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Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

May 10, 2017 · 4 min read

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time or energy to do it, you might be suffering from mental fatigue. While everyone feels this way from time to time, it’s the first step on the way to total burnout and more serious symptoms.

Here are eight indications you need to help your mind recover from mental fatigue.

Stress messes with your sleep cycle, s o one of the first symptoms you’ll likely notice is a change in those patterns. This may make you more prone to sleep, or it may make you incapable of it. If you’re really unlucky, it’ll do both, and you’ll be drowsy all day and up all night. Sleep is an important factor of both physical and mental health, and problems with your circadian rhythm are a warning that other things are going to go wrong (or already have).

Memory issues can be a result of insomnia; the brain can’t retain information as effectively when it hasn’t had enough sleep. The inability to retain or recall information is evidence that your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders. So if you find that you have to keep everything written down, even minor things, in order to keep from forgetting them, you may have a problem with mental fatigue.

Just like your computer slows down when too many browser tabs are open, your brain also struggles to keep up when too many things are going on. Even if you’re trying to focus on a single task at a time, background stressors may be gumming up the works. When stress levels increase, your brain sometimes hits the brakes, making it hard to think and process basic skills that you otherwise would have no problem thinking through.

If you’re easily confused, struggle to deal with sensory input, have difficulty concentrating, or you often have to ask people to repeat themselves, that’s another indication something’s amiss. In addition to processing difficulties, your brain may not be prepared to accept new information, which could be part of the reason you’re not remembering some details.

The dreaded mental ball and chain. Often associated with anxiety and depression, a lack of energy and motivation is a serious problem for anyone who wants to stay productive. If you have to fight even to make it to the couch to watch Netflix, let alone put pants on and go to work, you’ve got some mental fatigue that you need to do something about.

You may notice an increase in anxiety, irritability, anger, sadness, and other negative emotions. If you experience mood swings, struggle to be happy, and people have to walk on eggshells around you, then your brain isn’t behaving the way it should.

Like sleep, eating can be affected by stress in strange ways. You may find your lack of motivation extends to eating, and you have neither the energy to cook food, nor to eat it. Or, conversely, you may find that you reach more often for comfort food, and in increased portions. Frequent fast food trips and daily junk food runs are far from healthy, and their presence in your diet indicates the brain is not coping well with the stress it’s being asked to tackle.

Because the brain is attached to the body, there are bound to be some ripple effects when it comes to mental fatigue. When mental problems and stress create physical pains and discomfort, we call this a psychosomatic symptom, and it happens more often than you might think. The list of possible symptoms is pretty long, too.

Headaches are obvious examples, but stress hormones in the body shut down the digestive system, too. Stomach pains, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea are all side effects. A stressed mind also means the body will be slow to recover from injuries and disease. Restlessness, teeth grinding, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, fainting, and dizziness are all on the list, too.

If your brain and your body are acting out of line, it’s probably time to consult with a physician.

While these 8 symptoms might seem daunting, it’s possible to ease mental fatigue and avoid burnout. The first things your doctor is likely to recommend are:

  • Getting adequate rest
  • Giving yourself plenty of downtime
  • Improving your diet
  • Exercising regularly

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When your stress level has been elevated and you feel weighed down, you could be experiencing mental fatigue. Spending long periods of time in a hectic environment or feeling constant anxiety can affect more than just your physical being. The brain controls the body, so mental fatigue can become serious. Here are five signs of mental fatigue along with ways you can fight it.

1. There’s Too Much Going OnSigns of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Feeling overwhelmed is one thing, but when you become aware of the sounds, smells, sights, mental activity and physical movement surrounding you, it’s a sign that you’ve gone past the feeling of being overwhelmed. There’s too much going on around you to be able to focus or get anything done, and it’s extremely uncomfortable. Too much data coming from all of your senses can cause mental fatigue.

Try this: Shut off the devices that you can control, like music, a fan, the television or lights that are flickering. Get rid of anything that is distracting you that you don’t need, and try to focus on one thing. If someone is talking to you, turn toward them and make eye contact to give them your full attention, and forget trying to multi-task for a while.

2. You’re Always BusySigns of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

If you can’t remember the last time you sat down and read a good book, took a bubble bath, walked through a park or just relaxed, it’s a sign that you’ve been on the go for too long. Taking time for yourself is completely necessary in order to unwind and give your brain a rest. Constantly working, moving and taking care of others can put stress on your mind and body.

