Slide background
Call Us

High Functioning Anxiety: How Do You Know When It’s Time to Get Help?

help for high functioning anxiety


It goes without saying that periods of sadness and anxiety are an inevitable part of life. Bad mental states can weigh on us for weeks or even months, and the stress of the modern world is something that is hard to avoid. But for those with high-functioning anxiety, these normal feelings have slipped into something more difficult and profound, and knowing when it’s time to get help for high functioning anxiety is vital to long-term wellbeing.

It isn’t always easy distinguishing exactly when our feelings, worries and experience of life indicate a mental health issue. When does grief slip over into depression? Can we say for sure when extreme tidiness is a sign of OCD? At what point does a “worrier” personality type become a person living with an anxiety disorder? Doctors may have diagnostic criteria, but it’s an undeniably complex issue – especially for the individual in the midst of it all.

What is High-Functioning Anxiety?

While high-functioning anxiety isn’t an official mental health condition, it an increasingly recognised phenomenon and something that many people identify with. Outwardly, those with high-functioning anxiety appear to cope well with life and are even very successful. On the inside, however, they experience a near-constant state of anxiety, feeling beset by catastrophic thinking and nagging worry. The clinical psychologist Inna Khazan, PhD, explains:

“People with high-functioning anxiety push themselves to get things done, with anxiety constantly holding a ‘stick’ over their heads,” adds Khazan. “Fear of what might happen if they don’t move forward keeps them moving forward. And because these people are often high achieving, no one thinks that there is anything ‘wrong’ with them.”

We tend to expect people with anxiety to be visibly paralysed with fear and to withdraw from the world. This is true of some people, but others respond to anxiety by becoming as busy as possible, working hard to maintain their public face. The likely result is that the problem becomes compounded – if a person seems fine, they are unlikely to be advised by friends or family to look after themselves, or seek help.

When Does It Become a Problem?

The topic of high-functioning anxiety is something that can prompt questions about how we define mental illness, and how much we put down to personality, circumstances or low mood. As we don’t have a window into other people’s minds, we can struggle to know what is “normal” everyday stress and worry, and what we should go to our doctors about. As philosophers, religious leaders and creatives have mused for centuries, life inevitably encompasses a certain amount of suffering – but at which point is that suffering indicative of illness?

By operating well in life – turning up to work, picking their kids up from school, navigating social events with apparent ease – the characteristics of anxiety disorder that high-functioning people experience are generally considered to be at “subclinical” levels. However, the fact they can maintain their professional and personal life with relative success doesn’t mean that their anxiety doesn’t have a great personal cost.

Constantly managing worries, having difficulty sleeping, pushing down fear, suffering with headaches and digestive problems – those with high-functioning anxiety may come to believe that feeling pretty awful for much of the time is simply the reality of life, forgetting what it’s like to live without that knot in their stomach. 

This can be pretty isolating, and extremely exhausting. It can even exacerbate other health issues, and people struggle through without outside support or proper self-care – because, of course, they’re “fine”, why should they need it?

Help for High Functioning Anxiety

So how do you know, if you’re a person with high-functioning anxiety, when it’s time to get help; and what kind of help might be best for you? Here are some ideas which could be the first steps towards a less anxious and stressful experience of life.

Trust your feelings 

Just because you don’t necessarily have a diagnosable mental health issue, (although only a doctor and/or psychiatrist could tell you for sure) and your life appears to be a successful and functional one on the surface, doesn’t mean that you should discount the feelings of fear, stress and worry you experience. If anxiety is something you experience a lot of the time over a period of months or years, it isn’t something you need to accept – and going to a health professional for a chat should be your first port of call.

Take steps to understand your emotions

If anxiety is your default state, it may well have affected your perception and experience of life. You might have developed several coping mechanisms that you barely notice, or repeat patterns of behaviour because you are always in a vaguely panicked state of mind. Keeping a diary – even if it’s just a dry run-through of your day and how you were feeling at the time – can be a great way to gain more insight into your life and see patterns which otherwise may go unnoticed.

Give yourself permission to practice self-care

Even for those with a generally sunny outlook and who naturally don’t worry too much, life can be very difficult at times. If you are at the opposite end of the spectrum and tend to find yourself worrying about everything, it can be even more so. We all need to practice self-care, and it is especially important for those who tend to push down their feelings and work at 100% effort to keep everything in life running smoothly.

You may think that, compared to others, you are actually OK and should just get on with things. But you can vastly improve your experience of life simply by allocating a little more time away from professional concerns and looking after others to looking after yourself.

Whether it’s meditation, making more time to pursue your hobbies, doing less overtime at work – doing what you can to soothe and help yourself can transform your experience of high-functioning anxiety to something more manageable.

