How to Overcome Mental Fatigue (According to 20+ Experts)

Are you feeling mentally exhausted? Do you find yourself struggling to focus and feeling overwhelmed?

Mental fatigue is a common problem that can easily take over your life if you’re not careful. But fortunately, there are ways to overcome it.

According to mental health experts and other professionals, there are ways to overcome mental fatigue and get your life back on track:

Jennifer Henry, LPC, CCATP

Jennifer Henry

Director of the Counseling Center, Maryville University

Take care of your physical health 

Make sure that you are taking care of your physical health:

  • Get enough sleep at night (not just splicing together naps; focus on regular full nights of sleep).
  • Drink enough water.
  • Get enough nutrition and calories for your brain to function well.
  • Get some physical activity in a form that you enjoy (you don’t have to torture yourself by doing the treadmill or lifting weights if you don’t like them. If you enjoy being outdoors, go for a hike or walk in the park).

Take time to go for a walk around the block or in a park. Sit on a bench outside for 10 minutes. If possible, leave your phone on silent so that you can be present while outdoors. Being in “green space” has been shown to have numerous mental and physical health benefits. 

Focus on your five senses while you’re outside. Paying attention to what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch allows your mind to be present at the moment.

Simplify your life in whatever ways you can

If there are commitments that take up time and are not necessary, cancel them. If you can organize your schedule for the week and put it on paper, this can help eliminate thoughts of “what was I supposed to do this evening?” 

You can also simplify your life by eliminating the need to make certain daily decisions. We have so many choices every single day, and by the end of the day, it can feel exhausting and overwhelming. You can cut down on “decision fatigue” by making decisions beforehand. 

For example, prep all your lunches for the whole week or decide in advance what you will have for meals and make sure they are simple. 

This cuts down on daily questions such as “should I eat out? If I stay home, what can I make? Do I need to go to the store?” when you haven’t planned. 

Another way to simplify might be setting aside a certain amount of time in the morning and a certain amount of time in the evening to read and respond to emails. 

Instead of constantly looking at your phone notifications to see if anything new came through and constantly going back and forth between email and other parts of your day.

Focus on mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present. It involves spending time paying full attention to the present moment. This is the opposite of rushing or multi-tasking, which are practices that often lead to mental fatigue. 

Mindfulness can be practiced through mindfulness meditation. It can also be practiced in numerous other ways, such as choosing something that you do every day on “autopilot” and intentionally doing that activity mindfully, paying attention to your five senses.

Related: How to Improve Mindfulness and Meditation (Using Your Learning Style)

Declutter your things

Decluttering can do wonders for preventing or reducing mental fatigue. This might involve purging your closet, organizing your spice cabinet, or even deleting apps on your phone that you don’t use. 

It might include turning off “notifications” on your phone that constantly interrupt you every time you get a new Facebook message or email.

Related: How to Declutter Your Home for Simple Living?

Practice gratitude

The practice of gratitude has been shown to contribute greatly to overall happiness and well-being. By intentionally looking for things we are thankful for, the frustrations and stresses of everyday life tend to seem less overwhelming and loud.

Jennifer Browning, LCPC

Jennifer Browning

Nationally Certified Counselor | CEO, FCS Meridian

Make sure you take care of your basic needs first

In today’s busy life and after the last two years of COVID, we find ourselves with more tasks on our plate and more “things to get done” all the time. 

It can be challenging to feel like the world is stretching you in all different directions. Mental fatigue can seem just around the corner, but there is hope! 

By intentionally implementing different kinds of self-care, you can help yourself continue to have and find the energy that seems so easily lost. 

Some of the best ways to overcome mental fatigue include making sure we take care of our basic needs first. Self-care has become a catchphrase in our culture lately, but it is not without some strong and applicable truths. 

Imagine you are on an airline and the oxygen masks come down. The instructions are to put on your mask prior to helping anyone else around you put on theirs. There is a very important reason this instruction is given. 

This is because if you fail to get enough oxygen into your own body, you can pass out, and you would not be in any position to save yourself, let alone others. 

We must take this approach to care for ourselves in our everyday life. If we do not get enough self-care, we will not be able to be good for ourselves or anyone else. 

Here are three easy ways to help overcome mental fatigue:

Make sure you are getting enough sleep

First and foremost is making sure you are getting enough sleep. It has come to light that lack of sleep can mimic depression. Sleep is the foundation of our mental well-being. 

It is so easy with tech, entertainment, and all the other things that can keep us up at night, but if we fail to get enough sleep, our entire next day will be affected. Sleep is the foundation of strong mental health and the key to fighting mental fatigue.

If you do not have a strong sleep schedule, you can start improving your sleep habits now by doing things like going to bed at the same time every night. 

Also, try setting an alarm to wake up at the same time every morning. Taking tech out of your room before bed and not being on tech for at least 30 minutes before bedtime can also help improve sleep habits.

Related: 14 Proven Tips to Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Better

Make sure to sustain a natural level of energy to engage in life

Secondly, what we put into our bodies is the next key to overcoming mental fatigue. What we fuel our bodies also fuels our mindsmoodsemotions, and abilities

If we are only putting in junk food, we will not be able to sustain a natural level of energy to engage in life and meet the demands of our everyday routine requests of us. 