Try this: Do your best to free up your calendar a little. Just because you have a free day doesn’t mean you need to plan something. Saying no or asking a friend to reschedule is perfectly okay. Spending time alone is the best way to relax and de-stress. Try to give yourself time each day to do something you love. If you have a whole day free, even better. Relax on the beach, go for a hike, treat yourself to a spa day, or spend the whole day in your pajamas! Do whatever makes you happy and allows you to relax.

3. You’re Feeling More EmotionalSigns of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Anxiety and even depression can be symptoms of mental fatigue. If you’re feeling hopeless or constantly anxious, it’s a sign that your mental energy is low. Your emotions may be all over the place. You might find yourself crying or getting angry for no reason.

Try this: Pinpoint what is causing your mental fatigue. Is it a job, a person or a life situation? While some things may be out of your control, do what you can to remedy the problem. Making a change may be the only way to relieve your anxiety and calm your mind.

4. You’re Experiencing Physical SymptomsSigns of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Mental fatigue can often manifest as physical problems. Headaches, a repeatedly upset stomach, loss of appetite and insomnia can all be signs of mental fatigue. Your mental health isn’t the only thing being affected.

Try this: If you’re experiencing severe physical symptoms, consult a health care professional. Some downtime is the best way to relieve mental fatigue, but if you need help managing your stress and anxiety, consider visiting a therapist.

5. You Have a Mental BlockSigns of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

If you’re experiencing a mental block, it’s a sign that you’ve been so mentally drained that it’s affecting your ability to think, process information and make decisions. If your work, home life, happiness or creativity is beginning to suffer, it’s time to do something about it.

Try this: Researchers studying mental fatigue found that mental blocking, or an inability to continue a train of thought, acts as an automatic safeguard to prevent an individual from continuing to work. When mental blocking kicks in, your brain is desperately trying to tell you to slow down. Shut off your electronics and take a much-needed day off to relax and give your mind a break.

Written by Mohan Garikiparithi
| –> Mental Health | –> Published on April 26, 2017

Mental exhaustion is a common occurrence and is a result of brain over-activity. Feelings of being overwhelmed by tasks at work or responsibilities to children and family members can leave you with feelings of frustration and mental unrest. You may also find yourself becoming envious of others you perceive as being more relaxed or laid back, as your level of mental stress can make you detest those who seem to have it easier.

When you spend a lot of mental effort on a task, you become mentally exhausted. Though manageable at first, over time, your ability to maintain your focus becomes hampered. This may leave you with an inability to concentrate, performing more mistakes than normal. Feelings of being stressed, irritated, and even depressed can lead you into a downward spiral, potentially affecting your health and the people around you.

What are the signs and symptoms of mental exhaustion?

Mental exhaustion can be easily recognized as feelings of being “burnt out” from excess, long-term stress—it is something we have all experienced before. Symptoms may initially present subtly, but over time, they become worse. It is important to note that mental exhaustion may eventually manifest as physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms, as all these attributes are connected to the organ receiving the blunt of the mental stressors: the brain.

  • Physical symptoms: This may include feelings of being tired most of the time, an increased tendency for becoming sick, frequent headaches, back pain, or muscle aches. You may also notice changes in appetite and sleep habits.
  • Emotional symptoms: This can manifest as feelings of helplessness, as you feel trapped and defeated by your overwhelming sense of mental stress. The sense of self-doubt and failure may encompass the majority of your thoughts throughout the day, leading you to isolate yourself and develop a pessimistic view of the world and life in general.
  • Behavioral symptoms: You may notice yourself not spending as much time with your friends and family because you feel too tired to make the effort. Procrastination and withdrawing from previous responsibilities can also be a sign of mental exhaustion. Your eating habits may change as well, whether it’s eating more or eating less. The use of alcohol or drugs to help cope with increased levels of stress may also be a predictor of increased mental stress levels.

What causes mental exhaustion?

Mental exhaustion does not necessarily occur in one fell swoop, but instead, it slowly accumulates over time. Being overworked, having too many responsibilities, or simply having too much going on in your life can cause you to reach an eventual boiling point, where your mind and body cannot cope anymore. This is when symptoms start to manifest.

When our capacity for dealing with stress becomes depleted, it may knock us back into a state of perpetual mental fatigue. This can even lead to potentially serious health issues such as depression, heart disease, chronic illness, and autoimmune disorders.

