“I sit down most of the day, how am I still tired?”
Many people think it’s normal for someone to be tired if they are working out in a field all day or stand on their feet all day. However, most people who have a desk job or spend a lot of their time on mental tasks are often surprised and shocked that they are still exhausted. Mental exhaustion affects your entire body in a negative way. People who are mentally exhausted will not only get tired but also often feel physical aches as if they have been exercising all day. Excessive use of your mind is just as harmful to you as excessive use of your body.
For example, many people who suffer from mental exhaustion, in addition to being tired most of the time, may start to get sick more often, have a lot of headaches, experience back pain, muscle aches, and more. Plus, mental exhaustion can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep which can just make all the above worse.
Here are some examples of symptoms that are caused by mental exhaustion
If you have more than a few of these and have been burning the wick at both ends, consider mental exhaustion a potential culprit.
- Constant sleepiness
- Frequent headaches
- Impaired decision making
- Inability to concentrate and focus
- Loss of appetite
- Memory problems
- Muscle weakness
- Poor coordination
- Poor judgement
- Reduced immunity
- Slow reflexes
- Sore or aching muscles
- Unexplained dizziness
When people are mentally exhausted, their body tries to get them to take a break and rest in every way it can. As a result, this can make the body more vulnerable to viruses and other illnesses. It’s so important to pay attention to the signs of mental exhaustion. Thankfully, there are ways to combat and overcome mental exhaustion, which we will discuss next.
Track How You Spend Your Time
If you don’t know how much you’re really doing, it can be easy to just keep going 24/7 and never take a break. As a stay-at-home working mom, I am on the go literally from the moment I wake up until the second I close my eyes to sleep. I am sure a lot of you can relate! I try to take advantage of every minute I have to get things done. Well, not a huge surprise but naturally everything won’t get done. I have learned to be okay with that. Take some time to track what you’re doing daily for about a week. You can use your smartphone to track your activities or you can go old school and write down your daily to-do list. See where most of your time goes and try to find a balance.
Drop Activities That Don’t Produce Real Results
When you look at the activities you did while tracking, note the things that aren’t really producing results, or that are busywork, or that are completely unnecessary. For example, do you go to a lot of meetings? Do you have to? Do you spend a lot of time trying to help a relative, friend, or someone else without results? Let go of anything that you can either just stop doing or outsource. If you must keep doing it, find a way to put limits on it. This goes along with finding the right balance. Remember, you are just one person, focus on what is important at that time.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep Zzzz!
Most adults should strive for 6 to 9 hours of sleep every night. This depends largely on your genes, and sleep time is right for you. Use what you know you need. If you have trouble falling asleep at night, please solve this problem so that you fall asleep quickly and your sleep time is more efficient. To help get used to this process, go to bed at the same time every day for at least 30 days. You can start with the least amount of time, and then gradually find out the best time for you so that you can feel rested every day. Don’t forget how important sleep is for helping our bodies recuperate.
Exercise Every Day
Schedule exercise time each day. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise. It can be as simple as a brisk walk. You don’t even need to schedule in an entire hour. Look at your schedule so that you can determine when you have a few minutes to get fresh air. You can also separate that out into different types of exercise. For example, my kids love to watch Kids Zumba. I’ll often put on a couple of songs and dance along with them. The important thing is to get up out of a chair and move as much as you can.
Eat the Right Things
Eating the right foods can not be overstated. What you eat often depends on what you need. Ask your doctor to test the vitamin content in your blood, and then eat what you need to avoid deficiency. Besides low iron, if you are short on vitamins D3 or B12 you may feel severely fatigued and even anxious, which can cause you to lose sleep – thus making you feel even more tired all day long. Even though you can buy D3 and B12 (with folate) to help with this issue, it is still best to get a blood test to rule out anything serious before starting with any treatments. Try to eat small and frequent meals throughout the day. This will give you a break, boost your energy, and help you stay more focused.
This one is kinda obvious. However, I suck at keeping track of my water intake. It can be very easy to get dehydrated. Most adults should drink between eight and ten 8-ounce glasses of water each day to stay hydrated. If you exercise strenuously you’ll need more. Tea, coffee, soda, and sugary drinks (even fake sugar) are all dehydrating and don’t do the same thing as clean, filtered water will. Take the challenge and commit to drinking enough water for 30 days, and you’ll see a huge difference. You can even add fresh lemon, ginger, or other fruits if you want something with a little flavor!
Take Regular Breaks
When you are doing mental work, sometimes it is difficult to take a break. Time flies by while you are working, and you just don’t notice. However, you must take regular breaks. Since the brain works in a 90-minute cycle, one way to achieve rest is to set a rest time of 5 to 10 minutes every 115 minutes. If necessary, set a timer. Get up and stretch, walk, eat some snacks, drink some water, then you will come back refreshed. Trust me it does help!
Understand That It’s OK to Do Nothing
A lot of working, busy people tend to be uncomfortable with downtime. They feel as if they’re slackers. Even if you have a mentally exhausting job as compared to a physically exhausting one, everyone needs to get away sometime. Letting your mind and body rest makes getting back to the tasks more enjoyable. Schedule your yearly vacations and do something fun or if you just stay home and look at local sites, that’s okay – everyone needs downtime and everyone needs time to do nothing.
Re-charge your Life
Recharging your body and overcoming fatigue so that you can get your life back is one of the most important ways you can improve the quality of your life. There is no reason you need to be exhausted and tired all the time. If it’s not a medical condition (and even if it is), you have a lot more control over how you feel each day than you think. It might be as simple as getting enough sleep and drinking enough water. You are the one with the power to figure it out. Don’t delay, so that you can get your life back and do wonderful things.