This is not to say you have to eat healthy every meal, but there are healthy foods, and then there are “sometimes foods.” Most of what we take into our bodies should be healthy, but sometimes we can indulge in the “sometimes foods” as a treat.

If you are looking for ways to improve your eating habits gradually, try not eating after 8 pm and increase the number of fruits and veggies you eat

Craving something sweet? Grab an orange or banana instead of a sugary treat. Finding yourself drinking a lot of soda or juice during the day? Try preparing water with lemon or drinking iced sparkling water.

Make sure to have a support system around you

Lastly, having support in our life is the third key to overcoming mental fatigue. If you already have a support system around you — that is fantastic! If you do not, don’t get discouraged, there is always time to get engaged. 

Having support gives us comfort and hope and builds our resiliency against things like depression, anxiety, or even a bad day. Part of having support around you is making sure to be authentic and, at (appropriate times) show vulnerability. 

As Brene Brown says, being vulnerable with those who have earned that trust from you helps build connections. In connection, we are strengthened.

Try going outside of your comfort zone

If you are looking for additional ways to find and create connections with those around you, try going outside of your comfort zone and attending a community event or asking an acquaintance out for coffee to get to know them better. 

Sometimes we have to make the first move. Be brave and courageous — you’ve got this!

Lydia Angelica Antonatos, LMHC

Lydia Angelica Antonatos

Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Choosing Therapy

Being mentally exhausted can make you feel moody and unmotivated, affecting your sleep and overall well-being. 

Mental fatigue can have short and long-term effects, eventually taking a toll on your mental and emotional well-being and leading to burnout, chronic stress, anxiety, health problems, and other serious issues. 

Balance your time

Start paying attention to how your time is spent by taking a step back and rethinking your work-life balance. Chances are you may be overspending your time in one particular area, probably work. 

As such, try balancing your energy among all the different aspects that comprise your life, such as familyworkfriendsself-carehealthfun activities, and so forth. 

Balancing the right amount of time between these elements can lessen your mental fatigue and prevent the negative effects associated with it.

Related: How to Live a Balanced Life? What Does it Really Mean?

Have a healthy daily routine

Just like time life-work balance, building/establishing a healthy daily routine is just as crucial in helping you deal with mental fatigue. 

Having a daily regimen can strengthen your inner reserves, which is what makes you more resilient and adept at dealing with life problems. Think of this as your foundation

This healthy regimen should incorporate sleep hygiene habits for adequate sleep, getting proper nutrition, engaging in regular physical movement, and proper stress management practices. 

Take preventive measures

Taking preventive measures to lessen mental fatigue should also include things you can do in the moment or things you can plan ahead (either at work or school). 

For example:

  • Taking breaks throughout your workday.
  • Knowing your limits.
  • Setting boundaries with co-workers/boss/professors before taking on new projects or if you’re feeling overworked.
  • Identifying tasks that you can delegate.
  • Take time off or vacation days whether you have something planned or not.

Monitor your stress levels throughout the day

Additionally, monitor your stress levels throughout the day and be intentional about introducing moments of calmness through meditation, mindfulness, breathing exercises, etc. 

Conscientiously taking these steps can help you overcome mental fatigue by clearing up the mental fog and improving your mood.

Garry Spink Jr., PhD

Garry Spink

Licensed Psychologist, Spink Psychology

First, I think it is essential to discuss what fatigue is. Your body and brain do not distinguish between mental and physical fatigue. That is a distinction that we make as a people, which is not supported in psychology and neuroscience. 

I would discourage you from framing the article in that light (i.e., “mental fatigue”) to perpetuate a false distinction. Fatigue is a warning signal from our body and brain that we are running low on resources. 

That is where the idea of spoon theory came from; however, spoon theory is an over-simplification of a complex process because: 

  1. It does not account for our ability to add resources (e.g., energy).
  2. Our brains learn about how we use and conserve resources, so the point at which we experience fatigue can change over the course of our lifetimes. Managing fatigue requires us to know both of these points to cope effectively.  

This will look different for each person; however, there are some tendencies to what tends to work for people. 

Interact socially

First, social interactions tend to reduce fatigue as it causes the release of many molecules (e.g., dopamine), which full attention and release of energy throughout the body. 

Do physical activities

Similarly, physical activities help both in the short term and long term. In the short-term, it causes similar releases as social interactions; in the long-term, it helps your body more efficiently use energy.  

Do stress management techniques

Stress also exacerbates fatigue, as one of the biological processes involved in stress (fight-flight-freeze response/sympathetic nervous system activation) readies the body to take physical action. 

However, the response tends to deplete the body of resources. If this response is repeatedly activated or activated for a prolonged time, it leads to physiological changes in our body (i.e., allostasis, allostatic load), which impacts fatigue. 

