How Do You Fix an Exhausted Brain?
If you have ever felt like your brain wants to go on vacation due to stress and a demanding lifestyle, it was probably brain exhaustion. Not to worry, though, as there are ways to overcome it, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, staying organized, or even getting professional help if nothing else works.
Mental exhaustion is a state of tiredness that sets in when your brain’s energy levels are depleted. It arises from prolonged stress from work, relationships, and life in general. When the brain is exhausted, the ability to process new information and tasks or make informed decisions is impaired.
Lifestyle changes can help you address the issue before it persists, while coping strategies come in handy to help you feel more renewed.
In this article, we will look at all the ways you can treat and cope with brain exhaustion. We will also help you identify the symptoms of mental exhaustion to know when you need to seek help.
What causes Mental Exhaustion?
There are a host of factors that contribute to mental fatigue. They stem from the various aspects of our lives, including work, school, family, and other relationships.
Brain exhaustion is an all-too-common feeling nowadays. According to the World Health Organization, 3 out of 5 people in the American working class experience stress that leads to mental fatigue. It mainly manifests as drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating, and reduced work efficiency.
Long-term brain exhaustion can have dire consequences for your personal and professional well-being. And it can be difficult to address because stressors can accumulate slowly over time, and the impact may not be obvious right away. And while identifying the causes of mental exhaustion can be crucial to containing the problem, it may leave you wondering, “What next?”
It is crucial to find the root cause of your mental fatigue before you understand how to overcome it. Some of the common factors include:
Stress and Uncertainty
Experiencing stress over a long period leads to both mental and emotional fatigue. Uncertainties are created by new routines, social isolation, and the loss of loved ones, which leave us wondering and not sure about the future.
It causes cognitive dulling, a type of mental fatigue that causes a decline in productivity, difficulty concentrating, and poor mental health.
Sometimes you may experience an event that completely turns your life upside down and can add a great deal of unnecessary strain on your mental health. Most of the time, you may end up experiencing prolonged periods of grief that lead to emotional fatigue.
Uncomplicated grief causes short-term mental fatigue. Complicated grief, on the other hand, can bring on mental fatigue that impacts your mental health gradually.
A Demanding Life
Having an overly demanding life can drain you mentally. At work, you may be assigned a role that requires you to manage multiple workers and work long hours. This may lead to a poor balance between work and your personal life.
Additionally, juggling too many responsibilities at the same time at home and work can lead to chronic fatigue. This is especially true for people in the sandwich generation, who come home to take care of children and the elderly after a long day at work.
Living with a chronic condition is not easy, and it can be mentally and physically demoralizing. Illnesses like fibromyalgia, for instance, cause fatigue and sharp pains throughout the body. This will lead to depression, stress, and inability to do anything effectively.
Any type of weight problem can cause mental exhaustion. Overweight people are at a higher risk of fatigue because it increases the risk of conditions such as diabetes or sleep apnea. Carrying more weight can also make you experience regular joint or muscle pain, leading to or exacerbating fatigue.
Similarly, underweight people may tire easily, depending on the cause of their condition. Some common causes of being underweight are eating disorders, cancer, chronic diseases, and an overactive thyroid.
How Do You Know You Are Mentally Exhausted?
Mental fatigue develops slowly over time. This means that its symptoms are rarely noticeable as they develop gradually. The signs and symptoms are divided into physical and emotional. Let’s start with the emotional symptoms.
Emotional Symptoms of Mental Exhaustion
Emotional changes should be red flags for you, as they might be signs of mental exhaustion. Here are some emotional symptoms you should be wary of:
Mental fatigue and depression are interconnected in every aspect. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including stressful life events. When depression sets in, it’s characterized by a sense of hopelessness and a lack of energy to engage in daily activities.
As the most common symptom of mental fatigue, anxiety develops because exhaustion triggers the sympathetic nervous system. This causes you to be in a constant state of panic or worry about the future and the past.
People who suffer from anxiety also have a hard time making decisions as the fear of “what if” overtakes them. If you’re constantly feeling anxious, this should tell you something isn’t right with your mental health.
When you’re mentally fatigued, almost everything looks like a challenge and seems nearly impossible to overcome. This is due to a lack of inner strength and confidence, which makes you less resilient to life’s pressures.
An employee lacking resilience may easily crumble under the pressure of a challenging work assignment. It makes them see it as a major challenge rather than an opportunity to grow their skills and learn.
Languishing is a terrible feeling of emptiness and stagnation that develops when your mind feels out of energy. Someone in a state of languishing feels apathy and is disconnected from friends, family, and colleagues. If this feeling persists, it can gradually destroy healthy relationships and isolate you from the people in your life.
Physical Symptoms of Mental Exhaustion
The characteristics of mental fatigue are not just emotional. They can also show up as physical symptoms that may impair your physical health and well-being. Some of the symptoms are:
Poor Eating Habits
Unhealthy eating habits are common among people suffering from mental exhaustion. According to the National Library of Medicine, when under pressure, stress, and mental fatigue, most young adults are more likely to engage in emotional eating or eat less.
Failure to get the proper nutrients and indulging in sugary junk food impairs cognitive abilities and contributes to emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.
