When it comes to overexerting yourself, both the body and mind can be affected. According to psychologists, we all have limits when it comes to our cognition, and when we take on more than what we can handle that can ultimately result in mental fatigue – also known as exhaustion. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why we’re seeing more and more athletes and celebrities being hospitalized, because their scheduled are either too jam packed or they’ve taken on more than their bodies allow.
To avoid mental fatigue, it’s important that you not overcommit yourself to things. If you’re being pulled in a million different directions, you’re going to burn out – that’s just how the mind and body work – and when you’re burnt out, you can’t be as productive or even as alert as you want to be. Whether you’re at work, school, at home, or in social settings, one person can have a lot of pressure put on them – from work meetings to project deadlines, to dealing with family matters that are particularly stressful (i.e. parenting or marital problems), to constantly having friends ask for favours. It can all take a toll. Over time, mental fatigue isn’t the only issue you’ll be dealing with, as this can also lead to chronic stress and anxiety.
There are several defining symptoms associated with mental fatigue, including irritability, loss of interest in activities, change in appetite, as well as lack of concentration and sleep problems. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re at an even higher risk of suffering exhaustion. Your mental health can also be impacted by mental fatigue. As mentioned, stress and anxiety can occur, but you can also develop symptoms of depression including low mood, withdrawal, and negative thoughts. All of these aforementioned symptoms can lead to further problems at work or in school, as well as with personal relationships. Therefore, if you are feeling mentally tired, it’s important to remember that you need to take breaks. Furthermore, you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so. You can only be your best self (for yourself and for others) when your own health and wellbeing is in top notch shape.
To reduce mental fatigue, the first thing you should start by doing is getting a good night’s rest. While some people get just a few hours of sleep each night, you need at least 8 hours of sleep for the body to fully function at peak level. This will help to recharge the brain, so to speak. Secondly, make sure you’re eating properly. When we’re feeling too tired or rushed, we often tend to skip meals – such as breakfast, which just so happens to be one of the most important meals of the day as it gives our body the fuel we need to function throughout the day. If you don’t eat properly, it’s going to impact you regardless of whether you believe it will or won’t. Along with eating healthy, Dr. Ali Ghahary also says individuals need to get regular exercise. While it might not seem like a fun activity or one you necessarily want to partake in, it’s important. Physical activity can help to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, and it’s also great for many other aspects of your health too.
Next, you also need to pay attention to what might be causing your mental fatigue. If you’re overworked, try talking to your boss about reducing your hours or allowing you to take longer breaks. If it’s school that’s causing you fatigue, such as studying for finals, try to allow yourself X amount of hours to get your studying in but also make sure you’re going to bed at a decent hour so you’re able to get enough sleep. If family matters are the culprit, such as parenting, some families may actually benefit from signing their children up for after-school activities, such as a sport or other fun class. This will give parents a guilt-free break, as well as allow the kids to have fun. When it comes to personal relationships, such as marriage or friendships, these are things that the involved parties need to work on resolving. However, you may benefit from involving a third party as well, such as a counsellor, to help you through certain issues.
Once you have identified what’s causing your mental fatigue, it will be that much easier to treat and you’ll be able to get back to feeling like yourself that much quicker.