People with high-functioning anxiety disorder may appear successful, high-achieving, and organized, but no one sees the negative thoughts and fears that run their daily lives. Often, it’s a fear of failure that launches their “success” in the first place. While “high-functioning anxiety” is not technically a clinical disorder, it is considered to be a mild version of a disorder called “general anxiety.” Common signs, according to Vertava Health, may include:

  • Constantly overthinking and overanalyzing
  • Excessive worrying
  • Striving for perfection
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble relaxing
  • Fear of failure
  • Trouble expressing emotions
  • Fatigue
  • Need to please others
  • Problems saying no
  • Tendency to dwell on past mistakes
  • Racing heart in anticipation of anxiety-inducing events
  • Nervous habits (shaking leg, playing with hair, biting nails

The good news is that there are many ways to cope with high-functioning anxiety to bring peace to your life.

Counteract catastrophizing

To begin, you can learn to recognize “catastrophizing.” According to Verywell Mind, catastrophizing is “taking an event you are concerned about and blowing it out of proportion to the point of becoming fearful.”  The next time you have a stressful thought that makes it feels like the world might end, take time to put it into perspective. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being nuclear war and 1 being you forgot to close the refrigerator door, where does the event actually fall?

Then, learn to replace it with helpful thoughts. Instead of “I’m an idiot for presenting wrong data in the meeting. We’re going to lose that client and I’m going to get fired,” step back and relabel the severity. Find calming words, such as, “Everyone makes mistakes now and then. I’m good at my job, and this is not the end of the world. I’ll apologize, and my boss won’t fire me.”

Have a mantra in your back pocket

When a negative thought arises, mantras can also be soothing. You’ll want to create one that is meaningful to you, memorize it, and repeat as often as necessary. Amy Marlow, blogger and author of Blue Light Blue, says some of her favorites are:

  • “Who I am right now is good enough for me.”
  • “I am doing my best.”
  • “I am not perfect and I love myself for who I am.”
  • “I deserve to take good care of myself.”

Get out of your head

People living with high-functioning anxiety spend much of their time in the head. Refuse to let your head be more important than your body, and negative thoughts will begin to loosen their grip. There are several ways to engage your body to reduce anxiety:

  • Learn deep breathing techniques. Here are eight different techniques; pick one that sounds most relaxing and comfortable to you.
  • Practice mindfulness. Here are 14 ways to practice mindfulness from HealthLine. The next time you’re at a stop light, see if you can incorporate tip #12.
  • Practice meditation. The Mayo Clinic says that “meditation is good medicine” and explains the different types in this article. If you’re new to the idea and want to be guided, these are “The 6 Best Guided Mediations,” from Verywell Mind.
  • Practice relaxation. Take hot baths with Epsom salt or scented oils, or drink herbal (not caffeinated) teas like chamomile.
  • Exercise. Even stretching at your desk, or taking a 10-15 minute walk during the day will help. Harvard Health outlines a number of benefits and says “getting your heart rate up changes brain chemistry, increasing the availability of important anti-anxiety neurochemicals, including serotonin.”
  • Practice yoga. There are many types of yoga. To start, here’s a 15 minute video from HealthLine, specifically designed to relive anxiety.

Work with a professional

While many of these ideas can help, sometimes the best solution is professional care. Through KeenanDirect, you can purchase health insurance and find a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety. They can help you through cognitive behavior therapy (a form of talk therapy) and will know when to prescribe medicines that could help. Please visit or call 1-855-653-3626 to connect with one of our helpful licensed agents and find the right doctor or therapist. You’ll be on your way to discovering a new and gentler way to interact with yourself and the world!