Kind of like driving a car in a bad fog, it’s hard to think clearly and make good decisions when you are overwrought, overwhelmed and feeling anxious. If only clearing your brain fog was as easy as turning on the windscreen wipers. It may not be quite this simple but there are some simple ways to think more clearly and make better decisions when you feel like anxiety related brain fog has taken hold.
Although ‘brain fog’ can be caused by a number of medical conditions, this article focuses on what to do when you have anxiety related brain fog. The first step is to identify that it is anxiety that is clouding your vision and impairing your cognitive function. The next step is to stop focusing on your anxiety. It is common when entrenched in a bout of anxiety to become obsessed with how you are feeling, to worry about how it may impact on your family, work and life. Internally focused thoughts will only worsen symptoms of brain fog, that may include, a lack of concentration, fatigue, irritability, intense fear and irrational thoughts. It can be difficult to acknowledge that you are becoming internally focused when you are in the thick of it but by understanding your stressors and what triggers your anxiety, you can take better control of your thought process.
Anxiety related brain fog results from elevated stress hormones causing the body to react by suppressing the rationalisation and core memory part of the brain (the cortex and hippocampus) and increasing areas of the brain (the amygdala) designed to respond to danger. Once the mind recognises that there is no real threat or danger, stress levels will reduce, the body will calm and anxiety will ease.
Everyone’s external stressors or triggers are different and it’s important to recognise what causes you to have an overly anxious mindset. A calming mantra that works for you when you are caught in the thick of anxiety can be very helpful in reducing stress levels. In treating anxiety, psychologists often use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help people identify when their thought patterns are negative and replace them with more helpful thoughts, resulting in more positive behavioural outcomes. Part of cognitive behavioural therapy in treating anxiety is monitoring your ‘self-talk’ and testing realities of negative talk by evaluating the thoughts that lead to unhelpful fears and beliefs. The treatment focuses on questioning the negative thoughts and beliefs that lead to the feelings of anxiousness in various situations.
Working with a Clinical Psychologist to design your own personal strategies to manage anxiety may help you feel more empowered and in control of your mind. Whilst addressing any underlying causes of your anxiety may help you to overcome it in the long run.
For more information on anxiety treatment, visit http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/anxiety/
To view our team of Clinical Psychologists, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page here.