You might be struggling to get that extra leg up in the workplace, or maybe you’ve noticed a significant decline in your performance and motivation regarding career goals. Whatever the reason, if achieving all those career goals suddenly seems impossible, this may be due to mental fatigue.
Mental fatigue occurs to the best of us, often a symptom of traumatic or stressful personal or work-related events. While mental fatigue is usually only in your head, it can feel suffocating.
However, you don’t want mental fatigue to get the best of you. You can take steps to prevent and cure mental fatigue to get back on track with your planned career path.
We will share the best tricks to identify and solve mental fatigue. Our goal is to allow you to take back control of your life and your career with this comprehensive guide to managing mental fatigue.
What Is Mental Fatigue?
Mental fatigue is easily identified by constant, overwhelming feelings of exhaustion. This often happens because of significant stress or strain in your personal or work life.
Mental fatigue sets in when the brain’s energy level becomes insufficient—the depletion results in a state of exhaustion that can feel impossible to shake.
The Science of Mental Fatigue
Long-term mental activity accumulates neurotransmitters in the brain. In response, the brain slows down this activity to manage the build-up of neurotransmitters in the prefrontal cortex.
Scientists have discovered that this build-up in the prefrontal cortex may be compared to the accumulation of lactate in the muscles after physical activities. In this sense, mental fatigue is a similar reaction to physical fatigue from exercise.
Decision-making and cognitive control occur in the prefrontal cortex. This region of the brain is a crucial proponent of your career goals and work-life balance.
How Mental Fatigue May Be Affecting Your Life
Mental fatigue may start with minor symptoms resembling exhaustion or lack of sleep. However, if mental fatigue is left unaddressed, it can grow to have more severe repercussions on your mental and physical well-being.
Mental fatigue may first rear its head with these emotional symptoms. The fact that these symptoms are so broad may make it difficult to self-diagnose yourself with mental fatigue.
- Anxiety. You may notice consistent feelings of anxiety or unshakable fear. Prolonged mental fatigue may trigger the “fight or flight” mode in the brain, resulting in high anxiety that can be hard to eliminate.
- Depression. Mental fatigue and depression often accompany one another. Depression can often trigger mental fatigue, and mental fatigue can often trigger depression. Feelings of hopelessness characterize depression.
- A decline in mental clarity. This decline in mental clarity may feel like a detached feeling from friends and family. You cannot focus on issues or work up motivation for simple tasks.
- High vulnerability. You are feeling vulnerable and weak from mundane activities. You may feel like “giving up” on simple tasks much quicker than expected.
If you are experiencing any of the emotional symptoms, try to take action to cure mental fatigue first to see where the problem may stem from.
Many physical symptoms of mental fatigue result from the long-term occurrence of emotional symptoms. All aspects are closely connected and make mental fatigue a severe threat to your overall well-being.
- Trouble sleeping. Mental fatigue often places you in a constant state of worry or anxiety. This can affect your ability to fall asleep, possibly resulting in insomnia over time.
- Physical exhaustion. Mental exhaustion and physical exhaustion tend to go hand-in-hand. You are likely tired and unmotivated if you have trouble focusing, sleeping, and functioning correctly.
- Weakened immune system. When you suffer long-term mental fatigue, your body’s ability to fight off common illnesses is significantly dampened.
- Poor eating habits. Your motivation to eat healthily and work out goes right out the window with mental fatigue. You may struggle to be interested in healthy foods and begin resorting to fast and unhealthy meals.
Extended mental fatigue can result in even further physical symptoms that may cause some harm to your physical health.
Dealing with mental fatigue’s emotional and physical symptoms may result in some unwanted behavioral symptoms.
- Putting off tasks. Your lack of interest may end with you avoiding your usual duties and functions. You might be calling off of work more often and procrastinating more than usual.
- A decline in work performance. When you get the motivation to work, your overall performance is much lower than your standards.
- Avoidance. You might start avoiding friends and family due to a decline in your emotional well-being.
- Irritability. A lack of sleep and constant exhaustion can cause severe irritability and frequent mood swings.
- Trouble managing simple tasks. You may struggle to keep your commitments straight and juggle simple work tasks. This results from constant exhaustion that makes it difficult to think clearly.
All these symptoms can make an appearance in anyone suffering from mental fatigue. Once you identify it, you can take healthy steps toward a solution.
Mental Fatigue Impact on Your Career Goals
Mental fatigue can affect every single area of your life, including your path to your career goals.
This can be incredibly frustrating when you have worked hard to stay on track and reach all those goals.
