Do you feel like no matter how much sleep or rest you get, you’re always tired? Do you catch a cold easily, and it takes you a while to recover, before falling ill again? Does your body and your back ache, and do you get regular headaches or migraines? Does all this occur, even though you have a good diet, exercise regularly and seem to sleep through the night?
We immediately look for physical fatigue signs and then try to rectify the problem with material solutions, like taking a multi vitamin, sleeping and exercising more or less and changing our diet. The last thing we consider is that the issue lies in our mindset — mental fatigue.
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What does a “tired mind” mean?
Mental fatigue is a state of being defined by extreme mental activity, sensory overload and hyper vigilance , which causes exhaustion. It stems from excessive mind and brain activity, which then manifests in the body.
The demand on your attention through various sensory, emotional and psychological stimuli overloads your capacity to function and diminishes your cognitive performance. Mental fatigue is considered to be one of the biggest causes of accidents in modern society.
Signs to look at when you’re feeling overwhelmed
There are very clear signs that tell us when we are burnt out. It’s as though we are running on empty and our energy is so depleted that we are unable to perform sometimes the most basic day-to-day tasks. Our physical appearance and mental health may start to deteriorate.
We may lose or gain weight, develop dark shadows and deep lines on our faces, our skin becomes dull or prone to break out and our muscles feel achy and stiff. Motivation and a positive outlook escapes us and we simply go through the motions of merely existing as opposed to living. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to focus
- Erratic emotions
- Loss of sex drive
Why you have mental fatigue
Everything around tires your mind
Mental fatigue is caused by excessive physical and mental activity placed on our bodies and brain. Modern living is chaotic, competitive and demanding.
Whilst the industrial revolution, mass food production and consumerism has made everyday living easier in some respects; we don’t have to hunt for our own food, we have a variety of gadgets, machines and appliances to make living and traveling easier and civilized society is organized through systems, infrastructure and institutions to support us.
Despite all of this, we have put incredible pressure on the planet and the environment, we have 24 hour news cycles and social media constantly harnessing our attention, the global population has exploded, unemployment is rife, health care and education is inadequate and many nations are marred by poverty, war, inequality and injustice.
Life is no longer simple. We are expected to work hard, play hard and be switched on all the time. Even relaxation has become an industry. When the mind and the body are placed under too much pressure, the result is a malfunction in the systems  that keep us going.
Our heart health can suffer, disturbing blood flow through the body and to the brain; we contract infections and our immunity isn’t able to cope; our metabolism and digestion is impaired, we have a lack of sleep or have poor quality sleep and we don’t extract the vitamins and nutrients from the food we consume, particularly if we aren’t consuming the right types of food or not enough of them.
Believe that coffee and alcohol are he way out
The demands we impose on our mental and physical well being due to the pressures of everyday life can become so overwhelming, that it is difficult to see a way out.
Mental fatigue, its causes and symptoms can easily become a lifestyle cycle. The more pressure we take on, the worse decisions we make and this in turn, increases the pressure, causing us to take even more shortcuts.
We try to stay competitive and relevant in the workforce, we have relationships and raise families, which require us to earn more in order to sustain our quality of life. We attempt to stay abreast of what everybody else is doing on social media, a tool that often becomes the most convenient and efficient way to socialize, when we are so busy working and taking care of our families.
We compel ourselves to keep our finger on the pulse of what is going on in the world so we can stay informed, empowered and educated. As a result, we are forced to eat and exercise on the run, we are always switched on and hyper alert, and we use band-aid solutions to help us feel better. We drink too much coffee or alcohol to sustain our lifestyle. The more we try to find a solution to our lack of energy, the more we do and the less energy we have.
Always try to keep yourself busy
Stop. These days we have no idea how to do nothing sometimes. Just be. Live in the moment. Feel as though we have enough, no more or less than what we need. Experience gratitude.
It seems simple enough, but most people’s response is that they simply don’t have enough time. In fact, we have all the time in the world. The key to conquering the effects and cycles of mental fatigue is to address our outlook.
If we stay in the moment and live each minute, hour, day with reflection on what we are doing, not thinking too much about our long term goals or past experiences, but just doing what is in front of us, suddenly our intentions turn inwards and we address the elements that are most important for us to have a functional and healthy life.
How to regain your mind vitality
1. Observe how you breathe
Pay attention to your breath on a regular basis throughout the day. It changes automatically. When we are frustrated we huff and puff, when we are angry we gulp for breath, when we are sad or low, our breathing is shallow.
Become acquainted with how you breathe. First begin by observing it. Everyone has moments when they are still, do it then. When you’re sitting on the toilet, before you go to sleep at night, when you’re commuting or driving. When you are required to do nothing, pay attention to and get to know your breath.
Then, practice techniques  to make your breathing work for you. Sometimes simply regulating your breath, by breathing deeply a few times and then steadily, is enough to re-oxygenate your brain and help you to recenter.
2. Enjoy eating good food
Meal times are sign posts that break up your day and give you an opportunity to recharge. No matter how busy you are, you are inevitably going to get hungry, so make that moment count.
Even five minutes to enjoy a piece of fruit or a long drink of water, can be enough to clear the cobwebs from your head. Better still, do it outside. Make mealtimes a routine. You don’t have to observe it to the minute or be obsessive about it, but make eating an important part of the day.
Eat sitting down, at a table or bench, in order to give your body the opportunity to not only taste your food, but to digest it. Do this at around the same time every day, several times a day. Observe at least breakfast, lunch and dinner and be flexible to allow for snacks and meals in between. Make healthy choices, but let yourself have indulgences too. A piece of cake and a glass of wine are sometimes the best medicine.
3. Use your body
As a modern society we obsess over exercise, particularly of a competitive nature. That can be healthy sometimes. Team sports are excellent ways to get fit and connect with others. But your body is your own and you need to move it and use it how you see fit.
You may prefer walking to running, yoga and swimming to a team sport. Your physical activity of choice could be dancing at a club or in your kitchen or maintaining your garden. Learn how to stretch and strengthen your muscles, move your joints, get your heart rate up, learn how to balance and how to warm up and cool down.
Sedentary behavior is said to be as dangerous for our health as smoking, so get moving.
4. Make quality sleep a non negotiable aspect of every day
Sleep and sleep well. Sleep, is one of the things we forgo first when we are busy and our stress level is high. Anyone who has children or a high pressure occupation knows this only too well and sleep deprivation is commonly used as an implement of torture, it is that harmful.
Sometimes the amount and quality of sleep we get is out of our control. Having babies and small children means losing sleep and sometimes our jobs demand us to be available and alert when we should be sleeping.
It is important to make quality sleep a non negotiable aspect of every day. Steal sleep whenever you can. 6 to 8 hours is usually ideal. When you lose sleep, catch up. While seemingly impossible, it’s doable and a power nap can make all the difference in the world. The benefits of sleep are undeniable.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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