Cognitive Stress: What It Is and How to Reduce It

cognitive stress

Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed at work? Do you have trouble focusing and completing tasks? You may be suffering from cognitive stress. In this blog post, we will discuss what cognitive stress is, and how you can reduce it to improve your productivity.

What Is Cognitive Stress? Explaining Cognitive Stress

Cognitive stress is psychological stress that can occur when we feel overwhelmed by the demands placed on our cognitive resources, such as our memory, attention, and problem-solving abilities.

When we experience cognitive stress, we may feel like our mental resources are inadequate to meet the demands placed on them. This can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, and even despair.

What Are The Symptoms?

  • headaches
  • tightness in the chest
  • gastrointestinal issues
  • difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • forgetfulness or memory problems
  • feeling overwhelmed or like you can’t keep up
  • constant worrying or ruminating thoughts
  • indecisiveness or feeling paralyzed by choices
  • feeling like your mind is always racing
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep due to racing thoughts

The above-mentioned are some common symptoms of cognitive stress.

What Are The Causes?

 A variety of things cause cognitive stress such as:

Overloaded Information

causes of cognitive stress

When people are constantly bombarded with new information and have to process it all quickly, it results in mental fatigue.

The sheer volume of information coming at them is overwhelming, and they can’t keep up. This causes their brain to become overloaded, and they start to feel stressed out.

One example of this is when people are constantly checking their email or social media notifications. They’re always looking for something new, and if they don’t find it, they feel anxious. This constant search for novelty wears down our cognitive resources and makes us feel stressed.

Multitasking Behavior

Another cause is when we try to multitask. Our brain isn’t really designed to handle multiple tasks at once, but we often try to do too many things at once anyway. This leads to cognitive overload and stress.

Additionally, cognitive stress can be caused by worry, anxiety, and other negative emotions. When people are feeling stressed, their thinking can become more negative and pessimistic, which can lead to even more stress.

Excessive Worry 

When we’re constantly worried about something, our mind is in a state of flux. We’re never really able to relax and this can have a negative impact on our cognitive abilities. Worrying about things that are out of our control can also lead to cognitive stress.

For example, if you’re constantly worrying about your job security or whether or not you’ll get that big promotion, then you’re likely going to experience some cognitive stress.

Physical Factors

If you are constantly exposed to loud noise, it can lead to cognitive stress because your brain is working hard to try to filter out the noise. This can lead to fatigue and make it difficult to concentrate.

Additionally, if you have an unhealthy lifestyle, it can also contribute to cognitive stress. If you don’t eat healthy foods or exercise regularly, your body and mind will not be as healthy as they could be, and this can lead to increased levels of cognitive stress. So, as you can see, there are many physical factors that can cause cognitive stress.

What Are The Consequences?

Cognitive stress can lead to a wide range of negative consequences in this regard such as

Difficulty Concentrating

consequences of cognitive stress

Cognitive stress can cause us to feel overwhelmed and bogged down. This can make it difficult to focus on any one task, as our mind is constantly jumping from one thing to the next.

Second, it can lead to anxiety and worry, which can again make it difficult to focus on anything else. Finally, having cognitive stress can actually damage the brain over time, making it more difficult to concentrate and remember things.

Poor Decision Making

The type of psychological stress occurs when we feel overwhelmed by the amount of huge information we have to process. This can lead to cognitive overload, which impairs our ability to make decisions.

One example of cognitive overload is when we are trying to remember a list of items, and our mind keeps going blank. This happens because we are trying to hold too much information in our working memory, and it becomes overloaded. Another example is when we are bombarded with too many choices and cannot decide which one to choose.

Increased Anxiety And Worry

Cognitive stress occurs when an individual perceives that their abilities are being challenged or strained. This can happen in response to a variety of situations, such as taking a test, working on a difficult project, or having to make an important decision. Thus people feel increased anxiety and worry, as well as other negative emotions such as frustration and irritability.

Irritability And Moodiness

When we’re under cognitive stress, we’re more likely to focus on the negative aspects of a situation and dwell on them. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and general unhappiness.

Additionally, cognitive stress can also lead to physical symptoms like headaches and muscle tension. These physical symptoms can then exacerbate feelings of irritability and moodiness. If you find yourself feeling irritable or moody more often than not, it may be worth considering whether cognitive stress is a contributing factor.