Words by Holly Ashby

This entry was posted in blog.

Why Aren’t Our Meditation Courses Free?

why does it cost money to learn meditation


Meditation is a beautiful, empowering thing. Its power to change people’s lives and foster a mindset of openness, connectivity and compassion across communities is one of the many reasons why we are so inspired to teach this practice.

Recently, however, we have seen a few people ask a pointed question: “why does it cost money to learn meditation?” Some have remarked that asking for a fee is not in the spirit of meditation, or could be construed as cynical.  

We completely understand the line of thought that may lead people to this conclusion, and are open to everyone’s opinion. However, we felt this post would help to illuminate the issue.

Let’s use an analogy, albeit an imperfect one. You can argue that learning to dance is also a beautiful and empowering thing. It helps people to be healthier, express themselves and is a precious and sophisticated artform, something that should exist outside the base concerns of commerce. Like meditation, therefore, it would be possible to consider that ballet classes should always be free.

But the reality of our economic system is that ballet teachers provide a service. They must rent a studio, invest in teaching materials and contribute significant amounts of their time – not to mention the many years of their life it took to acquire their knowledge.

They can neither run their business or live at all comfortably in the world without some form of income; nor can they employ other teachers or rent a studio. It would be wonderful if a ballet teacher could pass on this gift with no recompense at all, and some occasionally have the capacity to do so. But for most teachers, this simply isn’t possible.

In an ideal world in which we aren’t so tied to the whims of an arbitrary economic resource – one which, we hesitate to add, is currently failing to serve genuine human need and potential, or reflect the availability of our globe’s natural resources – teachers wouldn’t have to make this compromise. We would happily instruct others with no greater expectation of reward than the pleasure we get in turn.

When it comes to learning to dance, taking art classes, or mastering any number of other skills, though, we are generally able to understand that an investment of time equals an investment of resources – and thus, the need to charge for classes. It’s because meditation is so close to people’s hearts, and often part of a profound spiritual journey, that we can find it harder to rationalise this necessity.

Here at Beeja, we are motivated solely by our desire to pass on our knowledge and techniques; specific methodologies that have helped people lead more fulfilled and less anxious lives. But the economic reality of doing this (in London, no less) cannot be avoided.

In order to spread the message of meditation, we charge as little as we can for our courses and events. The economic reality of our location and situation dictate that without money to keep the wheels turning, we couldn’t realistically carry on teaching Beeja meditation, holding events, or spreading the word.

Our founder, Will Williams, hasn’t taken a wage for many years, and personally subsidises our meditation centre in order to bring Beeja meditation to as many people as he can. However, it would be deeply unfair to expect our other teachers and members of staff to work without a salary.

Volunteers only have very limited time to give, and with the ever-rising costs of essentials such as housing, food, and childcare, people cannot live on fresh air alone. We must also manage significant costs in our studio space, plus the hundreds of other hidden costs of running an organisation.

In order to reconcile this reality with the ideals of meditation, we take every step we can to make sure our students get the best teaching experience possible, and at the best value for money. We strive to ensure our prices remain as low as possible, and are more than happy to negotiate price plans for those who need it. In addition, we hold many free events throughout the year, including our recurring and well-loved Shavasana Disco.

After our courses, we hold regular free group meditations (which can be attended by people who have learnt Beeja/TM meditation elsewhere) and offer extensive complementary aftercare. A student can contact us any time they are looking for answers to their questions, or advice on how to develop their practice, and even if they are in need of emotional support.  

We are not in it for commercial success, we are here to help all those who really need and want help. We discuss this issue an awful lot as a team, and one day we would love to produce an app which is free or extremely cheap to buy that mimics the teaching experience. But to do so would require an investment which runs well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. For this you need investors, and investors expect a return on investment – and once again the question of economics raises its head.

At Beeja, we also don’t feel we can teach this technique with effectiveness or integrity if we were to carve up this ancient and holistic wisdom into bite-size “taster” packages, add-ons and other such deals. If we can’t teach Beeja meditation properly, and in the form which is most helpful to people, it would feel far too much like a corporatism and westernisation of something truly special – a fast-food-style “start with 30 minutes free today and double up for extra enlightenment!” that guts the original meaning out of the technique. And we don’t feel this is in the spirit of what we feel called to do.

Unless some amazing technology comes along that enables us to humanise the learning experience and generate sufficiently strong learning outcomes, or some even more genius technique is found that can be taught via such cost-effective platforms, it will always have to be taught live, in person, with staff, and and all the other crazy stuff that goes into it. And because you need teachers, a space to teach in, and many other hidden things, it simply isn’t possible for this to be free.

