You might be a victim of mental exhaustion if you have been feeling super stressed and worn down lately. So what does it mean to be mentally drained?
Mental exhaustion can be understood as a prolonged state of fatigue that affects one's cognition process as a result of consistent stress and anxiety. As the body needs rest after an intense workout routine, similarly, our cognitive systems also need it. Your body is not a machine that can run constantly.
What is mental exhaustion?
Mental exhaustion occurs when the amount of rest isn't proportional to the cognitive energy one expends throughout the day. This can be challenging to identify because it progresses very gradually over a period of time.
Mental exhaustion can affect you in the short term as well as the long term. Irritability, brain fog, a lack of motivation, insomnia, and eating disorders are all common symptoms.
There are numerous potential causes of this condition, but the most common include work-life imbalance, financial distress, lack of sleep, and major life-altering events. Mental exhaustion can lead to a ton of health problems, like anxiety and burnout, if not cared for.
Difference between mental and emotional exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion can lead to mental exhaustion and vice versa. When a person is mentally exhausted, it can be particularly tough to balance their emotional reactions because of their inability to control their stress levels. You may react by being irritable, angry, or anxious as well.
When they are emotionally exhausted, this can impact their attention spans, ability to focus or concentrate, and retention or processing of information. The recognizable signs of emotional exhaustion are that it can minimize your ability of emotional decisions making as well.
What to Do When Mentally Exhausted?
Being mentally exhausted is not a sign of weakness but an alarming need for us to take care of ourselves better and take as much time and rest as possible to bounce back. Here are some of the coping strategies to reduce mental fatigue that can help:
1) Take a Stroll
Allow yourself a walk, ideally outside. Workout doesn’t have to be an intense weight lifting or a cycling class that leaves you drenched in sweat. Gentler types of physical activity can calm your overall mood and make you connected to your environment. Taking a walk outside has tons of overall benefits apart from relieving stress. It's time to bring this into our daily routine.
2) Limit your Screen Time
Your mind is constantly perceiving negative or stimulative content throughout the day. The mindless scrolling on social media is a sure recipe to further drain you of your vital energy, let alone give you restfulness.
This is exhausting for your emotional and cognitive processes, and it interferes with your sleep. Take a break from excessive screen time as this will help you regulate your neurotransmitters and reduce stress levels.
3) Avoid the Stressors
Reduce draining activities and introduce rejuvenating ones into your life. It's important to replace exhaustion with loads of positive energy. These activities can include going to a movie theater, dancing to your favorite music album, reaching out to a friend, or treating yourself to a delicious meal.
4) Cultivate Stillness Within
Stillness does not mean only of the mind or body; stillness goes in many deeper and more profound ways in one's life. Start by practicing stillness in your speech, how you move, how you eat, and how you breathe, sit, and stand.
Try to engage in this everywhere possible, because the idea is to sow the seeds of stillness in one's thoughts, emotions, and actions. Yoga is a great tool in this direction. This will definitely lower stress levels and empower people to lead the life they desire.
5) Seek Support When Needed
Reach out to those you love and care for. It is important to remember that being mentally exhausted is not a weakness or something to be ashamed of. Chatting with friends and family can ease you up and introduce a degree of playfulness into your life.
It is convenient to dismiss mental exhaustion at a given moment, but as time passes, it can take a huge toll on your mental as well as physical health, along with your relationships.
If you feel like nothing seems to be working for you, reach out to a professional so that guided treatment options can be explored in order for you to cultivate a life free from toxic stressors and negativity. Mental exhaustion is real! This is your cue to take a break!
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
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