Sleep Problems

Cognitive stress can lead to sleep problems in a few different ways. One way is by causing you to worry about things that you need to do or that you are worried will happen. This can lead to racing thoughts and make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Another way it can impact your sleep is by making it difficult for you to focus on relaxing and sleeping when you are trying to go to bed. Your mind may be going over everything that happened during the day or what needs to happen tomorrow, which makes it hard to relax.


Cognitive stress can lead to physical tension in the body, which can then lead to headaches. Second, it can lead to changes in brain chemistry that can cause headaches.

Finally, it triggers the release of hormones that can cause headaches. All of these mechanisms are interconnected and can contribute to the development of headaches.

Upset Stomach or Digestive Problems

Cognitive stress can lead to a number of physical symptoms, including upset stomach or digestive problems. These problems can be caused by the body’s fight-or-flight response, which is triggered by cognitive stress.

When the body is in a state of fight-or-flight, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can interfere with the proper functioning of the digestive system, leading to an upset stomach or other digestive problems.

How Can Therapies Help?

There are various therapies that may help. Some of them are as follows: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

cognitive stress therapies

One type of therapy is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which can help people learn how to change negative thinking patterns and behaviors.

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps people learn how to change negative thinking patterns and behaviors. It has been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including cognitive stress. In CBT, people work with a therapist to identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviors.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy

Another type of therapy, called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, can help people become more aware of their thoughts and feelings in the present moment. MBCT combines elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with mindfulness practices. Mindfulness is the act of paying attention to the present moment without judgment.

In MBCT, people learn how to become more aware of their thoughts and feelings in the present moment. They also learn how to accept these thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or bad. Additionally, MBCT can help people learn how to let go of thoughts and feelings that are no longer helpful.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation can also be helpful in reducing cognitive stress. Yoga is a mind-body practice that involves physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. Meditation is a technique that helps people focus their attention on the present moment. Research has shown that both yoga and meditation can help reduce cognitive stress.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to find what works best for you. Therefore, it is important to speak with a mental health professional to determine what type of therapy may be best for you.

How Taking Medications May Help?  cognitive stress medicines

Medications help improve cognitive function. They help increase levels of certain neurotransmitters that help to protect the brain from damage.

Another way that taking medications may help is by reducing anxiety and depression.  Finally, taking medication may also help improve sleep quality, reducing cognitive stress.

Medications that act on the melatonin system or the circadian rhythm can be helpful in this regard. If you are struggling with cognitive stress, talk to your doctor about whether any of these options might be right for you.

How Self-Care Strategies May Help? self care strategies for cognitive stress

There are a number of things you can do to help reduce cognitive stress in your life. Here are some lifestyle habits that may help:

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for overall health and well-being. Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise has a number of benefits for mental health, including reducing cognitive stress. A moderate amount of exercise is the key here.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet helps improve mood and reduces cognitive stress. Be sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet, and limit processed and sugary foods.
  • Take breaks during the day: When you’re feeling cognitively stressed, take a few minutes to step away from whatever is causing the stress. Take a walk, listen to music, or just take some time to relax and clear your mind.
  • Connect with others: Whether you stay in touch via text, social media, or in person, quality time with those you care about is crucial for reducing stress.
  • Make time for vacations: Use your vacation days. Make sure to take some time off from work each year. Even a weekend getaway can be helpful for reducing cognitive stress levels.
  • Help the needy if you can: Donating your time or money to a worthy cause can help you feel good about yourself and reduce cognitive stress.

Cognitive stress can be tough to deal with, but there are a number of things you can do to reduce it. Try incorporating some of these lifestyle habits into your life and you may find that they help more than you thought.


Cognitive stress is a mental state characterized by fatigue, worry, and mental impairment. There are several ways to reduce cognitive stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help. the right treatment plan will help manage this problem for sure.

For more information, please contact MantraCare. Stress can have both physical and mental effects on the body, leading to negative consequences such as anxiety, depression, and even physical illnesses. If you have any queries regarding Online Stress Counseling experienced therapists at MantraCare can help: Book a trial Stress therapy session

Try MantraCare Wellness Program free

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.