Thus, appropriate stress management is helpful, and many tools exist for this, including: 

  • Belly breathing
  • Progressive/passive muscle relaxation
  • Guided imagery

How to cope at the moment: Create preventative and acute plans

For the preventative plan, I have them include activities such as exercise, mindfulnesspsychological interventions (e.g., changing any problematic beliefs about fatigue), and some form of exposure therapy

I also have them create and write down an acute plan of activities that they find helpful with fatigue. I have them write it down because it can be difficult to remember the strategies when they experience fatigue, mainly if it is extreme. 

The acute plan includes activities such as social interactions, as well as personalizing activities they find to replenish their resources (e.g., playing video games, going for a walk, etc.). 

They keep the list in a convenient, easy-to-remember location and refer to it as needed to help them manage their fatigue.

Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D.

Elizabeth Lombardo

Clinical Psychologist and Speaker | Author, “Get Out of the Red Zone

Take a break to asses everything you’re confronted with

Mental fatigue often follows overwhelm. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by problems and concerns, take a break to asses everything you’re confronted with and classify them into two categories: the controllable and the uncontrollable

Worrying over things you have no control over will only add stress to your brain without any hope of resolution since you can only do so much. 

Related: How to Stop Worrying about Everything

Recognize that fact and move on

Focus on what you can control. By doing this, you’re clearing your head of unnecessary clutter and baggage so it can focus on resolving problems that it is capable of resolving. 

Take steps to beat procrastination

Once you do that, take steps to beat procrastination. People often get overwhelmed because they put off things indefinitely until they stack upon each other to the point of becoming unbearable. 

Procrastination often follows if the task is overly complicated or takes a long time to accomplish. 

Related: How to Avoid Procrastination and Laziness

Divide the large task into many mini-tasks

You can work your way around this by dividing the large task into many mini-tasks that you can do one by one. This will lessen the overwhelming feeling by giving you an instant win each time you complete a chunk. 

The more chunks you complete, the more you will be motivated to finish up the rest of it because you’ll realize you’re getting nearer to your goal. 

Take a break from all the noise and give yourself time

Lastly, take a break from all the noise and give yourself time. While it may seem at first that you’re taking even more time out of your hands, it actually helps you clear your head so you can deal with the challenges in front of you with a more positive outlook. 

Chris Tompkins

Chris Tompkins

Associate Therapist, Theara

Mental fatigue can be exhaustingfrustrating, and debilitating. While many of us will experience moments of mental tiredness, when this is sustained over a long period, it can be challenging to imagine an improvement. 

However, there are things that can help a person overcome this.

Understand the underlying issues 

Mental fatigue is often triggered by stress. Understanding the underlying issues which are causing this is important. Work, family, and money are all common sources of stress, as well as uncertainty. Whatever is at the root of this stress, identifying this is essential.

Reduce the stressors and find ways to deal with them

Once you have recognized what is causing stress, you can work to reduce or eliminate the stressors and find ways to deal with them. 

In the short term, this can increase emotional and mental demands, but in the long term, by reducing stress, you create space for rest and restore mental well-being.

Make choices that facilitate work/life balance

Mental fatigue can occur as a result of being overworked and overwhelmed. By making choices that facilitate work/life balance, it’s possible to alleviate this. Many people manage multiple commitments, caring for others, working, and studying. 

Finding a way to manage priorities and take time for yourself is a must to avoid burnout.

Implement healthy boundaries

Implementing healthy boundaries is one of the best ways to safeguard mental energy. This can look like saying “no” more frequently, turning your phone off, and taking regular breaks. Boundaries will also enable you to prioritize time for self-care. 

Have a self-compassionate approach

It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we’re struggling, but a self-compassionate approach will boost resilience and aid recovery. Be kind to yourself; you’re doing the best you can. 

Simone Koger

Simone Koger

Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Associate | Grief Counselor | Owner, Koger Counseling PLLC

Balance life in sufficient ways

Generally, a lot of burnout happens when we are not balancing life in sufficient ways. Reflecting on your self-care and how actively you are supporting your own needs can help decrease mental fatigue. 

For example, self-care is not just the face masks, bubble baths, and days on the couch (it can be), but it is also about: 

  • Setting boundaries.
  • Making appointments, you have been putting off.
  • Taking space to validate your experiences. 

Start small by setting boundaries

If you are overworking, start small — set a boundary to take a lunch break, or maybe turn off your work phone after a particular time of night. Being intentional about your self-support helps your relationship with yourself get stronger, which has led to more quality output. 

Have enough sleep

Several studies show that lack of sleep, especially REM sleep, can cause a slew of different unhelpful mental health symptoms. 

If you don’t get enough “good sleep,” you can experience fatigue because your brain needs time to process your day and build new neural pathways — but it cannot do so without sleep. 

Take time to do a 20-minute walk outside

Many people work remote jobs or are inside an office all day. Taking time even to do a 20-minute walk outside can decrease symptoms of anxiousness, depression, and stress

If you start to feel you have hit a wall in your work for the day, take a break to walk around. Let your mind process what you are working on, and you might find new creative answers to your project. 

Rachel Davidson, MA, LPC-A

Rachel Davidson

Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, Malaty Therapy

Mental fatigue is an issue that most of us face at one time or another throughout our education and careers. 

We experience mental fatigue when we become overwhelmed with our thoughts and the things we have to do in our daily lives and work. 

