High-functioning anxiety is often called “secret” anxiety because the people who experience it are able to keep it internalised. If you’re an introvert, this type of anxiety could potentially disconnect you from the people who care about you, causing you to withdraw further inside your shell.
While introverts are often perceived as people who want to be alone, this is not always the case. Introverts require human connection and relationships, just like extroverts, but they aren’t energised by social interactions in the same way that extroverts are. Introverts often need quiet time to reflect and recharge as they tend to lose energy as a result of engaging in social activities, such as attending parties and working in open-plan environments.
So, how can you tell if you’re an introvert with high-functioning anxiety?
We’ve shared 15 possible signs below
1 | You prepare for the worst
You’re always ready for bad things to happen because you’ve planned out how to respond in detail. People often see you as quiet, reliable and organised, but the truth is you are usually over-prepared and stressed.
2 | You avoid going out of your comfort zone
In an attempt to avoid overwhelm and more anxiety, you stay within your comfort zone. You might say no to new experiences (like social events, travel and work opportunities) and you worry that if you stray from your norm, you might fail.
3 | You hide your true feelings
You work hard to stifle your anxiety, but this also means you tend to suppress other emotions and thoughts and people may find you difficult to read. You perceive some feelings as “negative”, like stress, anger, frustration and irritability and you try to hide those emotions away. You’re afraid that if your true feelings come out, you’ll be alienated and unloved.
4 | You might have nervous habits
You may tap your foot, pick your skin, play with your hair, or crack your knuckles. These nervous habits tend to occur more when you’re feeling particularly anxious.
5 | You have a tendency to ruminate
You think about problems repetitively, trying to find solutions (even when there are no real solutions). Your mind replays past mistakes and dwells on things which can’t be changed, particularly when they involve social interactions and other people’s opinions of you.
6 | You engage in negative self-talk
Your internal dialogue is regularly critical, self-deprecating and discouraging. The person you are hardest on is yourself.
7 | You’re always busy
In an effort to suppress your anxiety, you feel the need to stay busy. Other people may even compliment you for all the things you get done (which only positively reinforces your need to achieve).
8 | You experience sleep difficulties
Because your mind is always racing, you find it difficult to switch off at night. You might experience insomnia, trouble falling asleep and wake up often during the night.
9 | You wear a mask of calm
On the outside, you appear calm and collected because you’ve mastered the art of hiding your anxiety.
10 | Your anxiety might manifest in physical ways
You may experience tension headaches, skin rashes, chest pains or an upset stomach. You may lose weight quickly, or gain weight. There are many physical symptoms of anxiety which you may regularly experience, including heart palpitations, sweating, a feeling of dread, rapid breathing, or difficulty concentrating.
11 | You can’t say no
The thought of disappointing someone is so unpleasant to you that you would rather agree to take on more than you can handle than say no. You work hard to make everyone happy with you because otherwise, you’ll worry they won’t think as highly of you (or you’re afraid they’ll talk about you behind your back). If you really need to say no, you’d prefer to make up an excuse.
12 | You find it difficult to be flexible when plans change
When you’ve planned things so meticulously, you tend to feel a spike in anxiety when plans change at the last minute. You find it really difficult to “go with the flow” and you get frustrated by people who aren’t reliable.
13 | You seek perfection
Pushing yourself to get everything perfectly right is one way you try to manage your anxiety. You believe that perfection will allow you to feel satisfied and to move forward without regrets or criticism.
14 | You crave control
When you feel in control, you usually experience some relief from your anxiety. Therefore, you continue seeking to gain control more and more; over your routines, what you eat, what you watch, where you go, who you spend time with and what you do. While it can help you feel like you’re in charge of your life, whenever you don’t have control you tend to feel helpless.
15 | You never feel like you’ve done enough
At the end of the day, you could do your absolute best and achieve wonderful things, but it would still never feel like enough. There’s always something to improve, someone else to please, or an imperfection to fix.
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Rachael Kable is a passionate mindfulness mentor, blogger and host of her top-rated podcast, The Mindful Kind. When she’s not writing or helping women create meaningful mindfulness practices, you’ll find Rachael cuddling her fun-loving pooch, stretching out on her yoga mat or enjoying delicious coffee. Connect with Rachael at her online home, www.rachaelkable.com