Pittsburgh — At least 40 million American adults struggle with anxiety every year, but how many of them have high functioning anxiety? And what is it anyway? It’s not a clinically recognized disorder but a specific kind of anxiety that describes people, like me. On the outside, we look driven, self-sufficient and intensely hard-working. But on the inside, we feel like we can’t ever take a break, or else it will all tumble down. It’s like walking on eggshells with yourself daily, and it’s a serious problem. High functioning anxiety also includes symptoms like the need to do repetitive tasks, fear of driving people away, not taking time to relax out of fear of failure and other nervous ticks.
As we know, no number of apps can replace a professional’s input, however, they could be the missing ingredient to a healthier self-care routine. Up until a few months ago, I didn’t think I was worthy of breaks. I constantly kept going, despite both my physical and mental health deteriorating. I thought if I stopped, everything would, in fact, crumble around me. Living with high functioning anxiety is extremely difficult, but not impossible. To remind you of this, here are five apps I’ve found useful — hopefully, they’ll help you along your mental health journey too!
Tiimo is a visual daily planner, to put it in the simplest terms. I found out about it through @paigelayle’s TikTok, when she was discussing ways to help her stay organized. Their mission is to “make life easier for people who need structure and visual support in their daily lives.” On this app, you can create and categorize your daily schedule from scratch. It also breaks down your whole day into a mini to-do list.
I personally categorize my days by school, career, house and self-care events. I use this every single day and I genuinely can’t imagine life without it. Tiimo gets me to compartmentalize all that goes on in my brain and reminds me to schedule much-needed time to relax, even if it’s just half an hour.
I am - Daily Affirmations
With high functioning anxiety, you have to learn how to take a step back and realize you’re doing more than enough. I get this is easier said than done and sometimes, the voice in our heads isn’t enough of a motivator. With the I am app, you can set up daily affirmations for yourself. You control what affirmations you see and set up how many times you see them. It’s a simple app that can honestly make your day in a snap.
I’ve been using it since high school, and it has cheered me up on my bad days. I write things along the lines of:
- You are worthy of good things.
- You need to breathe and remember who you are.
- You are a queen and will conquer this.
The key is to read the affirmations out loud to yourself when you see them pop up. So, don’t you dare swipe them away!
Sanvello is all about pausing, reflecting and taking time to check in with yourself every single day. There are multiple price points to access the app (some that might be covered by your insurance) but no matter what version you get, Sanvello reminds you of the importance of self-care, peer support, coaching and therapy. When you first sign in they ask you questions such as what is your happy place, what your goals are, when you want to check in with yourself and if you’re currently seeing a therapist.
Every week, you reflect on your previous week’s progress and how to improve your mindfulness with scores. Since people with high functioning anxiety are so goal-oriented, Sanvello reframes their self-care advice as goals to achieve the following week. This app helped me a lot in the past to remind myself to make a therapy appointment and meditate, especially on the days I didn’t want to.
If you love audiobooks or the Calm app, you’re going to love the Dare app. It starts with a simple questionnaire about your biggest concern and a small introduction video about that specific worry. This app is amazing because it basically features a super calming voice telling you you’re a badass and can handle anything if you put your mind to it. While I’m oversimplifying it, it can be your life preserver on a bad day. From audio clips and guided meditations, this app will help you recenter yourself.
My favorite part is the “SOS feature” that I use for emergencies like panic attacks; this feature should only be used as a last resort. Once here, the app lists reasons you choose from to specify why you called for an SOS — from needing a reminder to relax, to seeking motivation or having a panic attack. After you click on the one you’re feeling, it welcomes you with extremely relaxing audio to ground you. It has saved me from spiraling many times throughout the past few months. And if you’re more of an auditory person, like I am, this app might register with you more.
More than likely, you’ve either seen an advertisement for this app, or in my case, an actual Headspace-themed tour bus driving around your city. And it’s popular for a good reason! When it comes to high functioning anxiety, it’s extremely difficult to teach yourself to take a step back. Headspace is best for keeping mindfulness throughout the day, whether it’s the start of your morning or if you need help sleeping. From articles to audio and calming illustrations, it’s like a little sanctuary to tuck yourself away in.
A lot comes with the free version, and it helps you figure out meditation as a beginner. So beginners everywhere, this may be the app to get started!