Mental fatigue can prevent us from thinking logically and from being present in the current moment. This makes it difficult for us to have meaningful relationships and make the best decisions possible.

Be mindful

One of the best ways to overcome mental fatigue is through mindfulness. Mindfulness is the concept of being present in the moment, living in the now rather than the past or future. 

Related: How to Let Go of the Past and Move On

When we experience mental fatigue, our thoughts are often focused on what could happen in the future or what has already happened. 

When we practice mindfulness, we focus on the fact that what we are experiencing at any given moment is the present. We cannot do anything about the past or the future; all we can do is make the most of where we are now

This practice can involve awareness of our breath and our five senses. Being present helps ground us and gives us perspective. These sensations work against the overwhelming feeling that often accompanies mental fatigue.

Practice self-care

Another way to overcome mental fatigue is through self-care. Self-care is a lot more than just giving ourselves a manicure or getting a massage. Self-care encompasses the physicalemotionalsocial, and spiritual aspects of one’s life. 

You can practice physical self-care by ensuring that you get adequate sleep and eat nutritious meals. 

Emotional self-care includes allowing ourselves to experience and express our feelings. Going to therapy is a great way to practice emotional self-care. 

Social self-care is vital for those experiencing mental fatigue. This is when we often find ourselves wanting to isolate ourselves from others. 

However, surrounding yourself with a strong support system of friends and family can be incredibly helpful in helping you overcome mental fatigue. 

Spiritual self-care can be helpful for those who are religiously devout. 

Taking care of yourself spiritually could be done through:

  • Prayer
  • Practicing yoga 
  • Meditating
  • Spending time in nature 

However you choose to practice self-care, it is crucial to recognize that a multifaceted approach to caring for oneself is most beneficial for those trying to overcome mental fatigue, as well as those looking to maintain balance in their lives. 

Mental fatigue is a common and discouraging issue, but with attention to self-care and mindfulness practices, you can overcome it and live your best life in the present moment. 

Dr. Harold Hong, MD

Harold Hong

Board-certified Psychiatrist, New Waters Recovery

Mental exhaustion can be incredibly debilitating. It can zap your energy, leaving you irritableanxious, and unable to concentrate. If you’re struggling with mental fatigue, you can do a few things to help yourself feel better.

Understand what’s causing your mental fatigue

The first step is to understand what’s causing your mental fatigue. It could be anything from work stress to relationship problems. Once you know the cause, work on eliminating the stressor or stressors causing your mental fatigue. 

Remove yourself from the situation or take a break

If possible, remove yourself from the situation or take a break. So if work is causing you stress, try taking a vacation or working fewer hours. If you can’t eliminate the stressor, find healthy coping mechanisms to deal with it. 

For example, make sure you’re taking breaks during the day and not working too late into the night. And always schedule time for yourself every day and use that time doing something you enjoy, such as going for a walk or listening to music.

Have a regular sleep routine

A regular sleep routine of at least seven to eight hours can also help your body and mind feel rested and refreshed. When you’re well-rested, you are better able to handle stress because sleep improves your moodconcentration, and cognitive functions

Hence, push yourself to get a good night’s sleep every day, even if it means going to bed earlier than usual.

Limit your screen time by following the 20-20-20 rule

In some cases, excessive use of digital devices causes screen burnout. The main reason is the blue light that comes from screens, which can disrupt the body’s melatonin production. This, in turn, affects your body’s natural sleep rhythm. 

Accordingly, excessive screen time can cause high cortisol levels, reduced energy levels, increased anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. 

To combat this, limit your screen time by following the 20-20-20 rule. It states that every 20 minutes you spend looking at a screen, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away. 

This will help reduce the strain on your eyes. Then, make a conscious effort to put your phone away during social gatherings, at work, and before bed. This will help you feel more present and focused.

Casondra Burkley, LCSW-S, M.Div

Casondra Burkley

Licensed Clinical Social Worker | International Speaker, More Than Cope

How to be “S.A.F.E.”

Mental fatigue is very common, especially when you are exposed to constant life stressors. 

Whether it be job stressrelationship stressfamily stressfinancial stress, or any other matter, consistent exposure to any stressor will deplete you mentally. 

Sometimes we do not realize even positive things that can cause mental fatigue. Things we would commonly celebrate, like having a babybuying a new house, or starting a new job, can sometimes produce more stress than unforeseen circumstances. 

As a therapist and personally, I have found that the below will help anyone overcome mental fatigue. Be S.A.F.E.

Set boundaries

Get comfortable with using the words; nonot nowthat doesn’t work for meI would rather not, just to name a few. We must get comfortable prioritizing our needs and not punish ourselves because our needs may disappoint someone else.

Assess your environment

Assess who is taking up space in your life. Don’t give people your energy, time, or space that don’t deserve it.

Focus on you 

Create a self-care schedule in which the only priorities are you and your physical, emotionalsocial, and spiritual needs.

Explore support options

If you see that you have tried the above and the mental fatigue is not getting any better, seek help from a mental health professional. 

