Lately, I’m finding I’m tired. There’s definitely a component related to decreased kidney function, but more than that I’m mentally fatigued. My last post was a Ted talk on depression, which got me thinking about the things we can do to stay on top of our serotonin levels (watch that here). And some of the things that help with depression will help with mental fatigue too. Mental fatigue is more about layers: layers of stress, from stress about decision-making to life circumstances to excitement (yes, even the good kind of stress). Psychology Today points to these 3 signs that you may be mentally exhausted:
- Physical fatigue. Your body feels tired and you’d rather curl up on the lawn chair with a margarita than head for a run at the end of the day, even though you spent most of your day sitting at a desk.
- Impatience and Irritability. You become snappish with others and may be more quickly triggered to anger or upset.
- Inability to concentrate or focus. It becomes harder to finish your work or tasks. You may find it more difficult to make decisions, find the right word, or focus on one job at a time.
This exhaustion, if not taken care of early can lead to stress-related illness, burnout, despondency and lack of usual zest for life. And of course, that all can lead in to further episodes of depression or anxiety if you happen to be prone to those things.
Looking after your mental health is vital. Often times we really believe it is needed, but when we think about that we think about other people. We don’t consider what we need. But everyone has a breaking point and we need to make sure we aren’t coming up against ours. Once you reach that point, it’s a little late. To be proactive in your mental health strategies is to practice when you feel pretty good.
A few relatively easy ways to decrease everyday stress:
Make fewer decisions: If at work, can you delegate some of the decision making? Can you recruit a couple of solid team members to help each other out? At home, do you have a co-parent?
Get outside: or even look outside: being in nature is an immediate stress reducer, but even looking out at a scene of nature will help mental fatigue.
Exercise: And this means anything from walking to dancing to whatever other form of exercise you like and feel drawn to.
Vacation: Can you get away? Taking some time off from the usual routine can be a great help. And that doesn’t have to be out of town or something expensive. A change in what you do on a daily basis is the key.
These are a few recommendations from psychologists about how to deal with mental fatigue. Of course, aside from having a degree is psychology, I’m a yoga teacher! I can’t talk about fatigue without talking about breath work. Moving prana (life energy) through the body is a great way to combat stress, wake yourself up (with certain techniques) or get yourself to sleep with other techniques. Come back for more next week on the various techniques of breath work. To get you started though, you can read an earlier post on that touches on breathing for stress reduction.