We aim to support everyone in the practice of meditation, and will continue to strive for the betterment of all our students. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss any of these points further – we always love to hear from you, and enjoy discussing questions from enquiring minds.

Note: Those questioning cost sometimes point to Buddhist centres who teach meditation. Here, whatever donation you can afford is enough for you to learn. However, it is important to remember that Buddhism is a religion, and similar to how you can walk into a Catholic Church and enjoy Mass for free, their services do not rely on set charges, as they will have many generous and committed donors.

Volunteers and monks work extensively in religions such as Buddhism, making their staffing costs low. Churches and religious organizations are also generally exempt from income tax and receive other favorable treatment under the tax law. Finally (although this isn’t inherently a bad thing and leads to lots of good work) religions are ultimately motivated by guiding people to embrace their own particular belief system – whereas our organisation is entirely secular.


This entry was posted in blog.

Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times

Helping Staff Manage Stress During Tough Times


Here at Beeja, we think corporate wellbeing is really important. We spend so much of our lives working that making that time as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible should be a big priority across society. If you run a business or manage employees, helping staff manage stress during tough times could make a huge difference to their lives in general.

Employee stress (and its impact on both personal wellbeing and professional productivity) is a persistent concern for business and team leaders. According to the Health and Safety Executive 526,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17, and 12.5 million working days were lost.

When times are tough and businesses (or other organisations) experience commercial uncertainty, a difficult transition, or the sudden departure of a key member of staff, this stress can be compounded. Entrepreneurs and managers carry the responsibility of guiding the establishment out of the storm, while simultaneously protecting their employee’s health and wellbeing.

Leading your team back to stability and success is not without its challenges, but by following these tips you can keep a lid on employee stress.

Be Honest and Open

While the impulse to not worry your team is understandable, if you are dealing with profound and noticeable problems, a lack of communication on your part can foster atmosphere of speculation and fear. You don’t have to share every detail, but openness and honesty will bolster the trust employees have in you and your integrity, and will help them appreciate their place in the long term recovery.

Acknowledge the Problem, But Find the Positives

It’s important to acknowledge the difficulties your business is experiencing, but it is possible to find the positives even in very demanding situations; often by focusing on the opportunities that come with change.

For example, perhaps operational problems have made it clear that the business or organisation would benefit from some restructuring. In this case, you can use the change to actually benefit your employees by asking them where their skills are underutilised, and tailoring a job role that is more suited to them.

Help Your Staff Manage Their Workload

Whether you’ve been forced to downsize or have had an influx of business that’s left you with more clients or customers than you can currently cope with (one of those “good problems”), there are many moments in the working world where every member of the team sees an increase in workload.

Your key focus will be to resolve the issue as soon as possible, whether that’s by taking on new employees or streamlining your services so your team can cope with demand. But in the meantime, there are other ways you can keep stress at bay.

Firstly, make it clear that you completely understand that your staff are under extra pressure, and make sure – as the boss – that you are seen to be working just as hard as they are to keep everything together. Secondly, look into the areas where you can save people time. One solution is to cut back on meetings (the Harvard Business Review surveyed 182 senior managers in a range of industries, and found that 65% said meetings keep them from completing their own work) and allow trusted members of staff to make executive decisions.

Don’t Let Workplace Wellbeing Practices Slip

It’s understandable, when you need everyone to be working efficiently, to let good practice in workplace wellness to slip. However, this can do more harm than good, as burnout and stress damage productivity and can even lead to extended sick leave.

Make sure staff take their breaks, don’t check emails outside of work hours, and if you simply cannot avoid a key deadline and you need staff to work late into the night/do consistent overtime, give them a couple of free days holiday when things calm down. It’s also helpful to encourage wellness habits like meditation, or get the team to leave their desks and go on walks during their breaks.

Even the smallest everyday actions can make a difference, and as a employer, you can make a real difference to people’s health, happiness and state of mind – even through challenges and tough times.

Check out our corporate wellbeing page to find out more.  

This entry was posted in blog.

Finding Calm in the Everyday

being calm every day


A presiding feature of the modern world is that it’s an extremely busy place. Planet Earth is a huge 24/7 hive of activity – with all of humanity working, shopping, tidying and socialising throughout the day, and deep into the artificially-lit night.

When you start to quantify just how much is going on at any given time, the numbers can be mind-blowing. There are 7.6 billion people, 1.2 billion cars, 1.9 billion smartphones and 36,899 branches of McDonald’s serving 68 million customers every day. With all this rushing by, it’s no wonder that catching a few moments of calm is by no means guaranteed.

