Anxiety doesn’t make it easy for anyone to think clearly or focus on daily tasks — from office work to reading a book normally found enjoyable. Given their anxiety, anxious people often attribute their inability to concentrate or be productive to an inherent flaw. In reality, it’s the anxiety itself that’s putting their brains in overdrive, forcing them to focus on any little fray or distraction that comes their way.

A new study aims to help anxiety sufferers learn to focus better and reduce their racing, panicked thoughts. Researchers from Michigan State University created a “brain game” that uses shapes to help people avoid distractions.

The researchers examined participants who had both low and high anxiety in the study. They gave them a focus task that involved choosing a specific shape out of a series of shapes, afterward threw in a distraction by mixing in different colored shapes, and found that even the anxious people didn’t get distracted thanks to the previous focus exercise, which had improved their ability to concentrate on specific things.

“Down the line we could roll out an online or mobile game based on this research that specifically targets distraction and helps people stay focused and feel less anxious,” Jason Moser, an author of the study, said in the press release. “There have been other studies of video game-type interventions for anxiety, but none have used a specific and simple game that targets distraction.”

According to the Calm Clinic, when an anxious person feels scattered and distracted, it’s not that they’re not concentrating. Instead, the brain is working extra hard to concentrate — but it’s frayed in too many different directions. “What’s interesting is that calling them concentration problems may be misleading,” the website states. “Often you ARE concentrating — you’re simply concentrating on the wrong things, like your anxiety and the way it makes you feel.”

Previous studies have shown that anxiety often causes people’s brains to go into overdrive — ultimately resulting in mental burnout and exhaustion. A 2012 study also out of Michigan State University found that anxiety, specifically among girls, made their brains burn out faster when learning new things.

“Anxious girls’ brains have to work harder to perform tasks because they have distracting thoughts and worries,” Moser, who was an author of this study as well, said in the press release. “As a result their brains are being kind of burned out by thinking so much, which might set them up for difficulties in school.”

Until a mobile game appears, there are several ways to battle anxiety and distracting thoughts in order to improve your focus. You can try to drown out your worrisome thoughts by adding in a “sensory stimulation,” like music or TV in the background. You can also journal, and get your thoughts out on paper, so they’re less invasive in your mind. Finding a quiet place in which distractions — like noise, the Internet, or co-workers — are limited can make it easier for your brain to focus on one thing at a time.

Source: Moser J, Moran T, Leber A. Manipulating attention to non-emotional distractors influences state anxiety: A proof of concept study in low- and high-anxious college students. Behavior Therapy. 2015.