance level and they will have to come back for that maintenance.
We may start to get out of balance and that is such an important thing to remember. Because again, we are human! And humans are not perfect, and we need to continue to work on ourselves as we get older. So often with our mindset we think, oh no we are back sliding and get perfectionistic. And we can’t do that. We have to say the pendulum will swing and it’s my job to get back into balance! And you can get this by working with a coach or a doctor, or whoever can help you with these feelings!
How can I start to just relax?’
Listen no one has felt better with anxiety being told to just relax! But there are ways that we can work through and master our stress and anxiety and those are the 6 M.s! These 6 M.s will look at 6 areas that are worked on with Laura.
Mindset – awareness of when we are spiraling with anxiety and stress. Refrain with curiosity and explanation.
Mindfulness – goes with mindset.
Macronutrients – are we making sure people are getting adequate protein, carbs, fiber, right types of fat. And Micronutrition – some may be experiencing poor stress and anxiety.
Movement – how we move our bodies. Is it serving us’ Is it too little or too much’ Find the right movement for you.
Mastering daily habits – look at how we are spending our time and tending to our self-care. Are we getting outdoors and creating relationships that are meaningful to us’
Medicine – working with a coach or doctor, and that can be anywhere from supplements to pharmaceutical medications. In addition to these 6 M,s, Laura also recommends coaching and therapy as well.
Life moves through these things. We are all in different seasons in our life. Apply acceptance to those different seasons and situations and give yourself grace as you are moving through these steps and moving through this season in your life. By doing this, our lives would be less stressful. Accepting something doesn’t mean you have to love it; you just have to say this is how it is right now. And that it may not always be this way.
Define what the other side looks like.. This can be so difficult when you are in the moment, and it may never get better especially with our mental health. It’s not like one day anxiety just disappears. Gradual transition of more sunny days, more days of honoring my appetite (if you are stressing overeating, etc.) See a progressive improvement but still may be backslides. That is ok. But see more and more until all of a sudden you haven’t done something in 6 months! Or this stressful thing happened, and I am fine with it when it did occur!
And you know what Keep showing up. It can feel scary if we don’t get results right away but keep trying and moving forward and I know you will get there. One step at a time! It is ok to feel stuck but keep looking towards the other side and continue to work on yourself!
I am stuck in High Functioning Anxiety but know that I have to do 500 things and it has to be A++. How do I even get started if this sounds like someone listening’ Or if I want to get started’
Start with.. DO I WANT IT TO BE DIFFERENT’ Why am I choosing this’ A simple question that can be helpful if you are that person doing 1 million things. Not HOW do I manage my time better. But WHAT is my relationship to rest in space’ As a society, we felt for so long that we had to earn rest and we didn’t have the right to it. It’s a myth that we will always be all caught up on everything. There is always something. But guess what, if we did get caught up we would feel tremendous anxiety not knowing what to do!
We can set little deadlines for ourselves to maximize what we are doing. By doing this, we can have it all, just not every single day! I know you are going to shake your head yesss when you read this, but so often as women we try to do too much! So, it is no wonder why you are overwhelmed, you aren’t sitting down and focusing on one thing.
We don’t give ourselves time for a single task. We feel that is not enough. It is where our culture has really programmed us to think it’s not enough and that we have to move at this speed. So, you have to reprogram how we defined productivity for ourselves and what kind of quality of life we wanted to have.
How do you define PRODUCTION!!!
I always used to say how do you define success When we define productivity, we can ask ourselves if we really want to do this. You can give yourself permission to say no!
Do I want to say yes to this, or do I want to say no to this’ Is this serving me’ Is this serving them’ Do I still want to do this’ And guess what NO is a complete sentence!
Ladies, your anxiety can affect your health. High blood pressure, weight gain, insomnia, plus more! And it can go on for years. Because chronic stress is linked to a lot of things as we get older and will be a risk factor for most health problems. So if you feel like you may be living with High Functioning Anxiety, don’t think that you do not need help because it’s just not that bad.. Get help before it gets worse, or your health becomes affected by it. Get help before that slow burn turns into a complete burn out!
It is how you are choosing for life to be. You have to know where we are, and every day cannot be summer or everyday can’t be a high alert day. You will have days So, think about those places where you identify and what you are choosing. What are you choosing’ Are you choosing to continue with this life’ Or are you going to choose for it to be different’
I want you to have your BEST LIFE!!
You can do different things and you can choose to do it differently in a way that is best for you!
If you are feeling like you can relate totally to this, reach out to Dr. Laura on socials and through her website! This is what she does, this is her jam, and she is amazing at what she does and I truly believe that she can help you!
What makes you feel magical”
When I’m able to sit down with someone and we can together just hone in on what’s bothering the most and be able to help them with that. This makes me feel magical every single time someone comes in and says, Oh my god, I’m sleeping through the night again or my IBS is gone, or my anxiety is zero or I haven’t had a panic attack in a year! I feel magical every time that I’m able to help someone with any of those things!
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Reboot and Refocus