And the thing about all this is that it’s relatively new. Only a hundred years ago, there was about 6 billion fewer people, zero smartphones and not one sinister clown selling burgers (we presume). It’s clear that the globe is an awful lot more hectic than it once was, and the result is an environment where we have to consciously carve out moments of serenity where we can.

Our ancestors could take a certain amount of peacefulness for granted, which isn’t necessarily true for us in the modern day. We live in a very different place than the inhabitants of pre-industrial England, who would have shared the whole country with less than half of the current population of London, and probably heard few things louder than church bells. But being calm every day is still possible – if we know the right way to do it.


Seeking nature


We are, for the most part, separated from nature. Here in the UK, 90.1% of the population lived in a city in 2010, and by 2030 this is set to rise to 92%. City dwellers appear to experience greater issues with mental health than their rural counterparts, suffering a 40% increased risk of depression and double the rate of schizophrenia, according to the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health. Whether it’s living in high rises, constant noise or lack of community, there seems to be something about city surroundings which make us feel stressed out.

The mental health charity Mind extolls the many benefits of getting out in nature, and green, leafy spaces can be incredibly soothing. But we don’t always have to hop on a train to the countryside in order to feel the benefits – we can bring a little more nature into our lives with simple everyday changes.

A 2008 study found that people recovering from surgery that have flowers in their room felt less anxiety than those who didn’t. Similarly, having more flowers around your home could help you create a more relaxing atmosphere. The act of caring for plants can also be very therapeutic, so keeping them in your living space or spending more time in the garden will provide plenty of calming, mindful moments.

While they may at times add a certain amount of chaos to our lives, pets can also be a source of calm. Having another (and rather different) living being around can take you out of your worries and into the moment, whether it’s laughing at a dog’s exuberance or staring into the fascinating otherworld of a goldfish bowl. Of course, this is less true when your cat has upended the bin in search of chicken bones, but you can argue it’s worth it for all those quiet moments with them purring in your lap.


The problem with time


It isn’t only the physical separation created by increased urbanisation that affects us. Rather than living in tune with the natural world, we work to a man-made schedule which has little in common with anything our hunter-gatherer or agricultural forebears experienced. Time pressure is a great cause of stress and frustration, and it is almost entirely artificial – a modern construct that doesn’t actually reflect the reality of our existence.

When the 40-hour work week was introduced, it represented a huge step forward for exploited people working 14-hour days. Yet as technology has advanced (and we can complete far more in less time) our working hours haven’t been reduced, despite grand visions in the 50s and 60s of humanity being freed from labour. The reason for this, some people argue, is those who feel short of time make better consumers, buying convenience and easy entertainment in order to maximise the limited free time they have.


Stopping the clock


Whatever the source, the fact remains that it’s a perceived lack of time which stops many of us from truly pausing and living in the moment. We’re so used to compartmentalising our day – we go to the office for work time, sit down for dinner time, head to the gym for exercise time – that we forget that we don’t have to schedule enjoyment or relaxation. We don’t have to be on holiday to catch moments of calm – we can find them throughout the day.  

One way to do this is to avoid the impulse of using every spare second to tick things off your to-do list. If you are the sort of person who cleans out the fridge as your pasta cooks, or answers emails while you are on hold, it can be worth trying to go a little slower and appreciate quiet moments for what they are. Rather than trying to optimise every second, and focus purely on productivity, allow for rest as much as you can.

Even something quite dull like hanging out the laundry or doing the washing up can be strangely peaceful – if we simply stop trying to do eight other things at the same time and focus on the task in hand – appreciating perhaps the afternoon glow of sunshine or feel of warm water on our hands.


Stemming the tide of information


If we think about how often we check our phones – reading news stories, scrolling through social media and checking our notifications – we realise just how much time these little devices are taking up. And along with all that time there’s the mental energy we invest as well, where we find ourselves constantly processing and reacting to information we’d otherwise be completely oblivious to.

This isn’t to say that being informed is a bad thing – our smartphones are undeniably useful in many ways – but the endless deluge of content we’re presented with now is often overwhelming.  Learning to switch off our phones is a key part of switching off in general, and it’s important to practice just sitting with ourselves in quiet moments, rather than looking for the easy distraction provided by technology.

It’s something nearly everyone does, but in those five minutes here and there throughout the day where you find yourself with nothing to do, it’s likely that you pick up your phone. This isn’t a negative all of the time, but you can embrace calm and quiet by taking in the opportunity to look around you, rather than down at a screen.

Our brains don’t need to be constantly engaged, and by breaking the habit of constantly seeking information, we give ourselves a much better chance of relaxation – ultimately helping us reach the goal of being calm every day and making us happier people. 


This entry was posted in blog.