Will This Last Forever
Mental exhaustion is painful and yes, exhausting. But despite how difficult it may seem in the moment, situations can be lifted and changed. Give the tips listed above a shot, and remember to take it easy giving your mind a break and delegating tasks when needed are crucial to fighting off fatigue.
If youre experiencing extreme symptoms of exhaustion and are unable to change them on your own, it may be time to see a doctor or therapist.
Remember to prioritize your self-care and nurture those protective factors itll pay off in the long run.
Kevin Jiang is a Canadian journalist covering health, science, and a bunch of other neat stuff. Read more from him on .
Reduce Your Sleep Debt
Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. It’s not uncommon for professionals to miss several hours of sleep for a few days in a row. This is a surefire way to invite mental fatigue.
Research shows, on average, Americans lose one hour of sleep each nightmore than two full weeks of slumber every year. This has a negative impact on our health. As the research shows, you can’t train yourself to be a “short sleeper.” What’s more, a study found that the more tired you get, the less tired you feel, which makes you think you’re not shorting yourself. It’s time to earn back your lost sleep: Make it a practice to go to bed when you’re tired and give your body the rest it needs so you can stop mental fatigue in its tracks.
Read more articles on productivity.
How Do I Know Its Not Just Stress
Stress is something that happens to everyone. Mental exhaustion is not, necessarily, said licensed therapist Jor-El Caraballo in an interview with Greatist. Caraballo is the cofounder of NYC-based mental health practice Viva Wellness and has experience tackling issues faced by people identifying as LGBTQIA+ or BIPOC.
Everyone has to deal with to some degree. But mental exhaustion is the culmination and the outcome of stress when it feels like you cant really function as a result of all those factors, he said. You hit this psychological wall.
Similarly, while the symptoms like exhaustion might point to depression, that doesnt necessarily mean the person experiencing exhaustion is depressed.
However, Caraballo warned that if mental exhaustion continues for long enough, it could result in the development of a clinical diagnosis like depression, anxiety, or even PTSD.
Thats why Caraballo stressed the importance of being proactive and stamping out mental exhaustion before the consequences have too much impact on our lives.
Theoretically you could , he said. But as you do that, what is your quality of life during that time?
There are three main areas of life that may contain stressors. These are:
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Why Is Fatigue Important
When you are fatigued, you are less able to think clearly or do physical activities. If you are overwhelmed by fatigue, you have less energy to care for yourself or do things you enjoy. Fatigue can have a negative effect on your mood, physical functioning, attention, concentration, memory and communication. It can interfere with your ability to work or enjoy leisure activities. It can make activities such as driving dangerous.
Prioritize Important Tasks When Your Energy Is Highest
Chances are, you have some insight into when you are at your best. So, if youre a morning person, aim to stack meetings and important obligations first thing. If youre more of an afternoon or evening person, take care of the easier things before tackling more complex tasks. This will help to increase your mental energy.
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You Rarely Have Down Time
If you are constantly feeling overwhelmed and never have time for yourself, or time to relax, you may be suffering from mental fatigue. When you cannot find a spare few minutes to switch off or try something relaxing, this is a problem.
Try going to a day spa, spending time with nature or just having some me time one evening, this can really help. Here is my list of 81 activities to add to your self-care plan today that may motivate you.
If you are feeling as though this is not possible, or you are too overwhelmed and stressed then you could be suffering from mental fatigue.
Anxious Meditation Can Help You ‘relax Into The Uncertainty’ Of The Pandemic
The rise in symptoms of anxiety and depression, which include exhaustion, is a predictable response to the trauma of the pandemic, says Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health at Boston University.
“The definition of a trauma is an event that threatens people’s sense of safety and stability,” which this pandemic is, he adds.
Nearly all of us are grieving the loss of life as we knew it, says Dr. Jennifer Payne, director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center at Johns Hopkins. “We’re just in a completely different world right now,” she says. “A lot of things are not going to go back to the way they were. And so that causes grief and is a normal reaction to a big change.”
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What May Cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Why chronic fatigue syndrome occurs is unclear and complex. Researchers conclude that infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, and other immune deficiencies can be related to chronic fatigue syndrome. Depression, pain, and sleep disturbances frequently occur with chronic fatigue syndrome.
If you suspect chronic fatigue syndrome, you should find a healthcare practitioner who can take a holistic approach to your health and uncover underlying health issues and lifestyle factors that may contribute to your fatigue.
Unfortunately, patients sometimes feel frustrated that they havent been able to get answers from their doctors or by asking . They might see symptoms like chronic fatigue as in their head or they lack motivation or willpower.
