“You’ve got to know your limitations. I don’t know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren’t too many limitations, if I did it my way.” ~ Johnny Cash
We Have All Suffered From Mental Fatigue
Feeling mentally tired can offset how we operate, how we speak, how we think, and how we go about our day-to-day.
Feeling mentally tired keeps us from being ourselves. It wreaks havoc on our being. We become more susceptible to feeling stressed or demotivated. Our work suffers. Relationships may be perceived as wrong when in actuality, everything is fine.
Mental exhaustion heightens our sensitivity to what we tell ourselves, not to what is reality.
When we are mentally tired, we begin to see friends as foes. Even Dr. Matthew Walker states on page 215 of his book, Why We Sleep,
“Deprive an individual of their REM-sleep dreaming state, and the emotional tuning curve of the brain loses its razor-sharp precision. Like viewing an image through frosted glass, or looking at an out-of-focus picture, a dream-starved brain cannot accurately decode facial expressions, which become distorted. You begin to mistake friends for foes.”
Lack of sleep can be one of the many reasons why we feel mentally exhausted.
This article will review five ways to overcome feeling mentally tired. These are the following:
- Eliminate multitasking and going back and forth between tasks.
- Learn to balance work and life.
- Take frequent breaks throughout the day.
- Take a real Sabbath.
- Reduce decision fatigue.
5 Ways to Overcome Feeling Mentally Tired
1. Eliminate multitasking and going back and forth between tasks.
Multitasking and going back and forth between tasks can lead to feeling exhausted.
Cal Newport noted on page 158 of his book Deep Work, “So we have scales that allow us to divide up people into people who multitask all the time and people who rarely do, and the differences are remarkable. People who multitask all the time can’t filter out irrelevancy. They can’t manage a working memory. They’re chronically distracted. They initiate much larger parts of their brain that are irrelevant to the task at hand…they’re pretty much mental wrecks.”
Every time we switch tasks, we use glucose (the brain’s energy). The more we flip between computer tabs, work, conversations, etc., the more quickly we will drain ourselves of our brain’s energy.
Harvard Medical School states, “Brain functions such as thinking, memory, and learning are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source. If there isn’t enough glucose in the brain, for example, neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers, are not produced and communication between neurons breaks down.”
When we use up glucose from multitasking and hopping between projects, we quickly find ourselves drained.
Strive to eliminate multitasking and focus on one thing at a time for an extended period.
2. Learn to balance work and life.
Balance tends to be difficult when managing multiple things at once.
It is essential to learn the balance between work and life.
Take time to assess the absolute time you need to do your work. Stay within those parameters and be disciplined enough to avoid work when the time is met.
If you say, “I am going to work from 8 am - 4 pm, with an hour lunch break”, stop work when it gets to 4 pm. Let your family know that you are working and providing for them between that time, but after, they have your undivided attention.
Too often, we attempt to do both at once, and it eventually fails and makes families and people feel devalued.
Stick to keeping work within work times and remaining disciplined with stopping work (and not checking emails) after the time allotted (which, in our example, is 4 pm).
3. Take frequent breaks throughout the day.
When we spend most of our days behind a computer screen, it is essential to take breaks.
Even if we do not stay behind a computer screen all day, taking five minutes to get up, stretch, walk, and do diaphragmatic breathing can do wonders for our mental state.
Suppose we continually push through work, not giving ourselves even 5 minutes of break time periodically throughout the day. In that case, our concentration will suffer, our work will take longer, and we will feel mentally tired.
Whatever break is for you, plan on taking 3-5 breaks anywhere between 5-15 minutes.
4. Take a real Sabbath.
Regardless of your religious views, the Bible gives excellent advice with rest.
Taking one day off (a Sabbath) entirely free from work and enjoying time with family, friends, and fun activities can be very rejuvenating.
When we do no work on the Sabbath and take time to rest, we will feel much more energized and replenished (not only in mind but in the body) going into our next workweek.
5. Reduce decision fatigue.
As the ancient Roman Philosopher Seneca noted, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
Due to not reducing decision fatigue, many people operate based on whatever is presented or comes first, not what is an actual priority.
When this occurs, mental fatigue is sure to follow. When wins for each day are not tracked, we finish the day thinking, “What in the world did I just accomplish?”
Taking time to reduce decision fatigue is essential.
Here at Tiger Medical, we train our clients to prep their entire week for an hour on the weekend. Taking time to write out priorities for each day and having a flow schedule is paramount to success - not only success but to help one overcome decision fatigue.
If there are too many options for us to do each day (without a clear display of priorities and what each day will involve), decision fatigue will set in. Eventually, we will feel it throughout the day and throughout our days.
Too many options can lead to anxiety, stress, and worry. Prioritizing tasks for the week, writing out a weekly schedule, and focusing on one item at a time can help one get into the zone with their work and not have extra clutter fogging up their mind - which eventually leads to mental fatigue.
Next Steps To An Energized Mind
The five steps presented, if taken seriously, will keep you from feeling mentally tired.
The steps take discipline. Knowledge is excellent, but without action, it is vanity.
We say this in love to encourage you along the way. Don’t just read the correct information; act on it!
If you are looking for guidance in overcoming mental exhaustion, burnout, or fatigue, we encourage you to view the following articles on our learning center:
You have what it takes inside you to make a definite choice that will change the future trajectory of your health.
Our team at Tiger Medical has the experience, clinical skills, and coaching acumen to help you get your health and energy back.
To talk to one of our professionals, click here to schedule your call!