Mental exhaustion complications

Mental exhaustion can take a toll on virtually every aspect of a person’s life. Poor work performance due to decreased productivity can lead to negative consequences at your job, such as demotion or termination. Your irritability and poor mood could affect the people around you, leading to conflict with friends and loved ones. Your level of mental exhaustion may also affect how you perform during physical tasks, as the brain may perceive simple tasks as being arduous and tiring due to your lack of motivation.

How to recover from mental exhaustion?

The mind and body are quite resilient and are capable of making a full recovery from the most harmful of physical injuries, and this holds true for mental exhaustion as well. The biggest challenge is to admit a change needs to be made in order to recharge mentally and not feel guilty about it. The following are some simple tips that don’t require much energy but will set you on a path toward mental rejuvenation.

  • Find the time to relax: One of the biggest reasons for stress accumulation is the lack of time allocation to relieve it. If you have no outlet to relieve stress, it will continually build up and start to manifest into stress-related symptoms. Finding a spare minute here and there to collect your thoughts without distraction can help ease your mind. Spending some time to destress after work in a quiet location can help balance your stress level throughout the rest of the day.
  • Reduce sensory stimulation: Being around excess noise and light can bombard the senses, leading to stress. Your body is most relaxed when sitting in a dimly lit, quiet room with minimal distraction. Constant sensory stimulation from electronic devices, such as a television or smartphone, can cause eye fatigue, leading to headaches and even insomnia. If at all possible, visiting a local park for the weekend can help give you a sensory reset.
  • Prioritize: Not all things are worth doing, and some of the unimportant aspects of your life may be the biggest contributors to your stress. Recognizing the things that you hold near and dear to you and letting go of the unnecessary baggage that may be mental exhaustion causes can be a cathartic experience and a great method for mental exhaustion recovery.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Mental exhaustion can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted. Similarly, physical fatigue or chronic stress can also result in mental exhaustion.

Some tips to relieve mental exhaustion include practicing mindfulness and making certain environmental changes, either at work or at home.

This article will discuss the symptoms of mental exhaustion, how it differs from stress and physical exhaustion, and how a person can overcome mental exhaustion.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Share on Pinterest Mental and physical stress can both contribute to mental exhaustion.

Mental exhaustion can manifest in many different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Emotional

  • low emotional resilience
  • feeling stressed or anxious
  • irritability with other people
  • feelings of helplessness
  • chronic feelings of being overwhelmed
  • low motivation
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts

Physical

  • feeling physically fatigued
  • sleep issues, such as sleeping too much or too little
  • unexplained aches and pains, such as headaches or muscle pain

Behavioral

  • increased arguments with loved ones
  • feeling distracted or on edge when spending time with loved ones
  • using substances, such as alcohol, as a coping mechanism
  • procrastinating
  • memory difficulties

The right strategy for dealing with mental exhaustion will vary depending on the reason for the exhaustion. For example, a person who feels burned out at work needs different support from a person who feels exhausted after a long recovery from an injury.

In general, however, these strategies may help:

  • Changing working conditions: When a job causes a person to feel fatigued, making a change in their work life may improve things. For example, a person might need more time off, a reduction in their workload, or more support from colleagues.
  • Practicing good self-care: Exercising, eating a healthful diet, getting plenty of sleep, and staying hydrated can all help improve a person’s resilience. This may ease symptoms of mental exhaustion or prevent its onset.
  • Trying mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, help a person become more aware of their emotions. This can make it easier to manage burnout, fatigue, or depression.
  • Making medication changes: Some people find that certain drugs, including some antidepressants, cause them to feel fatigued . People should consult a doctor about whether or not a different drug might be more beneficial.
  • Seeking therapy: Seeking mental health support, such as seeing a therapist, can help a person better deal with stress. A therapist can also recommend positive lifestyle changes that may reduce the impact of stress.
  • Seeking mental healthcare: People with mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression need treatment. It is not possible for them to “think” themselves out of the condition, and delaying treatment may actually increase exhaustion .

Anything that drains a person’s emotional resources can cause them to start feeling mentally exhausted.

