The most common illness in the United States today, it is estimated that approximately 40 million adults experience an anxiety disorder every year. Of those, a large number will not only struggle with their anxiety, but it will be further complicated by their introvert tendencies.

The first key to managing your anxiety is to recognize the ways that it is working in your life. If you are also an introvert, this may present itself slightly different than an extrovert or ambivert due to your tendency to stay to yourself and avoid too much social interaction. Managing your mental health doesn’t mean that you need to start packing your social calendar full of every party and social gathering that happens around you, but it does mean finding a balance between your natural tendencies and the things that you need to do to promote happiness and joy in your life.

Here are 17 signs that you are an introvert living with high-functioning anxiety:

#1 – You appear successful in all that you do.

Your anxiety drives you to be hard-working, detail-oriented and determined to come out ahead. This ultimately results in you succeeding in anything that you put our mind to, excelling in your career, dominating in your hobbies and creating the impression that there is nothing you can’t succeed at. What others don’t see is that no accomplishment is ‘enough’ in your mind, with your eyes always on the next challenge.

#2 – You feel tired and drained all the time – physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted.

Life with anxiety takes a lot out of you, constantly worried about the way that things could go wrong, living in ‘fight or flight’ mode every moment of every day, battling the negative voices in your mind. While you may appear to manage this all throughout the day, it takes a lot out of you leaving you feeling completely drained and exhausted all the time.

#3 – You live your life in fear of disappointing those around you.

You are so afraid of letting others down that you will go to great lengths to keep everyone else happy, even if it means making sacrifices in your own life. You’re a people pleaser. It’s important to remember that your own happiness and needs are also important in life.

#4 – You appear to remain calm in the face of danger.

One of the reasons that this is referred to as ‘high-functioning’ anxiety is the fact that you don’t show the rest of the world just how nervous you actually are. Instead, you keep your anxiety hidden, putting on a brave face so that it appears you are able to truly stay calm in the face of danger, while your fear festers within.

#5 – You desire to be in control of everything.

It’s not that you necessarily even want the control, but you are so afraid of things going wrong that you are afraid to hand it over to anyone else. By controlling every situation, you can do your best to protect you from potential failure while avoiding the possible unknowns that you may have to face along the way.

#6 – You resort to chatter when you’re feeling nervous.

While you are an introvert, your nervous habits may lead others to question this. Why? When you find yourself feeling overly nervous and anxiety-ridden, you will start to talk aimlessly. There is no point to your chatter, you’re just talking to fill the silence.

#7 – You experience your anxiety physically through aches, pains, and unconscious habits.

Anxiety is a mental illness, but it can impact your life in a very physical way. For some, anxiety will manifest itself as aches and pains throughout the body, or feelings of tension and discomfort. For others, anxiety will lead to physical responses, unconscious habits like playing with your hair, biting your nails or tapping your foot.

#8 – You’re always prepared for anything that life throws your way.

Your anxiety causes you to always consider the absolute worst possibility for every situation that you face, which may not always present itself in a bad way. With this worse-case scenario in the back of your mind, you will go to great lengths to prepare for it which leads others to see you as overly organized and responsible in life. Whatever happens, you’re ready for it.

#9 – You are easily startled.

Anxiety causes you to live your life always on edge, waiting for the next thing that could possibly go wrong. This causes you to overreact at times to even the littlest things, fearing the worst. This can cause you to react to an overly loud door slam, the honk of a horn or other ‘normal’ sounds that the average person wouldn’t necessarily even notice.

#10 – You go out of your way to avoid conflict.

Rather than dealing with situations of conflict and discomfort in your life, you go out of your way to avoid them entirely. This can lead to missing out on great things in life including social events and gatherings, relationships, travel and career opportunities. Even if you believe these situations may bring you joy in life, the fear of conflict is too great.

#11 – You struggle with the idea of taking true downtime.

When you are still, this gives your anxiety the opportunity to take over your thoughts – one of the situations that you fear most. Instead, you keep yourself busy to maintain control, pushing your anxiety aside. This is difficult for you, however, due to the fact that you are an introvert at heart. You require a certain amount of downtime in order to rest and recharge. Finding that balance is an ongoing struggle.

#12 – You struggle with maintaining a regular sleep schedule.

With your negative thoughts constantly running through your mind, and the incredible stress and worry that you experience day in and day out, you struggle with maintaining a regular sleep schedule. You often find yourself up at night thinking through the errors of the day, and the worries of the days to come.

#13 – You overthink your past, refusing to let it go.

One of the reasons that you struggle so much with negative thinking is your inability to let go of past mistakes. You continually look back at those moments, replaying what you did and every other possibility that you could have taken at the time. This often prevents you from truly living life today as you can’t let go of the past long enough to enjoy the present.

#14 – You see and experience life in a different way than others.

Researchers have discovered that people living with anxiety overgeneralize the emotions that they are feeling, struggling to identify ‘safe’ situations. Instead, they assign fear both to situations that would warrant it in the eyes of other participants, but also to situations that may have previously been considered a threat. This view of life leaves them feeling fear and anxiety far more often than the average person.

#15 – You live your life with a constant level of stress.

While stress may come and go in most people’s lives, there is never a ‘stress-free’ moment for you. Even the smallest situations and struggles can send your system into hyperdrive, leaving you frustrated, and easily irritated. With no time to fully recover, this is an ongoing struggle.

#16 – You are a complete perfectionist.

You believe that the one way to relieve yourself of your anxiety is to ensure that everything you do in life is perfect at all costs. You set impossibly high expectations, refusing to settle for anything less even if it means making great sacrifices or changes. This robs you of the joy and happiness you could be experiencing, focusing too much on the things that need to be corrected or improved upon in every moment.

#17 – You keep your social circle small.

It’s not that you don’t enjoy spending time with others, but you find that keeping your social circle smaller will help you to avoid drama and unnecessary stress. You are incredibly selective about who you trust to bring into your world, careful to keep your safety at the front of your mind. If anyone gives you any reason to distrust them, you simply walk away without confrontation or discussion (after all, you avoid conflict).

Image via RWC News

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