Sometimes we all get a little bit distracted, it happens. We’re trying to focus and our phone goes off, or we get distracted by something outside or by other people – there’s loads of distractions. In short bursts, this isn’t a problem, it can even help us refocus on our task, but when you’re dealing with anxiety, distraction can happen more often and heavily impact our day-to-day life.
As with a lot of symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze.
Why Can Anxiety Make Me Distracted?
When our body goes into fight, flight or freeze mode we become hyperstimulated and hypersensitive. This means that we’re highly alert to everything that’s going on around us and all the sensations that are going on within you. That’s a lot of stimulation to deal with and a lot of distractions, making it difficult to focus on the threat at hand. This therefore causes further anxiety because we don’t feel like we’re focused enough on the threat to deal with it.
Even when this survival response ends, it can take a while for our body to recover leaving us feeling apprehensive and still a bit on edge about what’s going to happen next. This is really common with anxiety as a lot of our time is focused on over analysing the past which we can’t change, or hypothesizing about the future which we can’t control. As a result, we seem more distracted.
How Can I Stop This Symptom?
In order to combat the parts of this symptom that stem from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing and allow yourself to focus on the present moment. This should calm our central nervous system, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our system to become less stimulated.
However, with prolonged low moods, you need to consider managing or building strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.