How to Regulate Myself When Anxiety Clouds My Thinking
Anxiety is an emotion that can completely consume your attention, making it difficult or impossible to think clearly. All you can focus on is your sense of fear, uneasiness, worry, dread or nervousness. This is true whether the anxiety is caused by a sudden trauma or crisis, or if it’s caused by ongoing, unrelenting stress.
While you are preoccupied with anxious feelings, you may feel like you’re not able to concentrate at all. There’s a good chance you can’t focus on reading or writing, you can’t think rationally, and you can’t take in new information. You may be overthinking, ruminating and imagining negative outcomes. This makes you feel like you’re walking around in a fog, unable to sort out rational thoughts, and you may have trouble remembering things. You may even become more anxious about your diminished cognitive abilities.
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Anxiety and Brain Fog or Clouded Thinking
Clouded thinking or brain fog is sometimes called mental fatigue, and it’s a common symptom of anxiety. You may experience:
- Lack of mental clarity
- Inability to focus on what you’re doing
- Difficulty concentrating
If you’ve been under stress for a long period of time, you may not even realize that anxiety may be the cause of your clouded thinking. All you know is that your thought processes feel inefficient, inadequate or impaired. Continually worrying about your inefficient thought processes creates more anxiety, leading to even more clouded thinking.
What is Self-Regulation?
Self-regulation is an important method of dealing with anxious feelings so that you will be able to think more clearly. Examples of self-regulation include calming yourself when you are experiencing upsetting feelings and cheering yourself up if you’re feeling very low.
The goal of most forms of psychotherapy is to help you to learn better self-regulation. Ultimately, the hope is that you will be able to regulate your own emotions and behavior. For example, when you regulate your behavior, you get up and go to work even though you don’t feel like it. When you are feeling anxious and can regulate your emotions, you can ruminate less intensely and stop imagining the worst.
Methods of Relieving Anxiety
Learning to regulate your emotions takes time and practice. It involves learning to pause between a feeling and an action or reaction, giving yourself time to process your thoughts.
Brain fog that has been caused by stress may improve using one or more of the following methods of relieving anxious feelings:
- Practice mindfulness, which includes deep breathing and present moment awareness. Continually return your attention to the present moment. Deliberately focus on a different topic.
- Step back from the problem or situation that is upsetting you. Listen to music, take a relaxing bath or meditate. Turn off your phone for a while to help you detach for a period of time.
- Do some form of physical exercise, such as going for a walk, taking a bike ride, practicing yoga or going for a swim.
- Use positive affirmations. Remind yourself that the feelings you are having right now are temporary.
- Practice aromatherapy. A variety of essential oils help reduce anxiety in some people, such as lavender, jasmine and rose oil.
- Write in a journal to release your intense feelings or to help you get in touch with what is actually bothering you.
- Talk to a therapist or a friend.
Some people find that counting from one to 10 and then repeating this helps to calm stormy emotions. Avoid chemicals that may distort or intensify emotions, such as caffeine or alcohol.
There are no quick fixes when it comes to relieving anxiety and clouded thinking. Strive to improve your awareness about what may trigger or intensify your anxiety. Practicing these techniques of self-regulation and working with a therapist can help you to reduce your symptoms of anxiety, including brain fog.
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