Fortunately, mental fatigue is a temporary occurrence. If you take the right actions, health choices, and lifestyle changes, you can reverse the negative impact on your career goals.
The moral of the story and the mission of this article is to help you understand that you don’t have to let mental fatigue get the best of you.
Who Is at Most Risk of Mental Fatigue?
There is no easy answer to this question. Everyone can fall victim to mental fatigue. Most people experience some level of mental exhaustion at some point in their life, though it may be more severe for some.
People who are at a higher risk of mental fatigue tend to be those with more pressure and challenges in life, including:
- Those in a high-pressure work environment
- Those who frequently travel for work
- Those handling the pressure of a family member with a severe illness
- Those navigating a serious illness or disease
- People who aim to be “perfectionists”
- Those who are high-strung or tend to “overanalyze”
You can’t pinpoint one specific trait that leads to mental fatigue because it tends to be a combination of personality traits and real-life events. The only way around it is to learn healthy coping mechanisms and practice proper management.
What Causes Mental Fatigue
Although mental fatigue is most often a result of extended stress in your life, various situations can trigger debilitating mental fatigue. We will review some of the most common causes of cognitive fatigue in most adults.
Many events can trigger mental fatigue, and it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact origin. Keep in mind that the list is not limited to these causes. These are only the most common activators of mental fatigue in adults nowadays.
Long-term stress is the most common cause of mental fatigue. Long-term stress is often defined as a “consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time.”1
Long-term stress can be sourced from work stress, long hours, making too many commitments, or family problems.
In addition to mental fatigue, long-term stress can cause a series of other severe health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
Long-term stress is no light matter. While you may think it will pass in time, you often want to take the appropriate steps to limit your exposure to mentally exhausting stress factors.
Too Much Clutter
Believe it or not, clutter in your physical surroundings can significantly impact the brain. One recent study found that chaos in your living or working area triggers the production of cortisol in the brain.2 The result is higher stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue levels.
Constant Work Travel
People who frequently travel for work may be at a higher risk of mental fatigue. In addition to the constant stress associated with traveling and maintaining a regular timetable for the next flight, frequent flyers must deal with continual time zone changes.
Time zone changes may make keeping a steady sleep schedule challenging, interrupting your relaxation time and disrupting the formation of a routine.
Perfectionists may be more likely to worry about overthinking simple tasks that others spend little time on. The constant need to perform at the best possible level may place unnecessary stress and performance anxiety in your life.
Lack of Sleep and Self Care
Sleep is a time for your body to recuperate and build coping mechanisms. You need to get enough sleep to give your body and brain the much-needed break from a busy lifestyle.
On a similar note, denying yourself simple self-care acts may drastically affect your emotional well-being. Self-care looks different for everyone. It may look like taking an hour to enjoy your book, watch your favorite show, go on that solo hike, or enjoy dinner with your friends.
Regardless of how you define your self-care, this is essential to slow down the brain while enjoying your favorite activities.
Family/Home Life Issues
Family problems are a common source of mental fatigue. Family and home life issues can be in the form of various things. It could be a relatively painful divorce or break-up. Maybe it is an illness of a close family member that requires more time and commitment from you. It could be from a recent move to a new apartment in a new neighborhood.
One of the most challenging things about mental fatigue from family issues is how unavoidable it is. There isn’t always something you can do about a sick family member or a long-lasting divorce. The best thing to do is learn of healthy coping mechanisms to avoid the over-production of cortisol or other possibly harmful chemicals in the brain.
9 Tips on How to Address Mental Fatigue
Addressing mental fatigue may seem useless at first glance, but you can do many different things to help your body and brain. These nine tips are suggestions that give your brain a break it needs to prevent and curtail unwanted mental fatigue.
1. Frequently Exercise
Exercise is an integral part of keeping mental fatigue at bay. There are dozens of scientific studies showing regular exercise’s effect on increased energy levels. In addition, exercise can help you stay in shape or lose excess weight. Weight loss can improve fatigue and energy levels.
Try to come up with a good exercise schedule and stick to it. You should choose the types of physical exercise that you like so that it is easier to commit. For example, if you love the water, consider joining a gym with a pool or making time for the beach/lake near you.
2. Balanced Diet
A balanced, nutritious diet can go a long way for your mental fatigue. You want to avoid processed foods, excessive carbs, and high-sugar foods. Here are some foods that are coined “brain foods” to help boost you out of mental fatigue:
- Olive Oil
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Dark Chocolate
- Citrus Fruits
These are just some of the foods that contain the necessary vitamins and minerals for a mental lift. There are a lot of other foods to consider, as well. But the most important thing is keeping a balanced diet free of harmful ingredients.
