Anxiety is exhausting. I remember when I used to tell my husband, Jeff, that I felt anxious. He’d ask me what was bothering me or what I was worried about, and I couldn’t pinpoint it. I had a good job, no major problems, but that pit in my stomach and that tightness in my chest wouldn’t go away, and I didn’t understand why.
What I’ve learned is that your nervous system functions like a library, holding information. Back then, I lacked the tools to reassure my body that it was safe. Every emotion you experience has a source, even if it’s tucked away in your subconscious. By exploring these causes, our aim is to increase your self-awareness and provide insights into the origins of your anxiety.
High-functioning anxiety can lead to burnout, irritability, digestive issues, sleep problems, low energy levels, and overwhelming feelings. If this resonates with you and you’re determined not to carry this anxiety into 2024, let’s get a handle on what’s going on beneath the surface.
Here are three common reasons you might be experiencing high-functioning anxiety:
1. Upbringing by a Critical Caregiver
During coaching sessions, I frequently ask clients whose voice their inner critic resembles. Often, it’s a critical parent or caregiver. You may have been raised by parents who were driven, highly focused on accomplishments, and quick to praise success. The pressure to excel was a significant influence. It’s crucial to understand that your parents were doing their best with the knowledge and resources they had at the time. High-functioning anxiety might be an unintended consequence of well-meaning parents who wanted the best for you.
2. Stressful Childhood
A challenging childhood can be a root cause of high-functioning anxiety. Growing up in a chaotic environment might have conditioned you to operate in a constant fight-or-flight state. Remember that what feels chaotic to your nervous system may not be the same for others in your family. Stressors could encompass financial worries, inconsistent parental emotions, the need to tread lightly to avoid upsetting caregivers, a tumultuous household, minimal downtime, and high expectations placed upon you. When chaos becomes the norm, the absence of stress may feel uncomfortable, leading to a preference for familiar turmoil over unfamiliar calmness and a tendency to stay busy.
3. Comparing Yourself to Others
Society often bombards us with unrealistic expectations about motherhood, success, appearance, and more. These societal pressures can breed anxiety due to their impracticality. It’s essential to pause and question whether these expectations align with your values and what genuinely matters to you.
We often play one of two games: the outside-in game, where we strive to meet external expectations, or the inside-out game, where we focus on our core values and priorities. Stuck in the outside-in game, stress remains a constant companion.
What Can You Do?
- Find a sustainable pace for yourself; it’s perfectly acceptable to slow down.
- Identify your priorities and core values to guide your decision-making.
- Intentionally shift from an outside-in mindset to an inside-out approach.
- Prioritize the “Big 3”: more stillness, more movement, and more play.
If you’re ready to take control and leave high-functioning anxiety behind in 2023, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for guidance. We’re opening up two more spots for 1:1 coaching sessions between now and January. Once those slots are filled, we won’t be offering 1:1 sessions until 2024. You can book a 30-minute, FREE discovery call to discuss your experiences and explore how coaching can support you.
Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. You have the power to rewrite your story, becoming the healthiest mom for your children and the best partner for your loved ones.
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