Anxiety Can Affect Concentration: Here’s How With Tips To Improve Concentration When Anxious
There have been times when we’ve all walked into a room only to forget why we were there in the first place. I’ve found that lately, my concentration has been lacking and it’s almost impossible to focus at work or home.
Trouble concentrating is one of the major symptoms of anxiety and anxiety disorder. When you struggle with severe anxiety, you may find it challenging to pay attention to the tasks at hand, and this inability to focus can also take a toll on your already existing anxiety symptoms.
But how does anxiety affect concentration? Are there some benefits of anxiety? And what to do when anxiety affects concentration?
Let’s explore the answers to these questions in this blog, shall we?
How Does Anxiety Affect Concentration?
Concentrating on a task requires a lot of mental focus, clarity, and energy. But distractions are all around us and that can make it more challenging to pay attention to one task at a time. One of the interesting conundrums is that concentration troubles can mislead us into thinking that we’re doing the right thing when we’re simply focusing on the wrong thing.
Just like how anxiety makes you feel. On the one hand, anxiety can make you feel hypervigilant and can heighten your senses, effectively activating the flight-or-fight response. So, while you may experience an adrenaline or cortisol rush to help you in a stressful situation, in the long run, the same rush experienced during anxiety can be harmful to your cognitive, mental, and emotional health.
It can be difficult to focus on a task when you’re anxious. In some cases, you may also experience racing thoughts, another major symptom of anxiety. These thoughts occur when our bodies become active to the point where the thinking process runs faster than normal and you may either end up processing all thoughts as fast as possible or mat end up focusing on nothing.
Both these scenarios can ultimately affect your concentration. Another problem that causes concentration problems is that people use distractions to help them cope. For instance, you may end up scrolling on your social media because you find it relaxing (and distracting). While it may make you feel relaxed, it may make it difficult to focus on your work when you need to.
Anxiety does not exactly cause concentration problems on its own. Did you know that anxiety can even improve your concentration skills? As I’ve mentioned before, anxiety activates your flight-or-fight response which results in heightened senses. This flight-or-fight reaction releases stress hormones and when these hormones are released, our heart rate increases, breathing increases, and blood is circulated to our limbs.
During this stage, our thinking process becomes impaired, making it difficult to focus. And when you’re not thinking clearly or when your concentration is impaired, you resort to negative self-talk and even if you try to focus on your tasks, you may end up more stressed than normal.
To help you improve your concentration during anxiety, below are some tips you can try.
What To Do When Anxiety Affects Concentration?
These ways can help you when your anxiety affects concentration:
1.Take A Break
When you’re working constantly, it can also make your concentration skills go haywire. Try to schedule a break every 30-45 minutes. Set a timer so that you don’t exceed the break time. During your break, you can go on a walk or practice quick mindfulness exercises.
Caffeine can be a great stimulant when you need to increase focus. While a cup of caffeine can help you get your morning started, it can also affect your anxious mind and make you feel jittery all over. This, in turn, can affect your concentration. So avoid caffeine and if you can’t, then either switch to decaf or cut down on caffeine.
3.Change Your Self-Talk
Anxiety can cause negative thoughts and negative self-talk to come to the surface. Changing your self-talk can change your mindset and make it better to concentrate. Statements like, “I can’t focus”, “I’m not strong enough” will only worsen your anxiety. Change your self-talk to, “I can focus and need a break”. This will help.
4.Breathe In, Breathe Out
Deep breathing is another best way to calm your anxiety when it affects your focus. Conscious breathing exercises can help. Just simply breathe in, hold your breath, and exhale. Pretty simple, right? You can try 4-7-8 breathing exercises, candle and flower breathing, or other quick breathing exercises to calm down.
5.Try Grounding Techniques
Grounding techniques can help your anxiety calm. This can be achieved by simply closing your eyes. Take a few minutes to get in touch with your senses. Getting in touch with your five senses can help you feel grounded and keep your anxiety at bay so you can concentrate well.
6.Penning Your Thoughts
Another way that can help when anxiety affects concentration is to pen down your thoughts. Anxiety causes racing thoughts and these thoughts can make it harder for you to focus so open your thoughts down. When you write down your thoughts, your mind will feel light and you will be able to focus better.
7.Avoid Unhealthy Distractions
Distractions when they can help motivate you can be wonders but when those distractions worsen your anxiety then it can be unhealthy. To avoid this, you can try to set timers for distractions and focus. For example, tell yourself that you will only distract yourself for 15 minutes and set a notification on your phone to remind you of that.
8.Break Down Your Tasks
To avoid having your anxiety affect concentration, figure out what you need to do first, and then break it down into smaller tasks. This way you can focus on one thing at a time and work on one task easily and then move on to the next.
Anxiety takes a toll on your mental energy and makes it difficult for you to concentrate. Anxiety triggers the stress response and can directly affect your ability to think clearly and concentrate. When your anxiety affects concentration, there are some tips you can try to get back on track and reset your mind.