Why Talk About Mental Fatigue Now
Yvonne Tran is a senior lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia and has studied the influence of mental fatigue on brain activity. She describes the phenomenon as a âbiological need for recuperative rest, associated with a disinclination for any effort.â
Is it fair to say the stressors of the pandemic, alongside normal stress, could drive mental fatigue?
âYes, definitely,â Tran tells me. âI think that mental effort and mental fatigue are closely related, especially in regard to neural responseâ¦ with the additional stressors of the pandemic combined with work and life in general, this would lead to mental fatigue.â
Russell explains that any task that triggers cognitive lifts â including, but not limited to, information processing, working memory, sustained attention, and emotional regulation â can result in cognitive load and subsequent mental fatigue.
âIn addition to the normal emotional stressors of life, the uncertainty and change associated with the pandemic has arguably increased the emotional regulation demands placed on an individual, contributing to potentially elevated levels of mental fatigue,â she says.
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Stress Vs Mental Exhaustion
Stress is something everyone experiences from time to time. Its our bodys natural response to positive and negative situations that are new, exciting, or scary.
This biological response results in a surge of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. This boost of hormones helps us react quickly to perceived threats and high-pressure situations that require quick thinking. Once the stressor has been removed, your body should go back to normal.
Mental exhaustion is usually the result of long-term stress. When youre continually dealing with things that activate your bodys stress response, your cortisol levels remain high. Eventually, this begins to interfere with normal body functions, such as digestion, sleep, and your immune system.
Symptoms Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Doctors have narrowed down some of the triggers for chronic fatigue syndrome. Everyone is different, though, and may experience symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome differently, but theCenters for Disease Control and doctors classifychronic fatigue syndrome as having at least four of the following physical symptoms for at least six months:
- Post-exertional malaise
- Unrefreshing sleep
Chronic fatigue syndrome can only be diagnosed when other diseases have been ruled out, but thats the problem: You may experience fatigue as a symptom of other health conditions.
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Cultivate A Positive Attitude
If your mind is already on overload, downer thoughts can make problems seem that much heavier. Negativity brings a lot of emotional baggage that can add to an already-overloaded mind, says Ivankovich. Take time throughout the day to reflect on the positive things in your lifebecause we all have positive things. Try keeping a journal, writing down three positive things about your day just before bed, and check in with how youre feeling when you wake up.
Missed Milestones To Faded Friendships: The Unacknowledged Grief Of 2020
However, the trauma is much bigger for individuals directly affected by the pandemic, says Galea. That includes those who’ve lost loved ones, lost a job or housing, struggled with child care, or have had COVID-19 themselves some of whom report continuing to experience exhaustion that’s thought to be associated with the viral infection.
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Rule Out Health Problems
Many medications can contribute to fatigue. These include some blood pressure medicines, antihistamines, diuretics, and other drugs. If you begin to experience fatigue after starting a new medication, tell your doctor.
Embrace The Power Nap
Finally, if your brain is on overload, or it feels like your mind is about to melt, shut it down, unplug it, and take a nap. Seriously.
Naps, especially power naps, are the equivalent of plugging in your smartphone in the middle of the day to get a little extra charge.
You may not be tired. You may still have plenty of gas in the tank. But a quick nap between 10 to 30 minutes can get your energy and performance back to their early morning levels.
Albert Einstein used naps to power his brain. His strategy was to hold something in his hand that would make a loud noise when it hit the floor. He would then settle into his armchair and nap until his hand relaxed and the thing he was holding hit the floor. This would allow him to drift into a light doze without falling into a deep sleep.
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Its Ok To Disconnect Sometimes: How To Prevent Mental Fatigue & Information Overload
Did you see the news yesterday?! Try out this new diet! Subscribe to this online fitness class! Dont forget about that deadline!
We hear phrases like these daily, and a pandemic only increases the noise making mental clarity feel illusive.
Information Overload and Mental Fatigue, there are entire companies and products dedicated to solving these issues. But, without a definitive end on the horizon, time has not been the universal healer we are used to, and our mental fatigue is worsening.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation poll from July 2020, 53% of adults in the U.S. said that worry and stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively affected their mental health more than 20% higher than the 32% reported just a few months earlier in March.
As we spend more time in our apartments and homes, like airline flights gliding thousands of miles over our heads, hours, days, and months can fly by rapidly and inconspicuously leaving us behind, locked into the same chair, hoodie, and sweatpants from pandemics start.
Cal Newport, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University and the author of Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, discusses digital burnout, information overload, and solitude deprivation. He writes:
Solitude Deprivation a state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your own thoughts and free from input from other minds . . .
