10 Strategies to Prevent Mental Fatigue
Prolonged stress is linked to mental fatigue, a situation that, in the long term, leads to damage to your health not only emotionally but also physically. Because of this, it’s imperative to develop different strategies to prevent this condition.
Personal and work life can sometimes become overwhelming, and this type of condition often develops in people who have an overactive brain.
Occupations such as teachers, accountants, analysts, and those in the health sector are prone to mental fatigue. Find out how you can avoid or overcome mental exhaustion.
Symptoms that show you’re suffering from mental fatigue
The abuse of uninterrupted overtime to finish leftover work, or to get a little extra money at the end of the month, can generate emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms.
According to a study published in BMC Family Practice, feeling stressed, anxious, and irritable is just the beginning of this disorder. It’s exacerbated when chronic feelings of distress and poor motivation arise. There are also cases in which suicidal thoughts can start to rise to the surface.
The state of prolonged mental exhaustion accompanies the pre-named emotions with other symptoms such as:
- Physical fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep or sleeping excessively
- Muscle aches or headaches
Without leaving aside the changes in behavior, the ones that stand out the most are procrastination, alcohol consumption, and family and memory problems.
10 strategies to combat mental exhaustion
In addition to the above, this condition goes hand in hand with a progressive increase in simple errors, due to the lack of ability to concentrate. It doesn’t only affect you, but also ends up harming the people around you, as it’s exhausting to spend several hours with a fatigued person.
Therefore, if you think you fit the aforementioned description, try to put the following tips into practice.
1. Stop unproductive tasks
Leisure activities such as reading Facebook updates or answering unproductive emails can be put aside. Instead, spend time on worthwhile tasks that help you finish a job or grow your business.
In a state of mental fatigue, it’s recommended that you avoid acquaintances who want to meet up for a coffee just to while away the time. They have time to waste, but they take up your time and make it unproductive.
That time you have saved, why not use it for manual activities, such as cooking and painting? These are activities that add quality and well-being to your life. Learning new things will make you feel more energetic.
2. Use the timeboxing technique
This practice consists of establishing a time limit to carry out your activities. In this way, you reduce procrastination or the perfectionist approach, and you won’t be giving more time than the activity needs to carry it out. Take into account the real time that’s needed to do quality work without going to extremes.
3. Use apps like Focus@Will
This is a selected music service that uses the most recent research in the field of neuroscience. A significant number of people can’t maintain a prolonged concentration of more than 100 continuous minutes, and the music of Focus@Will seeks to extend this range of time.
This musical selection relaxes the limbic system, the part of your brain that’s always alert to danger, hunger or sexual desire, and allows some people to pass the threshold of 100 continuous minutes of concentration.
In the same way, it’s recommended to listen to this type of music in safe places – at the office or at home, where you do not have to make greater use of your limbic system. This practice will help you accomplish more tasks in less time, thereby reducing the chances of mental fatigue.
4. Pay attention to your eyes
The irritability that your eyes may present is an indication that you spend a lot of time in front of the computer. Eye fatigue works against your concentration levels and ends up exhausting you.
To alleviate this condition, take your eyes off the monitor every 45 minutes and view other more distant objects, reduce the brightness of the screen and try to lubricate your eyes every so often with special drops for this purpose.
5. Cultivate the habit of taking care of yourself
According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, mental fatigue can be reduced through continuous physical exercise. This study revealed that physical activities strengthen the brain and make it less prone to fatigue.
Likewise, the implementation of a healthy lifestyle that also includes good food, hydration and sleeping the necessary hours, undoubtedly helps to avoid the symptoms of mental fatigue or, failing that, mitigates them.
6. Make time for leisure activities
Keeping yourself busy with productive activities all the time doesn’t guarantee that you’re actually being productive. On the contrary, continually submitting to these types of tasks can cause you to stop being so, and this is because your mind ends up being dulled.
For this reason, it’s recommended that you have leisure time during the day, but that you plan it out carefully. Although it’s hard to believe, this helps your brain relax and is a time when you can think of juicy new ideas that will help your productivity.
Taking your vacation when you should is another smart decision, and it’s also a powerful ally against brain exhaustion.
7. Get enough sleep
It may sound like a cliché, but the repeated loss of hours of sleep is a trigger for this disease. There is scientific evidence that a lack of sleep is a contributing factor to mental fatigue even more so than workload or lack of exercise.
A good practice would be to gradually pay your sleep debt; that is, try to keep track of the number of hours you must sleep and the hours you sleep, the difference between these is the debt you must pay. This way, when you feel tired, if possible, go to bed and take a nap.
8. Consider changing jobs
This is a decision that you shouldn’t take lightly, but if your job is causing you repeated fatigue for a long time, you should consider it. After all, health comes first.
At this point, you must weigh things up between the detriment and the benefits that submitting to this work generates for you. Keep in mind that making changes in the workplace can improve the situation.
It may well be that you don’t need to give up your job, and that you just need more leisure time, a workload reduction, or greater support from your colleagues.
9. Do mindfulness activities
Meditation, yoga or tai chi are activities that, with continuous practice, in addition to other benefits, can help you increase your levels of concentration and have a better management of negative emotions such as fatigue or depression.
10. Go to the doctor
The help of a mental health professional is frowned upon by some. However, in most cases, it turns out to be very effective and helps you find the exact source of your mental stress.
Similarly, a professional can recommend a variety of solutions that exactly fit your requirements; these can range from lifestyle changes to medication.
Factors that cause mental fatigue
If you’re experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, fatigue and apathy, you may be going through a stage of mental exhaustion. Find out if the factors that give rise to this condition are present in your day-to-day life.
1. Decision making
When your chores involve making decisions repeatedly, it’s normal for you to feel tired and overwhelmed. To combat this evil, try to delegate tasks and small decisions to your work team.
Try to avoid the situation that these people then come back to you with a list of several options and in the end it’s you who chooses which is the most appropriate.
A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin demonstrated the link between being in a cluttered environment and mental fatigue. In general, this situation can activate the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone. Consequently, if your home or workplace remains cluttered, your mind will be more fatigued.
3. Excessive commitment
Cognitive overload leads to exhaustion and if you add to this the fact that you must deliver the task in a very short time, you won’t only be adding the stress factor, but you could also lead to the total collapse of your body with physical manifestations such as fever, for example.
Mental fatigue is linked to prolonged stress
The reasons for mental exhaustion can be many, and it’s always due to a continuous accumulation of stress. According to research conducted by Brain Research, mental exhaustion causes impaired cognitive performance.
Fortunately, some strategies can be implemented to prevent this condition. And the golden rule is that you should take some time for yourself. Setting aside time for leisure is the most effective way to take your mind off tasks and activities that cause you stress and exhaustion.
Another rule that you should try not to break is getting enough sleep. Yes, it may well be that, because of your profession, you won’t have pleasant dreams, but remember that resting isn’t a luxury and suffering from mental exhaustion isn’t a game.