This can happen due to:

  • Burnout: This tends to happen when a person works too much with no breaks or when their job is very emotionally demanding. For example, half of physicians report burnout.
  • Chronic stress: Although mental exhaustion is not the same thing as stress, chronic exposure to stress can exhaust the body. People who often feel stressed may remain in a constant state of fight-or-flight, causing intense exhaustion .
  • Mental health conditions: People with certain mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, may feel exhausted. Some continue to report exhaustion even after their other symptoms improve , while others experience fatigue as a side effect of some antidepressants.
  • Physical injuries and exhaustion: Physical fatigue, illness, and injuries can all cause a person to feel mentally exhausted — particularly after long periods of athletic training.

Although stress can cause mental exhaustion, the two are not the same. A person who feels stressed may experience:

  • anxiety
  • frustration
  • panic
  • pressure to succeed

If you think it’s all about how much you sleep, you need to read on.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

What does it mean to feel energetic?

Watching children play, adults marvel at their energy. Can’t we feel energetic as well? The answer is yes, although as we age, it is normal to experience less vigor. This fatigue is not entirely due to the physical process of aging. Stress increases as we age—we may have big mortgages, car payments, increasing responsibility at work, ill parents, medical conditions, or children to raise. And we often play less—those who are younger are often better at prioritizing socializing, trying new things and having fun, while we can become bogged down in responsibility and forget to do the things that fill us up.

Adults also tend to decrease their activities as they get older—and less activity is associated with greater fatigue. It can mean poorer physical conditioning, too, which means that less activity is needed to produce muscle strain. Fatigue is functional; it can help protect us against overexertion. However, our bodies are also sensitive to too little activity. So although fatigue is often associated with not wanting to do anything, paradoxically, sometimes we need to increase activity to shake off the cobwebs. Too often we take the cues of fatigue as a sign that we must do less.

As someone who treats sleep disorders, most of the people I see attribute their lack of energy to difficulties sleeping. Interestingly, when we test whether how someone sleeps on a specific night predicts fatigue the next day and vice versa, there isn’t a consistent relationship, so the fact that sleep is so often blamed for fatigue is interesting.

We once asked people complaining about sleep to list what accounted for their fatigue. After their list was complete, for each factor they listed, we asked them to rate the proportion of their fatigue for which the factor accounted. We were surprised to see some very short lists. Sleep was at the top of everyone’s list and it often was listed as the only factor; that is, they believed it accounted for 100% of their issues with energy). We then split the group of people in half. With half of the group, we spent time teaching them about the many causes of fatigue. With the other half, we spent time teaching them about the causes of sleep problems. Afterward, we asked them if they would make any changes to their original list of what accounts for them feeling tired.

Unlike the group that learned about sleep (whose list remained unchanged), the group that learned about fatigue began listing many more factors. They acknowledged how stress, depressed mood, and anxiety contributed to feeling fatigue. They listed nutritional choices, dehydration, or the withdrawal symptoms that occur hours after their last coffee. They began to remember how fatigue occurred with physical overexertion but also after periods of inactivity. They recognized that fatigue commonly occurred with boredom or monotonous tasks. They recognized that they felt increasingly tired in the hour or two after lunch, and after learning that this was due to a daily, temporary drop in body temperature, called the post-lunch dip, they cited this as a causal factor for their fatigue.

After submitting the new list, we asked them questions about their sleep and the group that learned about fatigue said that they felt less anxious about sleep and fatigue. They recognized that among multiple culprits of fatigue, there were endless opportunities to address fatigue, and this was associated with feeling more at ease about sleep.

What can we do to feel less fatigued?

If you have persistent fatigue, see your doctor. There are many treatable causes, and fatigue can be a sign of something else that requires medical attention.

Stop blaming fatigue exclusively on sleep. If you have significant insomnia, by all means, seek treatment. However, even our most effective strategies for insomnia (cognitive behavior therapy and medications) do not always eliminate a fatigue problem. Look for common contributors to fatigue and engage in some proven strategies to address it. (See below.)

Change the way you think about fatigue. One of the best predictors of fatigue is whether you tend to ruminate about how badly you feel when feeling tired. Focusing on the sensations of fatigue is an excellent way to ensure that the fatigue will persist. Distract yourself, or better yet, get active and do something you would enjoy.

Gradually increase your level of physical activity.

Watch what you eat. Certain foods result in feeling sluggish or create a sugar crash later; eat well now to sustain the feeling of energy.

Reduce caffeine. Caffeine is a short-term fix because after a substantial amount of the caffeine is eliminated from the body, you will experience withdrawal symptoms of fatigue (a caffeine crash)

Stay hydrated—dehydration causes fatigue.

