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How To Focus When You Have Anxiety

Write Down Your Thoughts

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Writing down whats making you anxious gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting.

These relaxation tricks are particularly helpful for those who experience anxiety sporadically. They may also work well with someone who has generalized anxiety disorder when theyre in a bind!

However, if you suspect you have GAD, quick coping methods shouldnt be the only kind of treatment you employ. Youll want to find long-term strategies to help lessen the severity of symptoms and even prevent them from happening.

Challenge The Negative Thoughts As They Arise

For example, ask yourself, Do I know for certain that Ill be rejected? Or, Even if the date doesnt work out, does that mean that Im a bad person? The answer to both is of course not.

One of the most important things to do is to try and silence your inner critic while youre on a date. Remember that people actually prefer imperfection. If you make a mistake, it may even increase your likability.

Why Does Anxiety Make Me Procrastinate

When we procrastinate, parts of our brains actually think that the tasks were putting off and the accompanying negative feelings that await us on the other side are somebody elses problem. To make things worse, were even less able to make thoughtful, future-oriented decisions in the midst of stress.

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Quick Ways To Cope With Anxiety

If your anxiety is sporadic and getting in the way of your focus or tasks, there are some quick natural remedies that could help you take control of the situation.

If your anxiety is focused around a situation, such as being worried about an upcoming event, you may notice the symptoms are short-lived and usually subside after the anticipated event takes place.

Try Some Aerobic Activity

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During periods of anxiety, your body is filled with adrenaline. Putting that adrenaline toward aerobic activity can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise has numerous advantages for controlling your anxiety symptoms:

  • Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms.
  • Exercise tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension.
  • Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can improve overall mood.
  • Exercise is linked to healthier breathing.
  • Exercise is a healthy distraction.

Aerobic activity, like light jogging or even fast walking, can be extremely effective at reducing the severity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the anxiety itself.

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Medical Treatment Options For Sleep And Anxiety

Treatment options are available for both insomnia and anxiety. These options include:

  • Medication. Medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or benzodiazepines can help treat anxiety and may address underlying causes of insomnia.
  • Herbal remedies. Melatonin or valerian root may help.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy . This type of therapy can help you change behaviors that keep you awake.
  • Mindfulness and relaxation techniques.Meditation, yoga, exercise, and massage therapy can improve anxiety and sleep.
  • Light therapy.Artificial light may help improve mood and quality of sleep.
  • Sleep restraint. This therapy decreases the amount of time a person is in bed.

To treat both sleep problems and anxiety, healthcare professionals may recommend a combination of medication and therapy.

Can Anxiety Cause Inability To Focus

Anxiety disorder can profoundly impact our lives, beyond the common symptoms of sensitivity to stress. One of the ways anxiety can disrupt our daily lives is through impaired cognitive functioning. Anxiety and inability to focus at work or school appear to be interconnected. As anxiety symptoms escalate, the mind struggles to stay on task. Short-term memory functions are affected by anxiety as well, causing difficulty in remembering tasks or projects that are due, only adding to the work performance challenges.

Nearly one in five American adults are affected by anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Learning techniques that can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and inability to focus is an essential strategy for individuals struggling with an anxiety disorder.

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Try To Focus Your Mental Energy

In order to stop anxious and racing thoughts, try to focus your mental energy on something that you can imagine or something that you can see or hear in your bedroom, says Chloe Sica, a licensed psychologist in New Jersey and New York.

Sica suggests focusing on the white noise of a sound machine or a visual image that you find soothing, such as the crashing waves on a beach or the wind blowing the trees.

If you feel anxious or like you cant sleep, try getting up and gently moving such as walking around or stretching until you feel tired. Its important to avoid watching TV or using screens.

Is Lack Of Concentration A Sign Of Anxiety

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Lack of concentration isnt exclusive to anxiety, but it is a common symptom. You should watch out for additional indicators, like:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Headaches, muscle aches, stomach aches, or other kinds of unexplained pain
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Forgetfulness, memory loss, and other memory problems
  • Suicidal ideation

People often experience depression and anxiety at the same time. If you struggle with one already, its worth seeking medical advice from your healthcare provider to see if both are at play.

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Stop Trying To Please Everyone

One of the main contributors to anxiety at work is our need to please everyone. But its not possible. Were not suggesting you start making enemies of your colleagues by ignoring instructions or by incurring the irritation of your staff by disregarding them when they make legitimate requests. But you can decide what you are capable of doing. If you are upfront about it, peoples expectations will change to suit you, and they wont expect more than you are able to give. If you give the impression that you want to please everyone, its likely that the people you work with often come to you with their requests and complaints. Set your boundaries and your anxiety about pleasing people should reduce.

