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The Cost of Just Getting By

getting by guilt high-functioning anxiety mindfulness thrive Sep 11, 2022
The Cost of just getting by Blog 28: 4 ways to respond to high-functioning anxiety so you can thrive instead

"I'm hanging in there."

How often do you find yourself celebrating this state of being? Indeed, 'getting by' is better than struggling or despairing, but the long-term effects of just getting by may surprise you.

The three most prominent effects are fatigue, discontentment, and burnout. And if these words hit home, you may struggle with high-functioning anxiety. These are the trifecta for someone who experiences this type of anxiety. High-functioning anxiety isn't a clinical diagnosis. It's unhealthy but often goes unnoticed because those suffering from it are "getting by." They often look like they're doing quite well. They have a successful job, home, personal life, and more, but there is serious unrest under the surface.

The fatigue experienced by someone with high-functioning anxiety isn't one easily cured by a nap. The struggle is more profound because it's hard to rest even when in a prone position on a couch. The fatigue comes from a lack of rest or guilt when you sleep. There are seven main types of rest: active rest, passive rest, social rest, spiritual rest, sensory rest, emotional rest, and creative rest, as described by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith in her book Sacred Rest. However, when anxious, it's hard to truly rest in any of these aspects of life. It's most often tricky due to feelings of guilt. The guilt comes from a fear that the image will be shattered if you don't keep producing and achieving. Achievement is tied to self-worth, so if our productivity reduces, it increases anxiety. Although REST is productive (read more about it in Blog Post #16), the anxious mind doesn't see it this way but instead focuses on how rest keeps you from being active.

When life looks fantastic on a resume, it's hard to acknowledge feelings of discontentment. However, individuals experiencing high-functioning anxiety are often very disappointed under the surface. There is a disconnect between what others see on the surface and how they truly feel. This gap leads to feelings of being unseen and unheard because their authentic selves become hidden. It's also not often socially acceptable to "complain" or discuss dissatisfaction if you have specific achievements in life. It can feel selfish as well.

Burnout shows up after prolonged exposure to stress. Suppressing the discontent and not allowing you to rest results in increased pressure. As a result, you can feel burnt out by your own life. Hanging in there paints a picture of fingers curled over the edge, barely hanging on, which is often described as burnout. Burnout affects many of our executive functions, but one of the biggest is mental clarity. It can show as mental fog and a general lack of interest in life.

So just getting by when indeed examined paints a bleak picture of life. However, there are specific ways to respond to high-functioning anxiety, so you are no longer getting by but genuinely thriving in life. It all starts by knowing you are whole and complete exactly as you are. You don't need to prove anything to anyone. You don't need to check everything off your to-do list. And you certainly don't need to do everything perfectly.

Here are four ways you can cope with High functioning anxiety so you no longer feel like you're just getting by.

Remember your strengths
I can guarantee you don't even realize you have many incredible strengths. Practice making a list of your strengths and identify your unique qualities. If this is hard for you, ask for help from someone you trust.

Practice Self-compassion
Speak to yourself as you would to a friend. If you wouldn't say it to a friend, then do not allow yourself to say it internally.

Take notice of your body.
It's so easy to push through the signs your body gives you that it's time to rest. These signs can look like: tiredness, headaches, muscle tension, hunger, difficult emotions like anxiety, irritability, frustration, difficulty concentrating, and more.

Practice mindfulness
Imagine sitting by a stream, and on that stream are fallen leaves floating by you. Every thought pops into your mind; visualize placing it on a leaf and watching it continue to float downstream. It doesn't matter what type of thought you're experiencing. Just try to imagine it on the leaf while you let it go.

If you incorporate these four tips into your life, you'll no longer just be getting by. You'll feel in control of your high-functioning anxiety and be able to live life with more joy. Intentionally taking care of ourselves physically and mentally has a widespread benefit for our lives. So get ready to thrive!

What would you say if I told you that spending 5 minutes per day supporting your mental wellness could improve your gut health? And 5 minutes per day helping your gut health could improve your mental health?


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