can anxiety cause brain fog

Does anxiety cause brain fog?

June 5, 2023
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Anxiety and brain fog are two common mental health issues that can significantly impact your productivity, mental sharpness, and overall well-being. There’s a good chance you’ve experienced both of them at some point in your life—but have you ever thought that your anxiety could cause your brain fog? 

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the relationship between anxiety and brain fog, so that you can use that knowledge to better manage your mental health, improve your working memory, and increase your productivity. We’re sure that you’ll walk away—or, you know, close this browser tab—with a better understanding of the symptoms and effects of both, as well as actionable tips and techniques to manage them, too. 

What is brain fog?

Brain fog is that all-too-familiar feeling of confusion, disorganization, or inability to focus. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including lack of sleep, physical health issues, and stress. 

When you experience brain fog, it can negatively impact your work and personal life, and it can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue, such as anxiety. (We’ll cover that in a minute.) 

Common symptoms and effects of brain fog

The symptoms of brain fog can include the following:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased productivity
  • Increased stress

When these ill-timed symptoms of brain fog arise, know that they don't have to be permanent. They're also not a sign that you’re “lazy”—in fact, they can actually be a sign of something more serious, like sleep deprivation, illness, or anxiety. 

Understanding anxiety

Anxiety is a mental health condition characterized by anxious thoughts, excessive worry, and physical symptoms like increased heart rate and sweating. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental factors, and life experiences.

Common symptoms and effects of anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety can include the following:

  • Excessive rumination
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of focus
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or body pain
  • Fatigue and poor sleep quality
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Increased heart rate and sweating
  • Panic attacks

Anxiety and its symptoms can potentially have a negative impact on both your work and personal life, leading to decreased productivity, increased stress, and, you guessed it, brain fog.  

The connection between anxiety and brain fog

Anxiety can cause brain fog because of the way it impacts your ability to process information

Think about it: When you’re anxious, it’s hard to focus on anything else. (Except for your negative thought patterns, perhaps, which can further exacerbate brain fog.) That’s because your brain is so focused on processing those anxious thoughts that it becomes difficult or even impossible to concentrate on other tasks.

And so the spiral continues: When you can’t focus and concentrate, you’re unable to complete tasks or remember important information, and that creates anxiety, which perpetuates the cycle.

4 ways to help manage anxiety and prevent brain fog

Now that you know the connection between anxiety and brain fog, let’s explore some tips and techniques to help you manage anxiety and brain fog:

  1. Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a powerful tool that can help you be more present and aware of your thoughts and emotions. It involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgment, which can immediately help quiet worries of the past or future, as well as reduce overall stress and increase productivity over time.

To incorporate mindfulness meditation into your daily routine, try setting aside 5-10 minutes for it each day to start. You can use a guided meditation resource like the Balance app or try other mindfulness exercises to assist in your practice.

  1. Healthy Habits

Maintaining healthy habits can also help you manage both anxiety and brain fog. Examples of healthy habits include getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes each day.

  1. Therapy

Therapy can help manage anxiety and brain fog by providing a safe and supportive environment to explore your thoughts and emotions. There are different types of therapy available, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Finding a qualified therapist can help you explore different therapy types and develop coping skills and strategies to manage your anxiety and brain fog.

  1. Stress Management

Stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and time management, can also help you manage your anxiety and brain fog. That's because when you can manage your stress, you can increase your productivity, thereby reducing the cycle of anxiety and brain fog.

Creating a plan to manage anxiety and brain fog

Managing your anxiety and brain fog is most successful when it's done proactively rather than reactionary. In other words, you'll likely experience more success when you preemptively figure out how to address your anxiety and brain fog from a state of calm and balance.

Start by identifying your triggers

The first step toward creating a plan to manage your anxiety and brain fog is understanding what makes you anxious. Common triggers include work-related stress, personal relationships, and various lifestyle factors. 

Outline a plan of action

Once you've identified your triggers, you can then outline and create a plan for avoiding, preventing, or managing them. For example, let's say one of your anxiety triggers is poor sleep. One plan to overcome that could be to approach improving your sleep in small steps. You might begin by going to bed 5 minutes earlier than usual tonight, 10 minutes earlier tomorrow night, and so on. And then next week, you can slowly start to reduce your screen time before bed, or begin another relaxing bedtime ritual, like drinking a cup of chamomile tea. 

When to seek professional help

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek professional help for anxiety and brain fog if you’re experiencing any of these issues: 

  • Chronic anxiety
  • Severe brain fog 
  • Difficulty functioning in daily life 

If that’s you, consider finding a qualified healthcare professional who can help you develop a treatment plan that meets your individual needs through therapy, meditation, or other types of treatment. 

Start managing your mental health and brain fog today 

Brain fog can be frustrating, but know that there are practical things you can do to effectively manage your anxiety—a cause of brain fog—like incorporating mindfulness and stress management practices into your daily routine, engaging in healthy habits, and seeking therapy.

Aside from that, you can also consider making brain training a daily habit to help keep your mind sharp. With the Elevate app, you’ll get personalized brain training workouts, plus 40+ games backed by science and designed to improve your vocabulary, mental math, memory skills, and more. 

Download Elevate on iOS or Android now, and experience the benefits of a clearer and sharper mind today!


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