Have All The Facts About Anxiety At Work

Information is key when seeking to improve how we do anything, particularly at work. You wouldnt try to fix the broken printer without knowing how. Its the same with anxiety. Become informed and you can begin overcoming anxiety at work.

Some of the key signs of anxiety include sleep deprivation, difficulty focusing, fatigue, heart palpitations and even trouble breathing. Anxiety can go far beyond normal levels of stress.

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Prime Your Mind With A Workout

A run or boot camp class will make your memory sharper the next day. And according to psychologist Phillip D. Tomporowski, Ph.D., a kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia, there are two approaches to optimizing this effect: Exercise either before or after soaking in the info you’re aiming to remember. “If you exercise before learning information, the physiological arousal will give you a boost in attention,” says Tomporowski.

Sensory reactions due to increased movement, heart rate, and respiration flow back to your brain, resulting in a spark in neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine all contribute to this enhanced memory magic. On the flip side, if you study and then exercise, another theory holds that you retain that input better thanks to how the hippocampus the brain’s librarian works. Both methods are powerful and have been proved to pump up your recall. So what is the reliable dose that will ultimately help you stay focused? “Twenty minutes at a moderate pace seems to be the region of exercise intensity that systematically produces the effect,” says Tomporowski.

Taking Action To Manage Your Anxiety

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Once you make your way through these three steps, you can start to manage your anxiety daily in ways that allow you to grow as a leader and be more resourceful and productive.

The following tactics can help ground you.

Control what you can

Many faith traditions teach us to accept what we cannot control, without preoccupation or panic. But in the middle of an anxiety attack at work, you probably dont have time for philosophy. So heres what to do when things feel completely off the rails.

Structure your time. A solid body of research shows that improved time management disposition meaning your attitude toward how you organize and value your time has a positive impact on mental health. And its especially crucial when youre gripped by anxiety.

First thing in the morning, create a to-do list and a detailed schedule for your day. I like to do it while having my coffee. You might use 30-minute increments to spell out when youll shower, take a lunch break, make a phone call, or tackle that report that needs to get done. This is what many experts call timeboxing. While youre at it, try to avoid what cognitive behavioral therapy terms cognitive distortions. These are the catastrophic thoughts, self-judgments, and all-or-nothing ideas that often accompany anxiety.

Be careful not to overschedule or overestimate your productivity instead focus on the critical work and leave time to take care of yourself.

Develop techniques for situations you cant control

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Acknowledging And Accepting Your Emotions

A common coping mechanism for leaders is to push through stress, fatigue, and fear. But thats succeeding in spite of your emotions, when its far better to thrive because of your emotions. You have to learn to accept your anxiety even though this may seem uncomfortable or counterintuitive.

Label what youre feeling

Angela Neal-Barnett, an award-winning psychologist, expert on anxiety among African Americans, and author of Soothe Your Nerves, is a firm believer in being honest with yourself. When you name a feeling by saying to yourself Im anxious you can begin to address it. You can learn how anxiety informs your behavior and your decisions and what causes it to surge, which will equip you to manage it.

Adapted from The Anxious Achiever podcast episode The Anxiety of Being the OnlyPortraits by Yann Legendre

No one has to hear you say it. This is for you. Take the time to wallow in your thoughts. Let yourself experience the discomfort of fear and anxiety. Play out worst-case scenarios in your head. Allow your imagination to go wild with catastrophe. Cry. Grieve. But dont turn away. As Alice Boyes, a former clinical psychologist and author of The Anxiety Toolkit, says: The more you try to control your anxiety, the more it fights back.

Adapted from The Anxious Achiever podcast episode Managing the Stress and Uncertainty of CoronavirusPortraits by Yann Legendre

Play detective

Tips To Handle Anxiety At Work And Beat Stress

We are all familiar with the feeling of anxiety at work. Its far more common than many of us realise. Our office environments are overloaded with technology and distractions and we easily feel overwhelmed and stressed, and this can soon spiral into recurring anxiety at work.

There are so many reasons for anxiety at work from the pressure of securing an important client to the hundred and one small stresses of constant deadlines and meetings. In a study by the University of Otago, high-pressure jobs were linked with increased risk for anxiety and depression. Not only does anxiety impact our productivity and reduce our emotional intelligence, it also can disrupt our health and well-being. Unfortunately, work anxiety is never just work anxiety. It intrudes on the rest of our lives as well. Anxiety at work can manifest in many forms from a feeling of unease to a feeling of severe fear.

