5 Tips For Dealing With Anxiety Brain Fog
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Anxiety brain fog can be described as a clouded state of mind where it can be difficult to:
- focus on the task at hand
- put thoughts together
- understand and follow something (could be as simple as a conversation)
- be motivated and stay in the present moment
I remember the first day I experienced anxiety-related brain fog. I had been having panic attacks for just over a month and sat down to do some work one morning.
I wanted to catch up on emails so I could organise my day. The first email was only a couple of sentences asking a really simple question and I couldn’t read it. I could not go past a couple of words, I had to keep restarting over and over again and couldn’t process any information.
I began to get so worked up, my anxiety got triggered and within a couple of minutes, I was having a panic attack. I felt so stupid — why couldn’t I just read the email?
As time went on, I began to notice this brain fog was cropping up more frequently. I was struggling to follow the most basic things such as a movie, a conversation and even simple instructions.
It was only when I went to my doctor about my panic attacks that I came to understand brain fog was a common symptom of anxiety. It was also something that I had to work very hard at to manage — my focus was hugely impacted and I went from being able to keep my head down at work for 2–3 hours at a time to barely being able to concentrate for 10 minutes.
If you have been struggling with anything similar, I want to share my 5 tips for dealing with anxiety brain fog below.
1. TAKE A BREAK
As soon as you find yourself fighting with your brain fog, it’s crucial to take a break.
Take a step away from your desk or the errand you were running and just have a 5-minute breather. The more and more you battle with your brain fog, the more you are going to get frustrated and your anxiety may flare-up.
Taking a break can help your mind to relax and reset so that you can return back to your day with more clarity.
Keep taking these short breaks every time you can feel that brain fog returning. Perhaps do some breathwork, make a tea, do some stretches or even take a step outside for some fresh air.
2. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
It’s likely that tiredness could be aggravating your brain fog.
I know that in the current climate, where many of us are in lockdown, our sleeping patterns are all over the place. However, getting a good night’s sleep can help relieve anxiety and boost our attention and concentration.
Try not to rely on sugar and caffeine to keep you going and instead prioritise getting a good 7–8 hours sleep. Click here for some tips on creating a mindful evening routine.
3. FOCUS ON ONE TASK AT A TIME
In an attempt to be more efficient, you may find yourself balancing too many different tasks in a short amount of time. This can often result in you feeling overwhelmed and flustered.
Focusing on one thing at a time will allow:
It’s also worth trying out the Pomodoro Technique which aims to help anyone who gets distracted with their work and promotes short bursts of activity to increase productivity and manage your time better.
The technique goes as follows:
- Pick one project or task to focus on
- Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus only on that piece of work
- When your time is up, take a 2/3 minute break
- After four sessions, take a longer 15–30 minute break
4. ASSESS YOUR DIET
What you put into your body, especially when you have anxiety can influence your focus and concentration.
Relying on processed foods and snacks will inevitably make you feel groggy and can cause spikes and crashes in your sugar levels which will leave you feeling lethargic and unmotivated.
If you have been experiencing anxiety brain fog, it’s vital you maintain a balanced diet and incorporate fruit, veggies, whole grains and protein into your meals which can help cognition.
Click here to get your FREE copy of POP’s cookbook which is full of simple and delicious recipes designed to help you with your appetite if you have been struggling with anxiety.
I am a huge advocate of meditation. It’s a practice I maintain every single day and it was hands down the most effective way I managed my anxiety brain fog.
Meditation employs a variety of techniques to help your mind focus on one specific point and divert any wondering thoughts without any judgement.
It has been proven to help:
- Reduce stress and control anxiety
- Enhance self-awareness
- Increase our attention-span
- Support our emotional wellbeing
Meditation allows me to set an intention for my day and it helps me to gain clarity and reassurance in moments where I feel overwhelmed, anxious and helpless.
Anxiety brain fog can be frustrating and overwhelming to deal with but it’s important to manage all the other elements of your stress which could be contributing factors.
Remember to implement frequent breaks, get a good night’s sleep and practice mindfulness so that you can feel more empowered and energized throughout the day. If you are finding that you are struggling and can’t help yourself, check out online-therapy.com which offers fantastic virtual CBT sessions (with 20% off) and be paired with a therapist who can help guide you better.
Don’t also forget to explore POP’s mental health printable programme which helps you take back control over your thoughts, emotions and goals. The worksheets are simple to follow and work through and you can take it completely at your own pace.