The human mind has extraordinary faculties but to optimize them it is necessary to do a correct “maintenance” by granting us spaces for rest and recovery, especially when mental fatigue is looming.
Everyone can go through moments of stress when the mind seems overloaded, it is difficult to rest and just as much to concentrate to be productive as you would like. These periods of mental fatigue should not be neglected for too long: it is useless to continue running to regain lost efficiency, sometimes the best thing is, despite everything, to stop. Let’s see 5 practical tips to learn how to do it … before it’s too late!
1 Find a way to “pull the plug”
Imagine you are at an exhibition of Impressionist paintings, the colors on the canvas stand out and attract the attention of the observer, but if you get too close to the drawing the brush strokes will blend together to the point of preventing you from distinguishing the outlines of people and objects in the picture. You will need to take several steps back and put yourself at a greater distance to get the right perspective and appreciate the painting as a whole with its set of lights and shadows. In moments in which you are overwhelmed by mental fatigue it is as if you are too close to the picture: you are so “immersed” in problems, difficulties and negative moods that you risk being overwhelmed by all this, feeding a lived experience of impotence and block. If you recognize yourself in this scenario, it could be very useful for you to find a way to disconnect, temporarily clear your mind of thoughts and worries to return only later, with a fresher and more rested perspective. It is not always possible to leave for a holiday or a trip, but you can also find moments of “detachment” in everyday life. One of the most useful ways may be to engage in physical or manual activity: body exercise produces endorphins that nourish well-being and good mood. But even a simple manual activity that has nothing sporting about it (for example gardening, decupage, painting the walls of a room, decluttering ..) It can prove invaluable: it helps to “reorganize” the mind, concentrating it on an activity practice, possibly a source of satisfaction or pleasure, distracting it from something else.
2 Plan your time
In moments of mental fatigue it may happen that we tend to procrastinate, to leave things to do pending for days waiting to have the energy to deal with them … In reality this mechanism can aggravate the problem for two reasons: the things to do will become chronically unresolved generating further anxiety and stress, this will lead us to go back to our minds and try to “recover” in the moments that would have instead been dedicated to rest, leisure or affections. The risk is that a vicious circle is established where the more things are left in suspense, the more they tend to “haunt” and saturate every space of the mind and of the day. Better to schedule defined times to devote to an activity, perhaps starting with those that can be exhausted in less time (which can immediately give a sense of effectiveness) perhaps with the help of some Time Management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique. Sometimes the feeling of greater fatigue comes from the idea of having to activate to get started, but once you have started things flow less tiringly than you previously perceived when they were left hanging …
3 Adopt proper sleep hygiene
In this society where it is said that time is money and where it seems that if you are not busy you do not exist, it may seem superfluous to pay attention to proper sleep hygiene: an aspect that we too often take for granted. Yet it is one of the first areas to fail when mental fatigue builds up: thoughts keep you awake, preventing you from falling asleep, you fall asleep very late perhaps in front of some TV series regardless of the alarm clock programmed in the morning … If you are burdened with too much mental fatigue Doing grueling binge watching marathons can be counterproductive precisely for the quality of sleep. In fact, it has been studied how TV series are specifically structured to leave the viewer “in suspense” at the end of each episode: the narrative plot does not come to a conclusion, but is interrupted “at the most beautiful”. This activates the mind and naturally induces to continue with the next episode. The result is that not only will you stay in front of the TV until late at night, but, above all, you will risk going to sleep with your mind still “active” (unless you finish an entire series in one evening, it doesn’t matter. how many episodes you have watched, at a certain point you will have to turn off and leave the story pending) therefore anything but predisposed to sleep. It has been studied that watching a film produces the diametrically opposite effect: mental arousal reaches its climax in the center of the story and then decreases as the plot resolves until the final when the excitement and attention decrease and a sense of relaxation takes over. This mental condition is the most useful for preparing for the transition between wakefulness and sleep: a passage which, especially in moments of mental fatigue, requires some extra care and, why not, can be facilitated by some small evening “ritual” ( a cup of herbal tea, a hot bath, etc.). Banned, of course, smartphones and tablets which, according to experts, should be turned off already an hour or two before bedtime.
4 Learn a relaxation technique
When we are in a period of severe mental fatigue, our body may find it difficult to relax as it should: postural tensions, migraines, gastrointestinal disorders and others remain that prevent access to rest. Learning a relaxation technique can be helpful in allowing your body and mind to regain energy throughout the day. One method, for example, is Autogenic Training which, although it needs to be learned under the guidance of an expert professional, can then be used independently in every circumstance of daily life. And, never as in this case, anticipating is essential: that is, giving oneself fixed moments in the daily routine to devote to relaxation (just a few minutes are enough) precisely to prevent states of excessive stress. Therefore, not only a method to be used in the most “acute” moments as an emergency remedy, but also above all for preventive purposes.
5 Start saying no …
It can happen to some people – due to their character modalities or as a transient reaction to a period of stress – to react to mental fatigue by loading even more thoughts, tasks and things to do that they cannot or absolutely cannot postpone or delegate to others. It may seem like a contradiction and yet it can be a completely unthinking strategy with which some react to moments of mental overload, naturally risking making things worse. For some it may be the “fear of emptiness”: rather than having free time and risking dealing with negative moods, we tend to increase commitments in an attempt, often unconscious, to get distracted and not think. For others it may be a way to recover a sense of effectiveness and mastery over events: faced with a stress factor that is partly beyond one’s control or a problem that cannot be solved, some experience a sense of helplessness and frustration that they instinctively try to compensate by taking a leading role in other situations in their lives. The risk is that all this undermines productivity in other areas as well as of course worsening mental fatigue. It is therefore essential, if you recognize yourself in this mechanism, to start saying no, precisely in those situations where it seems most impossible to do so, sometimes for some it may also be useful to resort to the advice of a psychologist.