Francine Waskavitz, M.S., SLP, IHNC

Francine Waskavitz

The Memory Health Coach

Exit autopilot mode

When mental fatigue settles in, it can feel like you’re watching your life unfold in front of you. If you want to break free and feel focused again, consider a vacation from your routine

Predictable daily routines can lead you to live your life on autopilot. To wake up your brain, you need to give yourself something new to pay attention to. Pick something meaningfulsurprisingfun, or significant

Consider what your day or week typically looks like and ask yourself where you can implement a change. 

Breaking up your routine can combat mental fatigue by providing your mind with opportunities to explore new ideas, experiment with novel activities, and problem-solve different scenarios.

Aim to add a small change to your week

To begin, aim to add a small change to your week. Try a new route to work or do your typical morning routine backward. Give your mind a reason to turn on, wake up and consciously pay attention. 

Give yourself something to look forward to

Once you’ve begun to experiment with breaking up the mundane, step it up a notch by adding something novel or exciting to your schedule. 

Give yourself something to look forward to: 

  • Go out to lunch on a day you would typically eat in.
  • Take your exercise routine outside.
  • Make plans to meet up with a friend.

Add socialization to your routine

Mental fatigue is exhausting, especially if you’re suffering in silence. Socialization can breathe new life into your routines and provide you with a mental release through talkinglaughing, and enjoying someone else’s company.

The changes you decide to make to your schedule matter less than the mental energy you’re able to dedicate to these new experiences. Whatever you choose, be fully present and engaged, even if it’s only for a short time.

It takes practice to exit autopilot, and it’s totally worth the effort to reclaim your mental energy.

Assess the root cause of your mental fatigue 

First, assess what the root cause of your mental fatigue is. Sometimes fatigue is not from exhaustion from overexertion of work but from an under-exertion of inspiration and motivation. 

Check in with yourself and ask yourself: 

  • Do I feel inspired in my daily life? 
  • Is the work I am doing feeding my purpose? 
  • Do I move with a sense of direction?

Consider if you need to connect with a mental health professional

Second, in the midst of the multitude of Pandemics we are experiencing (health, social, political, economic), mental fatigue can be easily passed over as just a common fad that will soon pass. But sometimes, mental fatigue can be a sign of a deeper underlying problem. 

A recommendation is to consider if you need to connect with a mental health professional. Therapy can be a powerful tool to have mirrored for us the things that are feeding our souls and those things that are no longer serving us. 

Interrogate the company surrounding you

Third, interrogate the company surrounding you. I was once told that all boats rise on the same tide — that statement is just as true with relationships. Those who inspire, motivate, and encourage us are the same ones who keep our mental tanks filled. 

Conversely, those who bring us down, who do not speak to our greater good, and who do not serve as points of inspiration can drain us and, at times, be the source of our mental fatigue.

Dr. Bryan Bruno

Bryan Bruno

Founder and Medical Director, Mid City TMS

Mental fatigue is incredibly common these days because people are working harder than ever and don’t have a work/life balance.

Working too hard and giving all your energy to your friends, family, and relationships can leave you burnt out with nothing left for yourself. 

Mental fatigue is not limited to but can be caused by the following: 

  • Work
  • Family stress 
  • Time-consuming commitments 
  • Emotional stress 

To overcome mental fatigue, there are a few things you can do. 

Create a work/life balance

Work can often consume your life and eat into any time you set aside for yourself. If you are not on the clock, don’t let work seep into your conversations and thoughts. 

Fill your time off with activities that make you happy such as: 

  • Going for a walk
  • Painting
  • Spending time with friends

Clean up your space and create a to-do list

A cluttered space can often cause more stress on you than you realize. Take the time to clean up your area and create a to-do list of things you’d like to accomplish for the day or days ahead. 

When creating a to-do list, make sure the list is achievable. Try setting three primary goals for yourself. 

Learn to say “no”

If time-consuming commitments are causing you stress and creating mental fatigue, say no. You don’t have to say yes to every commitment, and taking some time for yourself will leave you better off for the next gathering or event. 

Many of the symptoms of mental fatigue align with depression. If you find that you have felt mentally fatigued for months, talk to a medical professional, as you may be suffering from depression. 

Mike Cundall

Mike Cundall

Associate Professor of Philosophy | Founder, Mirth Management | Author, The Humor Hack

Engage with humor and have a good laugh  

When I tell folks about humor and its benefits, I have two stories I use to show how helpful humor can be in getting us out of a funk. 

Whether we’re exhaustedstressed, or anxious, humor is often the best antidote to those feelings. It’s also supremely helpful in preparing us for the next steps.

The first story I tell comes from an experience at the gym. I was at the tail end of my workout and into my last set of whatever exercise I was doing ⁠— I think it was a bench press. I was tired, panting, and dreading doing these last reps. 

All I wanted to do was stop, and no amount of self-coaching (“It’s only 12 more reps; you’re almost there!”) was helping. 

I don’t know how it happened, but something funny happened as I was sitting on the bench dreading the next set that got me laughing. 

I didn’t laugh for long, but as soon as I had stopped (and it was a pretty good laugh), I dropped into that set and did those reps as if I hadn’t done anything at all. That last set was probably the best I had done ⁠— good form, rhythm, etc. 