Manage your stress. Chronic stress causes symptoms of fatigue but there are many ways to manage it, including support from loved ones and/or professionals, yoga, mindful meditation, saying no, pleasurable activities, and relaxation strategies.

Take breaks. If your eyes are burning and your body is aching at the computer, it is time to get up and take a break. You will be more productive if you take a moment to stretch and breathe.

Ride out the wave of the post-lunch dip. We all experience a small dip in energy in the early afternoon. Drinking coffee now will lead to caffeine withdrawal and fatigue in the evening. Focus on some of the other strategies in this list instead.

Seek treatment for anxiety, depression, pain, and sleep disorders, as these can cause fatigue or make it worse.

3. Give yourself permission to relax (and mean it).

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

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 (e.g., waiting in line at the supermarket) 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 sensation—e.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.

Another option is to put yourself in an environment with only one main type of sensory input. For example, use a white noise app in a dark room.

A massage allows you to concentrate on an often ignored type of sensory input—touch—and take a break from the onslaught of noise and light we typically face throughout the day.

If you can make it work, head to a national park for a day or a weekend, and do a quiet walk in nature to give yourself a sensory reset. (If you can’t make it work, then you can use nature sounds apps for a similar effect.)

3. Give yourself permission to relax.

If you’ve got a lot going on and your to-do list is never ending, it’s easy to feel like you always “should” be doing something. When you’re relaxing, allow yourself to enjoy it. There’s no need to feel guilty for what you enjoy and find relaxing.

Part of being an adult is knowing yourself well and knowing what you find genuinely relaxing, comforting, and sustaining. If what you enjoy is looking at your Facebook feed, allow yourself to enjoy that. Likewise, comfort eating is fine; only comfort overeating isn’t. Allow yourself to quietly enjoy the simple pleasures in your life—and if that’s peanut butter on toast, so be it.

4. Stop being unrealistic about how much you can get done.

In the modern world, many of us just never get anywhere near the bottom of our to-do lists. They’re never-ending. Just accepting that you’ll never get done all the things that you could be doing can be immensely freeing. Remind yourself: In a world full of opportunity, there are always opportunities to do more and achieve more. This is a positive overall, since if you can’t do something today, chances are another comparable (or better) opportunity will come along.

5. Prioritize the types of work that are an investment.

Some types of effort pay dividends well beyond the initial effort you put in. For example, finding a more efficient way to do something, or setting up an automatic investment. If you prioritize these types of activities, you’ll set yourself up to have more spare mental and physical energy over time. (More on this here.)

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Have you ever felt that you just couldn’t do it anymore? If so, you’re experiencing the effects of mental fatigue. These extreme tired brain symptoms will sound familiar when you are experiencing a lot of stress and a hectic environment.

Everyone’s been physically tired, so we know those signs of fatigue. Mental fatigue is similar, but because your brain controls your body, mental fatigue is more serious. In this article we will review the signs of mental fatigue as well as a few ways to help fight it.

7 Signs You Have Mental Fatigue

1. You are aware that there is too much going on at once

Feeling overwhelmed? You probably are literally overwhelmed by sensory input right now. Sounds, smells, sights, mental activity, physical movement, listening to others; sometimes all of this happening in a busy environment can be too much.

When there is too much data input coming from all of your senses, your brain can begin showing signs of stress and mental fatigue. You may notice that you have asked people to repeat themselves repeatedly. Also, you miss details that you should have seen, like spelling errors.

Try shutting off any noisy devices that you can control, like a fan, music, TV, buzzing lights, etc. Turn toward someone who is speaking and make eye contact to give them your full attention. Limit multi-tasking as much as possible.

2. You rarely have down time

Can’t remember the last time you went on vacation? A study in the journal Environment and Behavior showed that there are two strategies that can help individuals more effectively manage their mental fatigue; avoiding things that cause mental fatigue and down time.

One strategy involves avoiding unnecessary costs in terms of expenditure of directed attention. In other words, limit how much thinking you have to do. If you can, delegate some tasks to people you trust or postpone decisions if they aren’t urgent.

The other involves enhancing the effect of restorative opportunities. They suggest that a restorative environment (think day spa) will help refresh your mind so you can think clearly again. Really, even a few minutes outside in the sun is all you’ll need to be able to keep going.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

3. You have a total mental block

A mental block is when you have been so mentally drained that you cannot continue to think. You just stop thinking until you can rest your brain enough to recover and continue.

