12 Practical Tips for Helping Anxiety-Related Brain Fog
Anxiety-related brain fog is a frustrating occurrence that can disrupt daily functioning and impact how we feel about the quality of our lives. An experience rather than a medical or mental health diagnosis, the brain fog that can accompany anxiety can make us feel disorganized and forgetful, frustrated that we can’t seem to make a simple decision–and then even more anxious because of it. That this mental fogginess can be an effect of anxiety rather than an actual illness is positive news. This isn’t something inherently wrong with the brain, which means that we can directly address it. In the spirit of blowing away the fog and clearing our mind, here are 12 practical tips for helping anxiety-related brain fog.
10 Useful Tips to Clear Anxiety-Related Brain Fog
In a previous post, I explored anxiety-related brain fog: what it’s like, and how to begin to emerge from it. Because I don’t enjoy my own times of this mental muddle, I’ve developed some tools for clearing it. Each of them can be done on the spot as a helpful brain boost. They’re even more effective when you incorporate them into your daily life, as they are actions that can help reduce anxiety over time and keep brain fog at bay.
- Breathe — Your brain needs oxygen to function optimally. Intentionally taking slow, deep breaths bathes your brain in this nourishing gas and impacts your nervous system, switching off fight-or-flight and truing on the rest-and-digest mode.
- Eat something healthy — The brain and body are powered by what we eat. Eating good foods for anxiety provides the macro- and micronutrients our brain needs to function well. Avoiding heavily processed foods, including junk food and fast food, and eating whole grains, proteins, fruits, and vegetables boosts brain functioning. Be as careful about what you put in your body as you are with what you put in your car.
- Exercise — Moving your body clears cobwebs from your brain. It boosts neural activity and improves both thoughts and emotions. When you’re feeling as though you’re living in a cotton ball, take a brisk walk, do a short yoga video, do some jumping jacks–anything to send a fresh blood and oxygen supply to your brain.
- Rest — As much as we need to move, we also need to be still. Sleep is important for mental and physical health. Aim for about 7-8 hours of sleep per night (the exact amount you need depends on things like your age and any health conditions you might have; visit with your doctor to determine the right amount of sleep for you personally). For some people, a short daytime nap can be rejuvenating and can help clear brain fog.
- Reduce stimulation — Overstimulation contributes to both anxiety and brain fog. Give your brain a break from screens, lights, noises, and physical sensations by granting yourself some much-needed quiet time. Do something relaxing during this time–something that doesn’t involve technology.
- Spend time in nature — Nature can be very soothing. Even just stepping outdoors for a few moments, breathing in fresh air and appreciating the beauty around you, can reduce stress and anxiety and chase away brain fog.
- Journal — Journaling, no matter how you do it (guided or free-writing, bullet journal or blank page) is an activity that allows you to turn inward, to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams, gratitude and appreciation. It can help you focus your mind to cut through the fog and take charge of anxious thoughts.
- Find flow — Flow is a concept from positive psychology that refers to a state of being in which you’re fully immersed in what you’re doing. When you’re in flow, all other thoughts drop away and you are focused, enjoying what you’re up to in that moment. When you’re in flow, your mind is clear and anxiety isn’t on your radar. Experiment with different hobbies and activities to discover what puts you in a state of flow. (Hint: Flow happens when you are doing something you enjoy that is neither too easy nor too hard.)
- Unleash your creative side — Creativity clears the brain because you’re using it to make something new. You might paint, draw, doodle, craft, play music, or play sports (sports are a physical version of creativity that draw on our physical or body intelligence).
- Connect with others — When we connect with others, in person or via technology, we draw ourselves out of our own head and into a collective experience. It’s an effective way to step out of our own fog and replace it with fresh ideas and enjoyment. Even if you experience social anxiety, cultivating a few friendships can be rewarding.
My Top 2 Tips for Reducing Brain Fog Caused by Anxiety
To pick my personal favorites from this list of strategies is difficult. I’ve incorporated each of these tools into my daily life, and they all contribute to a much-needed and welcome sense of clarity and calm. If I absolutely had to pick my top two tips, though, I’d choose mindfulness and meditation. I invite you to watch the video to learn about how I use them and why they’re helpful.
Keep this list handy as a go-to resource for when you need to clear brain-fog in any given moment. Make these tips do even more for you, though, by turning your favorites into a way of life. Start with just one or two of the tips that you like best, and make them a part of your daily routine. The more you use these strategies, the more effective they will be in reducing your anxiety and clearing brain fog you might experience because of it.
Peterson, T. (2021, January 28). 12 Practical Tips for Helping Anxiety-Related Brain Fog, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, January 28 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2021/1/12-practical-tips-for-helping-anxiety-related-brain-fog
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.