Related: The Healing Power of Laughter

When I was finished, I felt great. I wasn’t huffing or ready to fall on the floor. I literally felt awesome. That laugh totally changed my emotional state. I went from exhaustedfatigued, and dreading the work to finished and happy. Such is the power of a good laugh.

The other story I use comes from the following short video. I ask the audience to imagine being one of the workers whose job is cleaning up such messes. 

YouTube video

Imagine sitting on that porch watching those garbage cans roll on by, the mess that means that absolute pain in the rear will be to have to clean them up and get the cans back to the right folks. 

Daunting isn’t quite right. Now imagine your coworker, who’s watching the same thing happen, who’s going to be right in the thick of it with you, just starts laughing at the ridiculousness of it. 

However daunting that task would be that my buddy’s laugh would make it all the less worse. 

Sharing not just the laughter with them but also the later work is powerful in helping us overcome the stress and fatigue that only focuses on the negative. 

Humor is unique in our emotions in that it can and does interrupt how we feel, and while the interruption is small, the resulting good feeling overwhelms the bad and makes our life better. 

There’s plenty of evidence out there showing how helpful humor can be. These stories exemplify it. Now get out there and start laughing.

Dr. Suzanna Wong, DC

Suzanna Wong

Chiropractor and Co-Founder, Twin Waves Wellness Center

Stay organized  

Try and avoid things that don’t need to be done. This helps you to keep your perspective on what you need to work on without letting things mount up and get on top of you.

Be realistic about what you can do 

That way, you stand less chance of procrastinating or becoming overwhelmed.

Set aside time for yourself

Whether that is stopping working, turning off social media and going for a walk, or going to have a massage, this is one of the most important things that you can do.

Take frequent breaks  

Set a time and make sure you stick to the breaks you have. It can make things seem more achievable and help you get the tasks that need doing — while allowing you time to breathe.

Start the day with gratitude or meditation 

It might not be for everyone, but thinking of three things you are grateful for as soon as you get up can help change your mindset and give you a more positive start to the day when everything else might be getting you down.

Related: What are the Benefits of Positive Thinking?

Christine Kingsley

Christine Kingsley

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), Lung Institute

Take breaks outside 

Natural sunlight and fresh air are our mental health’s greatest allies. They offer crucial vitamins that help boost mood by stimulating the release of calming and focus-inducing hormones, serotonin. 

This counters the negative cognitive effects of mental exhaustion, such as brain fog and overwhelmedness

Since exposure to sunlight warrants the need to go outside, this practice also encourages physical activity, which lowers stress levels and increases blood circulation, leaving you with a stronger, lighter, and more energized feeling.

Cut back on screen time 

Overstimulation from our digital screens is one of the major catalysts for most people’s mental fatigue. 

Too much time spent browsing the internet not only leaves us mentally overwhelmed by and drowning in excessive digital information but also leaves us constantly stressed due to cramming and rushing our daily tasks. 

Not to mention, it exposes us to too much blue light, which is responsible for disrupting our sleep systems, ultimately resulting in emotional imbalances. 

Doing a digital detox every now and then will help put us back in control of our time, mind, and sleep, thereby improving our overall well-being.

Jeffrey McQueen, MBA, LCDC

Jeffrey McQueen

Executive Director, Mental Health Association of Nassau County

Be adventurous and start pursuing things on your bucket list

Mental fatigue is common among most people. Simple day-to-day activities such as work, children, home responsibilities, bills, and meeting the demands of others are often reasons we all feel tired. 

It’s the process of configuring ways to manage these daily activities that bring fatigue to our minds:

  • Spending countless hours doing one thing while trying to figure out how to manage another.
  • Spending mental time remembering things of our past and considering possible stressors that may arise in our future. 

All of these things will drain your mental state of being and rob you of the benefits of the joy presently in your life today.

Many ways to reduce mental fatigue don’t require anything more than:

  • Eliminating the things that create stress in your life.
  • Leaving work at work and home at home. Developing a work-life-balance.
  • Uncluttering the space around you and developing a system that organizes your space which also organizes and unclutters your mind.
  • Create a time and space for your life — schedule time for you and your family. But particularly for yourself.
  • Sunlight and fresh air are a must. Take walks, listen to your favorite music and let the sun kiss your skin.
  • Be adventurous and start pursuing things on your bucket list. This will bring accomplishment and satisfaction to your life.
  • Disconnect from the world. Take the time to turn off your phone and computers, and even the TV. Read a book or possibly just enjoy the space of nothingness.
  • Also, life is like a puzzle. Sometimes you need to look away from it to refresh your outlook and find that missing piece. So take time to step away from your day-to-day so you can refresh, reset and revitalize.

Just remember that mental fatigue comes naturally, and the more you fill up your life, the more you risk becoming mentally tired. Take deep breaths and remember it’s natural. Schedule time in your day to reset and recharge. You got this!

Tom O’Leary

Tom O’Leary

Coach & Educator

Find something that is “good for nothing” 

There is a current tendency to assume that the best solution to a problem or issue is to do something. At times, and mental fatigue can be one such case, the best thing might be doing nothing. 