3. Remove Unnecessary Stressors
If it is possible, cut out unnecessary stressors in your life. You may need to cut back on some volunteering work to give yourself more time or limit communication with a negative family member/friend.
It can be hard to limit the stressors in your life, however. Another way is to work on healthy and safe coping mechanisms to handle stressful situations better.
4. Remove Clutter
It has already been established that physical clutter in your house or workplace can trigger anxiety and result in a greater chance of mental fatigue. Try to keep your personal space clear of all clutter. You will feel more organized and prepared to achieve your goals.
5. Create A Work-Life Balance
Our society places a lot of pressure on our future and career goals. Remember that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is key to avoiding mental fatigue. That means you shouldn’t be overworking yourself when you are not on the clock.
Schedule time with your friends, family, and loved ones. If it helps, you can create a schedule that will motivate you to keep these two different aspects of your life separate.
6. Breaks For Self-Care
It can be easy to overwork yourself, especially if you are working toward big career goals. But remember that “self-care” is vital. Self-care is different for everyone.
The important thing here is to schedule time for yourself and the things you love. This can significantly reduce the perceived pressure in your mind.
7. Spend More Time Outside
Forcing yourself to spend more time outside is a great way to slow down and step away from work and other stressors in your life. You can go on a short walk around the neighborhood, hike a nearby trail, or even a long drive through a surrounding scenic area.
There are a lot of ways to spend outside time. Vitamin D will be good for you while working as a distraction from stress.
8. Practice Meditation
Meditation isn’t for everyone, but it may help manage stress better. Meditation and breathing exercises are practically designed to assist those with mental fatigue. Meditation forces you to get out of your brain and focus on only the most mundane tasks, like breathing.
9. Talk To Someone
Opening up to someone regarding your mental fatigue or other problems can be difficult but sometimes necessary. Talking may help you get it off your chest. It can also allow you to clear the brain.
You can try to open up to a close friend, family member, or even a therapist for an outside perspective.
There are many other suggestions to clear your mind of mental fatigue, but these nine tips are a great starting point for anyone. The most important thing to do is make health-conscious choices and work on effectively managing stress to avoid the onset of mental fatigue symptoms.
The Benefits Of Curing Your Mental Fatigue For Your Future
Once you begin the process of preventing or curing mental fatigue, all your future goals should be so much easier. Trying to accomplish anything in life can be made much more challenging with the presence of mental exhaustion.
These are a few of the things you can look forward to regarding your career goals and professional motivation without the cloud of mental fatigue hanging over your head.
Mental fatigue makes even the simplest of tasks feel like a huge burden. When it comes to the workplace, mental fatigue dramatically reduces output. In addition, mental exhaustion can negatively impact your relationships at work and your ability to concentrate and leads to poor judgment.3 These are all crucial factors in a workplace setting.
Taking the proper steps to reduce and cure mental fatigue will positively sway your productivity in the workplace, leading you closer and closer to all your career goals.
Accomplishing great things is made so much more difficult by mental fatigue.
Higher Level Of Engagement
Mental fatigue, sometimes called “burnout,” dramatically decreases your interest in work tasks and career goals. Your goals may seem too far off, and your work tasks might not feel rewarding, significantly lowering your engagement quality.
Once you eliminate the existing mental fatigue, you will notice a sharpness that wasn’t there before surrounding your work output and work interactions. This can bring you down the right path toward accomplishing all your career goals.
You might have lost interest in many of your career goals during the development of mental fatigue. It is virtually impossible to make those great strides toward your career goals when you simply don’t have the motivation to do so.
Decreasing your mental fatigue will result in better sleep, concentration, motivation, and ambition. All of this canThiseel more motivated toward finally achieving your goals.
Greater Work Performance Satisfaction
Not only will work and career goals become much more manageable, but you’ll also feel better about your output. Satisfaction is vital for your motivation levels.
You will have even more drive to accomplish your career goals when you are genuinely happy with your projects, performance, and accomplishments.
End The Battle With Mental Fatigue
Sometimes life, the competitive work environment, and family ties can interfere with the direction we want to go in life. It isn’t your fault if your career goals have been set on the back burner while you handle a stressful schedule. In fact, it is perfectly natural.
Don’t feel bad about allowing mental fatigue to take a little hold over your direction. Mental fatigue is something that can be handled. We all go through periods associated with high mental fatigue and physical exhaustion.
All you have to do is take the proper steps to lift yourself out of this fatigue. It may be difficult at first, but you will do great justice to your mind and body and progress toward your career goals.