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5 Steps to Stop Overthinking for High-Achievers

PEACE with Anxiety Podcast Episode 18

Ep 18: How to Stop Overthinking in 5 Steps as a High-Achiever

Are you a hardworking professional or are you a graduate student who is feeling overworked, like no matter what you do, it's just not enough, have difficulty disconnecting from your work or struggle with procrastination? If you said yes, then I would recommend grabbing some sort of notebook or maybe opening up a document on your phone or computer so that you can take some notes of these tips and information that I will be sharing with you in this episode as we will be covering how to stop overthinking and calm your mind so that you can finally see yourself as the amazing person that you are. To still be who you are which is an ambitious high-achieving woman but still feel calm, confident and present in the moment. 

Listen as I talk about:

  • Who is the high-achiever

  • How does high-functioning anxiety show up in high-achievers

  • The root cause of high-functioning anxiety

  • 5 Steps to Stop Overthinking

Click play to listen below:

Chronic stress and anxiety result in reduced cognitive function and overall performance. However, many high-achieving professionals whether they realise it or not, believe that they perform at their best only when they are under stress.

Who is the anxious high-achiever?

Well, I would describe someone as an anxious high achiever if they are ambitious and high performing and appear calm, put together and successful to others. However, on the inside, they feel overwhelmed, they are overthinking, they have difficulty saying no to others and no matter how much they do “which more often than not is quite a lot”, they never feel satisfied that it is enough!

How does High-functioning Anxiety show up in high achievers?

So let’s talk for a moment about these two very different sides of being an anxious high-achiever, because they tend to experience what is called "high-functioning anxiety". High-functioning anxiety is not a clinical term, and therefore there isn't a medical diagnosis but those who struggle with high-functioning anxiety present with the following characteristics.

On the outside:

  • very hardworking,

  • high-achieving,

  • having big goals,

  • Perfectionist,

  • paying very close attention to details to make sure everything runs smoothly,

  • very organised,

  • well prepared for every possible scenario, but even if something unexpected were to happen, you would seem to be doing very well under the stress,

  • appear calm and collected.

On the inside:

  • unrealistic expectations of themselves,

  • tendency to overthink everything, to feel prepared,

  • self-doubt,

  • feeling overwhelmed by the amount of responsibilities they take over,

  • need to be busy,

  • inability to relax,

  • feeling rushed and under stress is normal,

  • trouble saying no to others, which can result in people-pleasing behaviours.

  • terrified of failure,

  • on the verge of physical, emotional or mental burnout.

  • Do you want to feel in control of your thoughts and feelings,

  • Do you want to learn why you feel the way you do,

  • Do you want to change your anxious thoughts naturally,

  • Do you want to learn to say no without feeling guilty,

  • Do you want to calm your racing mind that doesn’t let you go to sleep,

  • Do you want to feel calm, confident and present?

If you want to understand what is getting in your way of healing from anxiety, what to do about your anxious thoughts, feelings and actions using evidence-based techniques, a 5-minute exercise that is going to help to instantly reduce anxiety naturally, and finally the ultimate framework to effectively ease anxiety. Then I would invite you to join the Peace with Anxiety workshop!

The Root Cause of High-Functioning Anxiety

So, what can you do to calm your mind? The way to stop high-functioning anxiety is actually getting to the root cause of it. With anxiety most commonly fear is the associated feeling that drives your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. That fear can take many forms such as:

fear of making mistakes, of doing or saying the wrong thing,

fear of uncertainty and the unknown so worrying about what could happen in the future,

fear of judgment, or unworthiness which can make you people-please to avoid disappointing others,

and ultimately fear of not being good enough, smart enough, successful enough, capable enough.

Now we talked about this in a previous blog when we were describing the connection between our mind and body, and specifically how our thoughts, drive our feelings that lead to certain behaviours. So let’s say for example you have this project coming up and you are thinking “Oh, I am not the right person for this, what if I say something wrong or sound silly, or what if I mess it up?”, so then having these thoughts it creates the fear and anxiety of uncertainty and panic, and this leads to procrastination maybe, so you leave this until the very last minute, or you might do what I used to do, which is overworking, doing more than it’s necessary to avoid any surprises or disappointment. So what we need to do is identify that cycle of anxiety and stop it by figuring out what is causing it. Because whether you procrastinate or go into an overworking mode, one thing is certain, the overthinking is not going to stop, it might actually become worse.

Quick things to manage to overthink

  1. Distract yourself with other things

  2. Meditations

  3. Journaling

  4. Breathing exercises

  5. Following through with your to-do list

5 Steps to Stop Overthinking

1. Take a moment to pause and identify what you’re feeling

When you notice you're overthinking, take a moment to pause and try to identify what is making you feel anxious, stressed, worried or afraid.

2. Name your feelings

Name the feeling that you’re feeling in the moment, by being as specific as possible. Instead of just saying "I feel bad", try to be more specific such as saying something like "I feel anxious," "I feel overwhelmed," or "I feel frustrated.".

3. Write Down your thoughts and physical sensations

Write down the thoughts and the associated physical sensation of that emotion. For example muscle tightness, racing heart, or tension in your jaw or shoulders. Now this will help you understand the connection between your thoughts and your feelings and will also help you externalise your thoughts and make sense of them.

4. Question your Thoughts

I want you to explore these thoughts. Ask yourself, what evidence do I have that supports this thought, or is there another way to look at this situation?

5. Reframe your Thoughts and Rely on your existing Strengths

I want you to go along with your train of thought and consider what would happen to you if what you thought happened. How would you be able to handle it? Would you be able to handle it? When you find yourself in this final step you basically, challenge the thoughts and you try to find scenarios when you coped with something similar. For example, if you were thinking "Oh this is too much for me, I cannot handle this” Try saying, "Yes this is challenging and new and scary, but I can take it one step at a time like I've done before, and if I need help, I can ask for it".

If you practice this regularly you will start to notice that the thoughts may be still coming to you but they do not affect you in the same way they did before. Because we can not stop thoughts from coming to our minds, but we can decide whether or not we will pay attention to them. And I know that as you practice this you will also start to notice how you can feel more in control of what’s happening in your mind and body and that is also going to boost your confidence. It is not about changing you and your top qualities, because yes, having ambitious goals, and being highly reliable and organised to name a few are incredible qualities to have. What I believe is most important is to feel the way you appear to others. Because self-doubt, self-comparison and being super critical of yourself are only going to hold you back from achieving your goals. So a little extra tip, start speaking and talking about yourself the way you would talk to your friend or a young kid. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them so you can do better, and keep reminding yourself of everything you have accomplished so far.



Links mentioned:

Exclusive Workshop Announcement!!!

If you feel stuck, unsure of what to do first, if you find it challenging and you are ready to feel calm, confident and in control of your mind, then I want to invite you again to join my peace with anxiety workshop, and finally, since this is the first time I am doing a live workshop about my method, I want to offer everyone exclusive discounts and a bonus offers when they join me live.

Join me live in one week for my very first PEACE with Anxiety workshop: Overcome Anxiety Naturally. In this workshop, you will learn:

  1. the most common misconception about coping with anxiety that gets in the way of your healing,

  2. what to do about your anxious thoughts, feelings and behaviours,

  3. my 5-minute anxiety-reducing exercise

  4. the ultimate framework to effectively ease anxiety and transform into a calm, confident, and in control woman.

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