Researchers in the Journal of Psychology studying mental fatigue found that mental blocking acts ‘as an automatic safeguard which prevents the individual from working continuously.’ In other words, you can’t continue using your brain because it will just stop working for you when you are really fatigued.

4. You’re feeling more emotional lately

Depression or anxiety can be symptoms of mental fatigue because it can feel hopeless that you’ll be mentally clear anytime soon. Being mentally fatigued can feel a lot like being depressed because your level of mental energy is low. You might feel anxiety, for example, that things won’t improve.

If the situation that is causing your mental fatigue is something that you cannot control, you can feel emotions of anger toward the person who you see as the cause of your suffering.

5. Physical symptoms

Headaches, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, insomnia, and being jittery are all some physical symptoms you might experience that are signs of mental fatigue. Although you can consult your doctor if these are concerning you, the therapist might be better able to give you some helpful tools.

6. You forget little, but important, things

Forgetfulness and memory lapse are a sign of mental fatigue. Your brain is processing so much information at once, but it cannot also create memories at the same time. Later on, when you sleep, your brain will make memories.

In the meantime, you’re going to have a hard time remembering as well as being able to focus on anything for a long period of time. If you can avoid anything that could cause people harm without your full mental capacity, like driving for example, that would be best until you recover from your mental fatigue with some rest.

7. If someone asks you one more question, you might explode

Answering questions and making decisions all day has left you with decision fatigue and you can’t answer anyone anymore. People will just have to get by without you because you are bowing out due to mental fatigue.

Again, let some other people take on some of the smaller decisions that you have to make in a day. Dropping even small decisions, like what to cook for dinner, can take one more decision off your plate, which can help prevent mental fatigue.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Brain fatigue or mind fatigue is a feeling of mental tiredness.

More specifically, brain fatigue can result in these types of brain fatigue symptoms that are identified in different circumstances.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome itMind Fatigue/Brain Fatigue/ Symptoms

Here’s a short list of some of the brain fatigue symptoms:

▸ You can’t seem to make decisions. Your head is spinning with too much information and your brain can’t clear out the important details from the non-important details.

▸ You’re sleepy, due to no real reason. Or on the other hand, you’re sleepy due to the alcohol you just drank. Alcohol causes brain fatigue by increasing oxidation.

▸ You find it difficult to read or ponder difficult topics.

▸ You feel that you are just spinning your wheels in life.

Brain Fog Is Not The Same Thing As Brain Fatigue

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome itBrain fog is a little different. Brain fog is a feeling of cloudiness over the brain that makes one slow down the thinking processes.

You have to hear someone repeat what they’re saying four or five times to “get it.” You have to write down things so that you won’t forget them.

Brain fog can be due to food allergies, or mold exposure.

When the food allergies are gone, or the mold counts drop substantially, a person with brain fog due to these reasons can feel focused and have the ability to concentrate on any subject. It’s a life-transforming event.

Brain Scientists Learn About Brain Fatigue

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome itYour brain is quite complicated, and can handle both simple and complicated activities. Simple activities would include things such as recognizing things.

For example, recognizing that a car is coming toward you at a high speed is a simple activity whereas getting out of the way of the car is considered a decision-making activity that involves a higher functioning of activity level.

When you have brain fatigue, the speed at which you do the simple activities slows down and the higher order thinking of more complicated activities can come to a halt.

You feel paralyzed to move on toward making a decision or move toward taking steps to achieve a goal.

In one University of Minnesota study reported in Scientific American, researchers found that the brain actually uses energy to make a mental decision.

What’s Behind This Brain Fatigue?

To answer this question, one has to go back to the basic brain anatomy and physiology. There are three ways you can overcome brain fatigue.

1. Consider Feeding Your Brain Right

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

What’s the number 1 fuel of the brain? Glucose.

Thus if you’re suffering from blood glucose fluctuations all day long by eating junk foods or incomplete meals, you can expect a lot of brain fatigue to occur.

Actually, you wouldn’t even be able to make the decision that this is happening to you since you have brain fatigue! Someone else would have to make the decision for you.

2. Dehydration Is Your Brain’s Enemy

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

What else does the brain need? Water.

Without water, hundreds of reactions in the body come to a standstill. The easy solution is to drink water and do it all day long. But how are you going to decide that if you have brain fatigue right now?

How can you sit down and map out a plan of what you’re going to accomplish and how you can get a few quarts of water into your body each day if you have brain fatigue?