Lack of Sleep
Most people suffering from mental exhaustion often have trouble sleeping adequately and may even suffer from insomnia. These complications arise due to the emotional side effects of mental fatigue, such as anxiety or depression.
Always worrying about other things apart from the present, and staying alert, makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, clinical depression causes you to oversleep, leading to various health conditions.
A weakened mental state can lead to physical complications, which lead to various illnesses, including muscle aches and tenderness, headaches and migraines, stomach problems, and a weakened immune system.
Your body and mind are interconnected, so your mental health has a direct effect on your physical health. Mental exhaustion results in physical exhaustion due to the high level of stress that causes poor judgment and also causes you to feel tired, weary, and very lethargic.
How to Fix an Exhausted Brain
Although when you are mentally exhausted, you might feel like there is no way out, there are ways to fix it. Here are some simple things you can do to recover from brain exhaustion:
Get More Sleep
Quality sleep is essential for overall health, which includes your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Sleep may take a backseat to everything else when you’re under a lot of stress, but this is the time you need it the most.
Though cutting back on sleep may seem like a good way to get more things done, the most likely outcome is that it’ll leave you unable to concentrate and get things done.
Getting the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep is essential to reducing mental exhaustion. If you find sleep hard to come by, you could experiment with new bedtime routines such as taking a hot bath, playing soothing music or stretching gently before going to bed.
What you put in your body has a direct effect on your mental health. When you’re dealing with mental fatigue, exhaustion could make you turn to soothing foods. These foods may be high in sugar or contain empty calories. And while there is no problem with having a treat, you may want to check on the helpful nutrients you take.
How does a well-balanced diet affect mental health? Drinking enough water and eating healthy foods increases serotonin. High serotonin levels increase your mental energy and resilience while boosting your cognitive ability.
High fiber, protein-rich, and whole-grain foods are some of the best brain foods you can have in any meal. However, if you’re too stressed or held up to have a proper meal, nutritious snacks like fruits, yogurts, and nuts should do the job.
Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of fixing an exhausted brain, as it provides a quick refresh. If work has sapped your concentration, get out and take a walk. According to BioMed Central, higher physical activity results in less mental fatigue.
That said, you don’t need to engage in a complex or high-intensity activity to reap the benefits, either. If you’re able to, moderate exercise for at least three hours a week can make a major difference in your mood and leave you feeling calmer and more relaxed.
However, maintaining a regular exercise schedule can be a daunting task. But there are several hacks that you can incorporate to make it work. These include hiring a personal trainer, and if you can’t afford it, have a friend help and give you company during the exercise.
There are several mindfulness practices that can help you reduce stress and exhaustion. The best approach is to pay attention to what is happening around you. This will help you achieve a sense of awareness about things, people, and behaviors that could potentially leave you stressed out.
Moreover, it helps you stay involved and focused on the present, rather than thinking about past challenges that ignite stress or future events that pile pressure on you. More importantly, you not only need to observe what’s happening but also what you think and feel about it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Trying to do everything to please everyone can leave your brain exhausted. Every aspect of life has its own demands, but when you have to spend extra time on one, every aspect will fail.
However, saying no can be hard. After all, who doesn’t feel bad about turning down a loved one asking for help?
Even at work, you may feel the need to take on extra tasks that you’re assigned in order to prove your worth, get a raise, or earn a promotion.
As one person, it’s simply difficult to support everyone in your life simultaneously. To handle this issue, support your own needs and make it a habit to say no when you don’t have time to help out or are burdened with other tasks.
To maintain proper physical and mental health, you need to tidy your space up from time to time. The first step to staying organized is getting rid of all non-essential items and tasks that worry you. This is crucial to staying focused, motivated, and productive for longer periods without exhausting your brain.
The best way to keep things organized without letting them overwhelm you is to assign a proper place to everything and clean up the mess right after you’ve finished a task.
For instance, try doing the dishes as soon as you’ve had your meal to avoid thinking about it, organize your desk every day before heading home so that you have a clean slate to start with the next morning, and make your bed immediately after waking up so that you won’t worry about it during the day.
Get Professional Help
It’s easy to ignore the signs and symptoms of mental fatigue and exhaustion when they become a regular occurrence. You can go for medication, but the wrong medication can have even more negative effects on your mental well-being. This is why it’s important to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling emotionally and mentally.
If you’re feeling lost, it wouldn’t hurt to talk to a professional. Processing your inner feelings could be a hard experience, and it may help to see your thoughts from an outside perspective.
Mental exhaustion can occur when your brain receives too much stimulation or has to maintain a high level of strenuous activity without time to rest. If left untreated, it can have a major impact on mental and physical wellness, and eventually, it may affect your relationships with others and overall quality of input and output in every aspect of life.
Prioritizing sleep, getting enough exercise, and employing relaxation techniques can all provide some relief. Professional support can also make a huge difference in your mental health before it gets any worse.
Seeing a therapist can offer more guidance on treatments for mental fatigue and help with the resources and strategies you need to cope with stress and prevent mental exhaustion in the future.
At Iris Reading, we are committed to help you improve productivity in every aspect of your life. Join our Personal Productivity course today and learn everything you need to know about fixing brain exhaustion.