Improving Your Sleep Schedule
Sometimes, it can seem impossible to prioritize getting 7 8 hours sleep every night. However, improving the quality of your sleep can really help with your mental and physical health.
Mindfulness, reading or other relaxing activities, and having a screen-free hour before bed can help to increase your chances of an undisturbed, quality nights sleep.
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Play Some Mindless Cell Phone Games
Thats right! They can occasionally serve a purpose, and this is one of those times, Ivankovich says. In order to relax from mental fatigue, you take time away from your stressors. For many people, 10 or 15 minutes of mindless activity can give the mind a reboot, allowing you to get back to the work at hand.
Give Yourself Permission To Relax
People often complain about not having enough time, but they sometimes don’t recognize their mental exhaustion. Here are 5 simple tips to recharge mentally that don’t require much of a commitment or the use of energy you don’t have.
1. Spot small opportunities to rest your mind.
Like many people, whenever I have a spare second you’ll find me clicking around on my phone. I like to do this, except when I’m feeling mentally exhausted. If I know I need to rest my mind, I’ll use those little spaces of time to do some “mindfulness lite.” This is usually as simple as just feeling the physical sensation of my body standing, and doing some slow breathing. You can pay attention to any physical sensatione.g., the feeling of your feet making contact with the ground, or the positioning of your hips or shoulders. This is mindfulness for real life and it doesn’t need to be complicated.
2. Reduce excess sensory input, or go mono-sensory.
Take a break from excess light and noise. Spend a few minutes sitting in a dark, silent room and notice how relaxing it is.
Take steps to reduce the excess sensory input you encounter in a typical day. For example, wear headphones on the subway, turn off the TV when you’re not watching it, use night shift mode on your phone, and/or get some blackout curtains. Do whatever will reduce excess, unpleasant sensory input in your life.
3. Give yourself permission to relax.
4. Stop being unrealistic about how much you can get done.
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How To Fight Fatigue And Get Your Energy Back
Fatigue is only vaguely defined, and we all feel fatigued from time to time. But chances are if you’re here, you may be dealing with chronic fatigue.
Chronic fatigue is a brutal mix of constantly feeling weak with no energy or motivation. This kind of unrelenting exhaustion is a nearly constant state of weariness that reduces energy and motivation, even sapping your ability to concentrate. Fatigue with this consistency impacts your psychological and emotional well-being.
Unlike temporary or circumstantial fatigue, what makes chronic fatigue so tough is that these feelings dont typically go away with sleep and rest.
It’s not clear how many people experience chronic fatigue in the United States given its varied definitions and symptoms. Researchers estimate somewhere between seven and 45 percent of adults are fatigued frequently.
Fatigue is challenging to study because most people dont even know something is “wrong.” Getting older means your body changes, work or family stresses mean less sleep, and many people just assume that feeling fatigued is part of life.
But chronic fatigue is not normal and could signify a much larger problem.
Choose To Set The Mental Tone Of Your Day
Which do you think is going to better influence having a mentally easier day?
- Starting the day getting up late, having breakfast of coffee laden with sugar whilst you listen to the tragedies of the world news on the television OR
- Waking up earlier, doing five minutes of stretching to calm music, listening to an inspiring podcast that gives you ideas and solutions and having a nourishing breakfast, smoothie or juice?
Choose how you want your day to start. Make easy simple changes and practice sticking to them each day.
Even if you face a disaster first thing upon arriving at the office, your brain is already riding a relaxed wave that puts you in a clearer mindset to put out those fires than if you have already started the day in a stressed mental state.
Give yourself a head start!
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Dont Be Afraid To Say No
We all have certain work, school, or home responsibilities we cant avoid on top of commitments to friends and family. Trying to do everything or make everyone happy can run you dry.
Saying no can be difficult. You might even want to take on extra responsibilities at work to prove your worth, especially if youre seeking a raise or promotion. And who doesnt feel bad about having to turn down a loved one asking for help?
But remember: Youre just one person. Its simply not possible to support everyone in your life all the time. Support your own needs and practice saying no when you dont feel up to helping out or if youre already burdened with other projects or tasks.
If you regret not being able to help, you can always soften your refusal by saying something like, I wish I could help, but Ive got a lot to deal with right now. Please keep me in mind if you need help in the future.
See your healthcare provider if:
If your symptoms seem more physical than emotional, it may help to start by talking to your primary healthcare provider, who can help you narrow down a possible cause.
If youre dealing with mostly mental health symptoms, consider talking to a therapist or asking your healthcare provider for a referral. Even a few sessions with a mental health professional can help you better understand your mental exhaustion and come up with ways to combat it.