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High-Functioning Anxiety in the Workplace

By Nick Tamayo, PR/Media Coordinator, Spring 2020



I saw a hilarious meme the other day that was poking fun at people who have anxiety, but more specifically high-functioning anxiety. The meme got me thinking about what high-functioning anxiety might look like in a workplace setting and how it may affect someone's career. According to happiful.com, people with this type of anxiety aren't usually missing out on life or not reaching their full potential. In fact, it's the opposite of that - they're more likely to "overwork, overthink and over-perform." They enjoy taking on more responsibility, and while they're often some of the top-performing employees and students, they're still struggling with high stress and anxiety on the inside and compensate with more work (so that they don't have time to think about their own problems!)


As a college student with a diagnosed anxiety disorder, talking about mental health is really important to me and I know that many of us (especially students in a deadline-driven agency like Inigo) tend to take on huge workloads and commitments hoping to stand out to future employers or prove to ourselves that we can handle the "grind." While this isn't a clinical disorder, some of us may have it and not even realize it! Here are just three traits that someone with high-functioning anxiety might exhibit in the workplace.


1. Being a perfectionist - We're all guilty of this sometimes, especially if you're working on a passion project. However, if you find yourself unable to turn in assignments because you're looking over something 50 million times and obsessing over small details, it's important to remember to step back and take a breath. This is an anxious habit and is different from being meticulous. Some people will never think that their work is good enough, and at the end of the day, you just need to hit that submit button and move on!


2. Not knowing when to say no- this is something I struggle with a lot. I never want to disappoint people and my instinct is to always say yes to tasks even when I don't know how to do them or don't have the time. Although I usually get those things done, it's only after I've stayed up till ungodly hours of the night finishing it or sacrificing things I do for fun. Instead of taking responsibility for everything at work, people with high-functioning anxiety have to learn how to say no or delegate excessive work to someone else.


3. Being a control freak- it can be infuriating to watch someone screw up on something that you know you can finish easily. However, that's part of life and the learning process and it's important for that person or group to learn from their mistakes instead of you taking the lead on a project and "fixing" everything. Instead, go do something else (literally, go for a walk and cool-down).


Regardless if you think you have high-functioning anxiety or not, you should always remember to take care of yourself and be cognizant of other people's strengths and weaknesses. Whether you're a freshman or recent graduate, just remember: you got this! Everything will work out eventually. Try not to worry about the little things or not being good enough and enjoy yourself! 

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