Just in case you do have brain fatigue, here’s the easiest way to do that:

When you get up in the morning, drink 3 glasses water immediately.
This will reset your thirst mechanism for the entire day.

3. We All Need Rewards

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

What else does the brain need? Rewards.

Surprisingly, in one study, researchers in England found that cyclists who rinsed their mouth with carbohydrate drinks during cycling, they cycled faster and had greater cardiovascular efficiency than those who drank water.

However, their feelings about the effort they were expending were about the same as those who drank water.

The cyclists’ MRI scans found that they were perceiving the carbohydrate drink as a reward. And this allowed their muscles to do twice as much work.

Now this one finding makes a lot of sense. Why do we drag ourselves out of bed in the morning? It could be that we dread the day’s activities.

There’s no reward associated with another day of getting pummeled with new work projects, screaming kids, or problems at work.

On the other hand, what do we do if we know that at 5 p.m. our favorite show is coming on television? We suddenly start racing around the home at 4 p.m. to get our work done.

What caused the switch in fatigue levels? It was the hope of a reward.

It’s the same thing with mental fatigue. If you can give yourself rewards for doing things, you can beat mental fatigue.

Hate doing housework? Work in some type of reward for it and you’ll soon see how housework won’t be contributing to your mental or physical fatigue anymore.

Now that you have three examples of how to overcome brain fatigue, which one will you initiate first? Whichever one makes the most sense to you about your mind fatigue is the one to go with.

Signs of mental fatigue and how to overcome it

Mental fatigue is not necessarily the result of any big upset or things gone wrong, but an accumulation of too much: Too much work (in not enough time); too many decisions; too many demands, interruptions, and shifts in attention; and too many things going on without time to take a break or restore.

This type of mental exhaustion knocks you back when the volume of activities and tasks you have taken on exceeds your capacity to comfortably manage your stress.

Sometimes, mental fatigue can be triggered by health problems, like autoimmune disease, chronic illness, heart disease, and depression, which can all result in trouble sleeping, insomnia, and mental fatigue.

Seven Signs of Mental Exhaustion:

– You know that there’s too much going on at once

You’re overwhelmed by sensory input. Listening to other people, physical movement, sights, smells, sounds; sometimes all of this going on in a busy environment may be too much.

If there’s too much data input coming from all of your senses, your brain may show signs of mental fatigue and stress. You may realize that you’ve asked others to repeat themselves. You may also miss details that you should have seen, such as spelling errors.

You must limit multi-tasking as much as you can. Shut off any noisy devices that you can control, such as buzzing lights, TV, music, a fan, etc.

– You may explode in case somebody asks you one more question

Making decisions and answering questions throughout the day has left you with decision fatigue and you cannot answer anybody anymore.

You should allow some people to take on some of the smaller decisions that you need to make. If you drop even small decisions, such as what to cook for dinner, it may take one more decision off your plate and prevent mental exhaustion.

– You often forget small, but important things

Memory lapse and forgetfulness are signs of mental fatigue. Your brain may be processing too much information at once, but it can’t create memories at the same time. Your brain may make memories when you sleep.

You may have difficulty remembering and focusing on anything for a long period of time. Avoid things that may harm people without your full mental capacity, such as driving until you recover from your mental exhaustion.

– You experience a few physical symptoms

Insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and headaches are all physical symptoms you may experience due to mental fatigue. Even though you can consult your doctor, it’s a better idea to consult a therapist to give you some helpful tools.

– You experience anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are symptoms of mental fatigue. Being mentally exhausted may feel like being depressed since your mental energy level is low.

– You have a mental block

A mental block is when you’ve been so mentally drained that you can’t keep thinking. Researchers in the Journal of Psychology who studied mental fatigue concluded that mental blocking acts ‘as an automatic safeguard that can prevent you from working continuously.’ This means that you cannot keep using your brain as it’ll stop working for you when you’re overwhelmed.

– You do not get enough downtime

A study published in the journal Environment and Behavior suggested that there’re 2 strategies that may help you more effectively manage your mental fatigue; getting more downtime and avoiding things that contribute to mental fatigue.

You must limit how much thinking you have to do. As we have already mentioned, you may also want to postpone decisions if they are not urgent or delegate some tasks to those you trust.

You should also enhance the effect of restorative opportunities. A restorative environment may help refresh your mind so you can think clearly again.