By nothing, I mean nothing typically considered “productive.” Stepping away from the to-do list to just “be” at times can be hugely beneficial. 

You can do this anywhere, but I’ve always found that just being in nature, for no reason other than being in nature, is truly restful. As the Irish poet John O’Donohue used to say, “this gives the soul time to catch up.”

Reflect on your invisible workload

Beyond this, reflecting on your invisible workload is critical. This is basically what doesn’t get on your to-do list but still represents a significant mental burden each and every day. 

This consists of the thought patterns that interrupt and distract you, the people, objects, and environments you interact with, and the countless micro tasks these generate. 

So asking yourself, “What is tiring me out?” can be a great start. There may be people or places that no longer nourish you, and for many of us, our mobile phones are a source of real fatigue. 

Their always-on nature is exhausting. I did a 3-day digital detox this summer, and it was truly refreshing.

Rick Nehora

Rick Nehora

Managing Partner, California Law Firm

Even if a person is actively engaged in their chosen line of work, mental fatigue can sap their motivation to keep up the good work. 

The effects of mental fatigue can be felt not only in one’s mental health but also in one’s physical health. Mental fatigue opens the door for related issues like burnoutanxietystress, etc. 

Be cautious and act promptly

However, it is possible to avoid mental fatigue by being cautious and acting promptly. Several methods to prevent dangerous mental fatigue have been scientifically proven to work. 

Some of them are:

Set your priorities

Setting priorities is essential. To determine their priority in the order of succession, arrange daily tasks in an understandable order. Target the items on the list that are too important to put off finishing and leave the others as options. 

This is a great way to organize your schedule, free up time for important tasks, and get rid of unnecessary stress-inducing activities. 

Understand the significance of microbreaks

You can prevent being overly worn out by taking brief breaks frequently throughout the day. Recognize how these breaks help you feel more energized. 

These breaks, similar to power naps, will keep you from getting too worn out from doing tedious work nonstop. Micro-breaks have been shown to help with mental fatigue and can range from a brief coffee break to a 30-minute stroll. 

Inhale, exhale and meditate

Breathe in, breathe out, and focus on your breathing. Severe mental fatigue is not always a result of work. It may be a result of traumatic relationships, issues with the family, or even sharp ups and downs in one’s personal life. 

Even though we have no control over how our lives will turn out, a positive strategy of calmly meditating while singing solves most issues, to identify the stressor and eliminate it from life; the key is to reflect and introspect.

Sai Blackbyrn

Sai Blackbyrn

CEO, CoachFoundation

Focus your efforts on worthwhile pursuits

Don’t allow your brainpower to go to waste if you want to get the most out of it. The mind loses its edge when it isn’t consistently challenged or engaged, like a car left outside to rust and degrade. Being disengaged makes it simpler for mental tiredness to set in. 

You can strengthen your mind by undertaking high-value activities like:

  • Reading books (rather than Facebook).
  • Picking up a new skill.
  • Engaging in hobbies and things that make you feel good. 

Find things to do and people to interact with that will enhance your life quality. Of course, there are appropriate times and places to switch off your brain and binge-watch Netflix. 

However, your psychological state is less likely to deteriorate when your brain is constantly preoccupied with activities you find rewarding or with people you appreciate.

Consume healthy meals

Even if this is rather clear, it must be said. In order to be healthy and perform at your best, nutrition is crucial. Simply stated, feeling good comes from consuming healthy meals. You’ll feel bad after consuming unhealthy stuff. 

Such as:

  • Refined sweets and highly processed meals should be eliminated from your diet if you wish to maintain mental performance at its highest level. 
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Eat primarily proteins, and choose your snacks carefully. 
  • Instead of chips or candy bars, opt for fruits, whole grains, nuts (like almonds), and nuts
  • Drink a lot of water as well. Dehydration affects your capacity for thought, reasoning, and information processing, in addition to its potential to cause headaches. Additionally, staying hydrated helps you stay alert and prevents weariness.

Eliminate distractions

Eliminating distractions may be the simplest method of combating mental fatigue—also the most challenging to master. 

After all, squandering time is a contemporary activity with so many internet temptations to divert attention from what is actually important:

  • Internet browsing
  • Facebook scrolling
  • YouTube watching 
  • Pinterest browsing 
  • Spotify playlist creation
  • Playing a variety of addictive mobile games, and on it goes 

But our brains are also overloaded by all of this visual bombardment. Stress might increase when we participate in more time-wasting activities. 

Use freedom to restrict the websites and programs that will overwork and distract your brain. Make a morning session that runs automatically so that you spend time doing deep work rather than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

Sasha Quail

Sasha Quail

Business Development Manager, Claims UK

Plan your day to accommodate your changing energy levels

Understanding how mental energy levels fluctuate is one of the crucial steps to eliminating mental weariness. You cope with peaks and valleys of energy throughout the day, even when you’re well-rested. Each person does. 

There are times when your energy is high and times when it is low. “Ultradian rhythms” are the names given to these up-and-down cycles, so each cycle lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. 