However, despite this, there are plenty of ways to handle anxiety at work. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most common and treatable mental disorders. Weve combined a list of tips that you can apply to your life right now and help you reduce it. Whether youre the manager of a large group or experience anxiety at work yourself, there are many ways to combat it.

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I Am Incredibly Busy One Writer Friend Said Recently Doing Nothing But Dishes And Taking Walks

Im not alone. Nearly every person Ive mentioned my new preoccupation problem to is dealing with similar issues. Suddenly, it takes a herculean effort to get anything of substance done. I am incredibly busy, one writer friend said recently, doing nothing but dishes and taking walks.

A drawn-out stressful situation can make simple tasks feel more difficult than they used to be

Soft focus

Whats happening is a malfunction of working memory: the ability to grasp incoming information, form it into a cohesive thought, and hold onto it long enough to do what you need to with it.

Think of it as the mental platform for our cognitive operations, for what were thinking now, says Matti Laine, a professor of psychology at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. Working memory is closely related to attention. Youre focusing on some task, some goal, some directive or behaviour you want to get accomplished.

In other words, working memory is the ability to reason in real time, and its a big part of what makes the human brain so powerful. But research has showed that rapidly changing circumstances, worry and anxiety can all have a significant impact on your ability to focus.

Its Okay To Ask For Help

Anxiety and the Inability to Focus: Put Your Mental Health First | HealthyPlace

Remember, its okay to need help sometimes. You deserve support, whether you have anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder , bipolar disorder, or other mental health conditions.

Your work might offer support through a disabilities and benefits package, dont be afraid to use it to access psychiatry services. Youre entitled to unpaid stress leave if your workload is overwhelming. Your organization might also offer mental health days as part of its compensation package.

And, if you have a mental health emergency, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or text HELLO to the crisis text line at 741741. They have people on staff who can talk to you in times of crisis.

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Talk To Someone Who Gets It

If your feelings of anxiety are making it hard to function, you should speak to a health professional. But talking to friends can also help. I have friends who have an anxiety disorder too. When Im feeling really bad, I send them a message telling them how Im feeling.

They might have a new hack I can try, or they can point out something that might have acted as a trigger. But sometimes its just nice to vent to someone who knows how it feels to be in my shoes.

Your Thinking Brain Shuts Down

Your brains top priority is always keeping you alive, and its evolved to accomplish that task well. Basically, worrying is just your brain doing its job. It only becomes a problem when your brains anxiety circuits activate too frequently continually triggering your bodys fear response.

When this happens, your amygdala hijacks your brain and puts the brakes on higher-level thinking. The amygdala is part of your brains limbic system. It acts as the brains threat radar and alarm. When the amygdala is fully engaged, it activates a chain of events preparing your body to mobilize for an emergency. Most of your physical and mental resources get allocated to making sure you survive. Your thinking, rational brain shuts down, and most automatic bodily functions come to a halt.

This stress response was meant to be short-lived to help our ancestors outrun or fight a predator. The physical changes stop when the stressor does. When a threat is ongoing, it creates a state of chronic stress which can have negative lasting consequences for your brain and body.

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Tips To Help With Anxiety

There are many things you can try to help you learn how to manage feelings of anxiety.

Every day, for at least 2 weeks, make a note of how you are feeling at different times of the day.

Rate your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10 and note:

  • what you were doing
  • what you were thinking

This will help you see what situations are most likely to make you anxious. Think of anything you might be able to do to make these situations easier.

Make a list of the things you are anxious about. If you think there are things you can do to help with them, write a plan.

Include in your plan:

  • what you can do about it
  • how you can do it
  • when you will do it

If there are things you can do, do them as soon as possible or set a time for when you can. Start with the small or easiest ones first. Gradually build up to facing your bigger problems or fears.

If the anxiety returns, remind yourself that you have either taken action or have a plan in place.

If you don’t stick to your plan, don’t be too disappointed. Focus on small achievements.

Screen time is the time you spend looking at a device such as a phone, tablet, computer, games console or TV.

Screen time can take up time that could be spent outdoors, socialising or being physically active. It can also expose you to stress, bullying or negativity through social media.

To help manage your screen time:

If your worry is overwhelming, set aside an amount of worry time to go through your worries each day.

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