Mental fatigue can creep up on us gradually. It’s often not until we’re experiencing the negatives that we realise we’ve tripped ourselves up.
Mental fatigue can occur during times of change or of increased pressure and stress. This was made more apparent during the pandemic. But there are so many other life experiences that can cause this exhaustion too.
The competing facets of life for instance the juggle of work/life balance are big contributors. Especially balancing a demanding career with family and relationships.
High profile professional roles with varied responsibilities, decision-making and deadlines can be another cause. Include too much technology and screen time in this list too.
Then there are other life changes such as the passing of loved ones, kids flying the nest or even divorce and job loss. Often we find those changes all happen at once too. This can be overwhelming and most definitely can lead to mental fatigue.
I personally believe mental exhaustion is the result of too much beta brainwave activity. This is the “doing and thinking” brainwave frequency. We don’t allow ourselves enough down time and forget how to switch our mind to more pleasurable thoughts and activities.
Mental fatigue can be one of the biggest saboteurs of success.
This is because prolonged mental exhaustion can lead to physical exhaustion feeling like you have an empty tank. Because we are regularly triggering our body’s survival response it can also lead to burnout too.
The escalation in stress hormones also depletes our immune system. This leaves us more susceptible to viruses. It can also cause more serious illnesses like autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Then there’s the emotional issues caused by mental fatigue. Problems like anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Feelings of overwhelm, confusion and an inability to concentrate are all signs of mental exhaustion.
As I’ve always said, our health has the greatest leverage over how successful we are. If we don’t look after our mental health it’s going to be a struggle both physically and emotionally too. Sustainable success requires us to thrive in each of these important areas of health.
Developing a realistic self-care ritual is essential to thriving
Many people have a whole list of things to do for self-care. If you have plenty of time, then this is fabulous. But if you’re busy then too many rituals can cause extra pressure where it’s not needed.
A good self-care ritual is one that fits easily into your daily schedule. It needs to include practices that care for your mind and spirit. Examples of this are journal writing, gratitude practice and meditation. Breath work, yoga, TaiChi and spending time in nature are also good practices too.
Make it realistic for your schedule and the responsibilities you have. Remember that when you add something you need to take something away. So it’s important to eliminate some of your other tasks and responsibilities to make way for self-care. Maybe you can ask someone else to help with those instead.
Exercise is vital to care for all facets of your health
This can be any form of body movement that increases your heart rate. Personally I prefer a fast paced walk out in nature, but it is different for everyone.
The key here is that you enjoy the exercise you do. If you don’t enjoy it then give something else a go. If you continue to do exercise you don’t enjoy, then you’re just adding more pressure. There are so many forms of exercise to choose from. Running, walking, swimming, cycling, gym classes, dancing, sports, boxing, circuit work are just a few examples.
Exercise also needs to be included at a time of the day that you enjoy. The last thing you’re likely to do is start vigorous movement when you are at your most resistant. So choose a time of day when you feel you have more energy or you find it more enjoyable.
Making adjustments to your daily diet increases energy
The majority of our nervous system is in our gut. This means what we eat will directly affect our mental health. Also eating healthy food will influence the amount of nutrition that our body absorbs. This can increase energy levels.
Processed sugar needs to be eliminated and it’s important to reduce even the more natural versions. Caffeine is another offender that needs to be removed or decreased. Anything that gives you a quick boost will encourage you to push yourself further than is healthy. And that’s not sustainable.
Foods that have been processed tend to have lots of ingredients like additives and sugars. So if you are going to buy them, get accustomed to reading labels. This includes anything packaged or tinned. Even alcohol contains a lot of sugar.
Aim to have the majority of your diet consisting of whole, fresh, organic and biodynamic food. Start thinking about where the food actually came from and how it was grown or made.
Creating a schedule that works for you reduces pressure
Too often I hear new clients share unrealistic schedules. They’ve been given someone else’s “success formula” and think it’s what will work for them.
We must realise that we are all unique.
Because of this a schedule that might work for your colleague won’t necessarily work for you. By following someone else’s schedule for success you could in fact be creating more pressure than is necessary. And trying to maintain this over a period of time can contribute to mental fatigue.
The key is in having a clear understanding of what’s important to you personally and professionally. Once you have this clarity you can then develop a schedule that is realistic for you, together with boundaries to sustain, nurture and support you.
Listening to your own feedback helps you escape mental fatigue
Our body and our emotions are always giving us feedback. Interrupted sleep, feeling like we have too much to do or feeling resentful are all signs that something needs to change.
The key to avoiding mental fatigue is to listen to that feedback. By making the necessary adjustments you can ensure that you continue to thrive. This means whatever success is for you then becomes sustainable.
If you regularly feel tired or exhausted or would like help avoiding mental fatigue, then working with a coach who knows the ropes and assists you to achieve success through healthy balance will help. To see if coaching with Deb is the best fit for you, book your initial 15 minute call HERE.