Strategies to Combat Mental Fatigue

Written by on March 24, 2021 in Self-Awareness, Self-Care
mental fatigue

Sometimes the mind, for reasons we don’t necessarily understand, just decides to go to the store for a quart of milk.

~ Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider

If this quote resonates with you then chances are you understand all too well how mental fatigue can leave you feeling unfocused, unmotivated, and unable to decide what to do next.

It can manifest itself in the smallest ways.

You forget why you walked into a room, can’t decide what to eat or what to do next. 

Mental exhaustion can be the result of health issues, but more often than not it is the result of too much: too much to worry about, too many decisions to make, and too much stress and anxiety fueled by poor nutrition and lack of quality sleep.

The more fatigued your mind grows the greater the struggle to keep up with the demands of the day. It becomes harder to make healthy choices, stay productive, and manage even normal daily stressors.

It is so important to understand that this isn’t about how much willpower or self-control you have, it’s about your level of mental energy not how tough you are.

Fortunately, as soon as you understand what you’re experiencing and take steps to address the problem at the source level you’ll begin to feel better.

How to Beat Mental Fatigue

I think it’s safe to say that over the past year and our collective journey through the pandemic, most of us have experienced at least a few of the following symptoms of mental fatigue. 

  • Headaches
  • Low energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to enjoy fun activities
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Change in eating patterns – stress eating or loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

Any of this sound familiar?

It is absolutely possible for you to not become a victim of mental fatigue but it requires self-awareness, consistency, and commitment.

You’ll find no quick fixes here. There is a place for short-term relief when we’re going through a particularly difficult patch, but the benefits are temporary and they won’t prevent you from experiencing the symptoms of mental fatigue again … and again.

The following strategies represent lifestyle choices so they do require work, discipline, and commitment.

The goal is to focus on your long-term health and well-being, and your ability to enjoy your life to the fullest.

Focus on Decisions That Matter

I’ll bet you don’t need a research study to tell you that constant decision-making is mentally exhausting, and yet there are days when it seems like that’s all we do.

Experts tell us that we make hundreds of decisions every day so to avoid mental fatigue we should strive to make fewer … and I don’t disagree.

But I do think that we need to acknowledge that all decisions are not created equal and rather than make it a numbers game, we might want to ask ourselves if we’re investing our energy in making decisions that really matter.

Take a little time to identify the types of issues you have to deal with on a regular basis and look for patterns.

Then ask yourself some tough questions, for instance:

  • Do I have clearly defined priorities to guide me or am I responding to who or whatever is yelling the loudest for my attention?
  • Am I making decisions about the same things again and again? Is it something I can resolve, delegate, or remove once and for all?
  • Do I have a problem with over-committing because I can’t bring myself to say ‘no’?
  • Can I batch repetitive tasks so I don’t have to do them as often?
  • Am I making decisions that someone else could (should) be making? What is preventing me from encouraging them to be accountable?

The added confidence and sense of control you’ll gain by learning to invest your energy in making choices that matter will more than compensate for the time it takes to put your decision-making process under the microscope for a couple of hours.

Related reading:

Confront the Habit of Avoidance

It really is amazing all of the different ways we avoid the discomfort of everything from a difficult conversation to experiencing new and unfamiliar surroundings.

Simply saying you’re just being sensible, or waiting for the right time or circumstances is an effective catch-all shield for avoiding all sorts of perceived risks.

Avoidance may result in a temporary sense of relief, but in the long run, whatever you’re avoiding tends to increase, eroding confidence and mental energy, even as it fuels stress and anxiety.

Is there anything you are avoiding right now that you can work to eliminate or resolve?

Related reading:

Make Self-Care a Priority

Making you a priority in your own life is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being – and the easiest for most of us to neglect.  

Beyond the usual excuses, lack of time, resources, or support, we tend to view self-care either as a reward or a quick fix for frayed nerves.

Living in a constant state of energy depletion can have a profound effect on your life, causing you to become increasingly impatient with loved ones, more prone to illness, and struggling to concentrate or be productive.

An effective self-care regime will reduce the negative effects of stress, prevent burnout, increase your energy, and help you to refocus and build stronger more intimate relations.

The Takeaway

I want to close by emphasizing that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions to mental or emotional fatigue, but even when you’re going through a period of hardship or an unplanned or unwelcomed life transition these strategies will serve to greatly reduce stress and boost your health and well-being.

The better you take care of yourself, the more energy you will have and the more you will be able to enjoy life.

So give your exhausted mind a break!

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and founder of Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

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