As if there aren’t enough productivity-hindering obstacles in the universe. Though the digital distractions can certainly add up (social media notifications, the 24-hour news cycle, YouTube, etc.), their impact on your productivity is relatively minor when considering the all-encompassing, motivation killing effects of mental fatigue.
It’s safe to assume that you’ve felt the weight of mental fatigue before. And that’s ok. You’re human. What’s most important is that, with a few Healthversed backed tricks of the trade, you can fight back.
Today, we’re going to explore the ins and outs of mental fatigue. We’ll break down what it is, why it happens, why it’s bad, and arm you with a few tested strategies to help stop it in its tracks. So, without further ado, let’s break through the brain fog and learn to power on!
What is Mental Fatigue?
Sun Tzu wisely said that “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” It’s a valid point, no doubt. So, before we dive too deep in to our mental fatigue busting strategies, it’s important to know thine enemy.
Mental fatigue is often the end result of too many decisions, too much multi-tasking, and too little down time. Mental fatigue can stop productivity in its tracks, dramatically impair your ability to make decisions, and drain your stores of motivation. It’s a wall. Rather, it can certainly feel that way. But, with a few time-tested strategies, you can learn to climb that wall and continue on.
Why Does It Happen?
Mental fatigue can happen for a lot of different reasons. As mentioned previously, it can come as a result of multi-tasking for extended periods of time, but that’s far from the only cause. There are a lot of culprits, all of which deserve professional inspection. Things like stress, lack of sleep, neurological disorders, diabetes, side-effects from medication, nutritional deficiencies, and even the hormonal fluctuations of menopause can cause mental fatigue.
If you suspect that your mental fatigue is the result of a neurological disorder, diabetes, or medication, consult with your doctor immediately. However, if you are mentally fatigued and otherwise healthy, keep on reading.
So, what does mental fatigue feel like and how can it impact your overall health?
Mental fatigue can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Most notably, mental fatigue can have a dramatic impact on your productivity. As such, you may notice a decrease in work performance and, if left unchecked, unemployment. Mental fatigue alters your brain’s perception of effort. Making even the most menial tasks seem insurmountable.
It negatively impacts your emotional stability, too. Mental fatigue can make you more irritable and less patient, which can strain your personal relationships and harm your mental health. And, with poor mental health comes a whole host of other, more dangerous side effects. Let’s just say, mental fatigue is a drain on everything. So, taking the time to stave it off is certainly in your best interest.
Take a Walk
When your watch reads 3 p.m. but your body feels like it’s 12 a.m., it may be time to get moving. Get up, go outside, and wander around for a bit. Not only is walking great for your physical health, but a short stroll around the block is great for your mental health, too.
By taking an afternoon stroll, you’re improving your circulation, getting a vitamin D boost from the sun, and giving your over-stimulated brain a much-needed reprieve from the day’s to-do list. So, stop yawning and start walking!
We know that it may sound counter intuitive, but exercising on a regular basis actually gives you more energy. It’s been proven that exercise improves your concentration. No, we don’t expect you to bang out a set of 30 pushups in the middle of your shared workspace. But, if you find yourself struggling to stay awake come 3 p.m., it may be time for a gym membership. It’s recommended that you get a minimum of 30 minutes per day of exercise. Of course, you’re going to want to consult your doctor beforehand.
Take a Break
When exercising, your sore muscles require rest and recovery time. So why should your mind be any different? Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone, clear your schedule, and take some time for yourself. Book a week-long vacation, go camping for the weekend, or just take a few breaks during the day to read or go for a walk. Not only will regular breaks help you manage the stress of the day and help combat brain fog, but it’ll make you more productive!
Prioritize Your Time
Mental fatigue can be a symptom of poor time management. A failure to prioritize your time properly can cause stress and stress is awful for your energy levels. Developing a plan of attack can help you reign in the chaos that is your 9-5 work day.
Be ruthless with your time by cutting out the “fat” of your day. By eliminating unhelpful routines and activities from your work day, you are ensuring that your time is spent being productive and getting things done. What’s more, you can attack items with more vigor and focus when you don’t have to worry about burning yourself out.
Don’t Cheap on Sleep
Make sleep a priority, not an afterthought! Not getting enough sleep (or having an irregular sleep schedule) can do serious damage to your sustained energy levels throughout the day. More than that, a lack of sleep can impact your weight, your mental health, your productivity, and your emotional stability.
The truth is, your health is more important than that third load of laundry or the midnight email to corporate. So, add “sleep eight hours” to your to-do list and … do it!
Meditation is amazing. It battles stress, improves self-esteem, quiets the mind, and boosts energy! As little as a 10-minute meditation per day can dramatically impact your energy levels.
It can work in a variety of different ways, but in short, meditation helps your filter out the mental noise and focus you in on the things that are more important. The over stimulation of the modern work day can spread your thoughts thin, draining your mental energy.
Don’t have 10 minutes to spare? Just focus on your breath for a minute or two. It all helps!
It’s no secret that a healthy diet consisting of protein and leafy greens can help keep you energized throughout the day. Conversely, heavy, starchy foods can drain your energy and hinder productivity.
If you find yourself hitting that afternoon wall, take a look at your eating habits and make a note of ways in which you can improve. Maybe sub out the chocolate dipped granola bar for a handful of almonds, sub out the French fries for a side of carrots, or replace the submarine sandwich with a salad.
Eating healthy isn’t about losing weight. Eating healthy is about sustaining energy and getting an increase in performance. And hey, if you lose a few pounds, bonus!
Emails, meetings, phone calls, and more meetings. The work day is hectic. Unfortunately, drinking enough water is a common casualty. Before we get in to the benefits of staying hydrated, let’s take a look at the symptoms of dehydration: fatigue, weakness, headaches, and dizziness. Sound familiar?
Dehydration is a very common cause of mental fatigue and drinking water can provide you with a much-needed energy boost. Keep a water bottle at your desk at all times, fill it when needed and, when you find yourself dragging your heels, take a drink!
Limited exercise, a poor diet, and a lack of sleep can all dramatically impact your energy levels throughout the day. We might as well add vitamin deficiencies to that list as well. And heck, even if your body isn’t vitamin deficient per se, you can still boost your energy levels with a multivitamin or some other useful supplements. Vitamin B12 helps your body metabolize energy, as does melatonin and iodine.
You should also take a close look at magnesium, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba. But, as always, be sure to consult your doctor before breaking the bank at your local supplement store.