The flow and ebb of human energy throughout the day can be explained in part by these ultradian cycles. 

During the first phase of the cycle, physiological parameters, including heart ratehormone levelsmuscle tension, as well as a brain-wave activity, all rise, as does awareness. These measurements begin to fall after about an hour. 

The body starts to yearn for an extended period of rest and recuperation between 90 to 120 minutes.

Your peak energy cycles last 90 to 120 minutes, and during the 20-minute “troughs” in between, you are most productive.

Discover when natural peaks and valleys occur and plan your day’s tasks around them to take advantage of the body’s natural rhythms. Keep a diary of your energy state hourly for a few weeks to learn the ultradian rhythms. 

This can help you get a solid sense of when you have the most energy and when you require to take pauses. As an alternative, you can determine your ultradian rhythms with the aid of the Rise sleep app. 

Plan your day so that you complete your most critical things while you are at your most energetic. 

Answer emails, read reports or bookmark articles, or complete low-priority chores that don’t require much mental effort when your strength levels are low.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does Mental Fatigue Feel Like?  

Mental fatigue refers to a state of reduced mental energy and motivation caused by prolonged cognitive demand or stress. Here are the common symptoms of mental fatigue:

Lack of energy: Mental fatigue often leaves a person tired and drained, leading to a lack of motivation and interest in activities they once enjoyed.

Decreased attention and focus: Mental fatigue can make it difficult to concentrate, leading to decreased attention span and making it challenging to complete tasks effectively.

Impaired memory: Mental fatigue can also result in memory lapses, forgetfulness, and an inability to recall information.

Slow processing speed: People experiencing mental fatigue may find it takes longer to process information and make decisions, leading to decreased productivity.

Emotional exhaustion: Mental fatigue can also lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and frustration, further exacerbating the symptoms of fatigue.

Poor decision-making: Mental fatigue can impact a person’s ability to make sound decisions, as it becomes more challenging to think critically and weigh the pros and cons of various options.

What Causes Mental Fatigue?  

Overworking and exhaustion: Prolonged mental exertion can lead to mental fatigue, especially if the task is complex and demanding.

Sleep deprivation: Lack of sleep can lead to mental fatigue and decreased cognitive function.

Stress and anxiety: Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to mental fatigue, decreased motivation, and impaired cognitive function.

Depression: Depression is a mental health disorder that is often associated with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and decreased motivation, which can lead to mental fatigue.

Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as anemia, thyroid disorders, and chronic fatigue syndrome, can also lead to mental fatigue.

Substance abuse: Substance abuse, particularly drugs like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, can lead to decreased cognitive function and mental fatigue.

Does Mental Fatigue Make You Sleepy?   

Yes, mental fatigue can make you feel sleepy. Mental fatigue occurs when your brain is exhausted from extended periods of mental work or lack of stimulation, leading to decreased cognitive performance and increased feelings of sleepiness.

Several factors contribute to mental fatigue, such as stress, lack of sleep, and poor diet. When your brain is overworked, it requires more energy to function, leading to increased feelings of exhaustion and sleepiness.

Additionally, mental fatigue can affect your circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that regulates your sleep and wakefulness patterns. When you are mentally exhausted, your body may produce more melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, causing you to feel drowsy and in need of rest.

What Habits Can Damage Your Brain?  

Substance abuse: Regular and excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco can have a significant impact on brain health, leading to memory loss, brain shrinkage, and a decline in cognitive function.

Lack of sleep: Consistently not getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep can affect the brain’s ability to process information, make decisions, and remember things.

Poor nutrition: A diet that is lacking in essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can increase the risk of brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and stroke.

Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle: Physical inactivity and prolonged sitting can lead to a decline in brain function and increase the risk of developing conditions like depression and anxiety.

Chronic stress: Prolonged exposure to stress can have a significant impact on brain health, leading to memory loss, anxiety, and depression.

Social isolation: Lack of social interaction and loneliness can increase the risk of developing cognitive decline and mental health problems.

Excessive screen time: Spending too much time in front of screens, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, can affect brain health and lead to issues such as sleep disturbance and eye strain.

How Do You Rest Your Brain?  

Resting your brain is important for improving focus, memory, and overall cognitive function. Here are some expert tips for relaxing your brain:

Get plenty of sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Sleep allows your brain to consolidate memories and recharge for the next day.

Exercise regularly: Exercise improves blood flow to the brain and helps reduce stress. Physical activity also promotes the growth of new brain cells and neural connections.

Meditate or practice mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness help to calm your mind and reduce stress. They can also increase feelings of happiness and well-being.

Limit screen time: Excessive use of screens can lead to eye strain, headaches, and disrupted sleep patterns. Limit your screen time, especially before bedtime.

Take breaks: Regular breaks throughout the day can help you recharge and refocus. Take a walk, stretch, or close your eyes and breathe deeply.

Engage in activities you enjoy: Doing things you find enjoyable and relaxing, such as reading, drawing, or gardening, can help to take your mind off of stress and promote rest for the brain.

Avoid multitasking: Doing too many things at once can lead to mental exhaustion and decreased productivity. Focus on one task at a time and give your full attention to each task.

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