When most of us get tired, we recognize that our body is telling us it’s time to rest and respond accordingly. However, for some reason, when people are feeling mentally tired, they’re often more likely to ignore the signs and keep trying to push through without giving their minds the rest that they need.
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As a result, people who are suffering from mental fatigue may find they’re overly irritable, realize they’re becoming forgetful and even make mistakes that could cost them their jobs.
Even if you’re not currently feeling mentally fatigued, there’s a good chance you have before and will fall victim to the symptoms again if you’re not careful. Keep reading to learn about five things that indicate you’re either edging dangerously close to becoming mentally fatigued or are already right in the midst of the effects of mental fatigue.
1. You Never Have Time For Yourself
We live in a very fast-paced world, a place where people are expected to be on the go almost all the time. In many cases, if they’re not constantly busy, people wonder if something’s wrong with their lifestyles and frequently start comparing themselves to their busier peers. However, staying too busy can cause you to feel overly stressed, which can soon lead to intense feelings of being overwhelmed.
Take a look at your calendar and see how long it’s been since you did an activity that was solely for yourself and not something you only took part in because it was for work or you felt otherwise obligated. If things have become really bad, you may not even be able to remember how long it’s been since you’ve taken any time for yourself.
Whether you go for a walk, play music or call a friend for a casual chat, these are all examples of things you might do before the pressure of mental fatigue seems too much. As soon as you take time out that’s just for you, your brain can start to recharge.
Because your brain controls your whole body, you must be especially aware of how mental fatigue affects you and realize there’s no harm in taking some “me time.” In fact, by doing so, you may feel better than you’ve felt in months or even longer.
2. Friends Have Expressed Their Concerns
It’s sometimes difficult for us to recognize the signs of mental fatigue within ourselves because they happen gradually. Over time, before we even know what’s happening, these symptoms become our new normal. However, since friends have outside perspectives, and are often around you more than others, they’ll likely be among the first to spot that something’s amiss with your mental state.
If several friends have come to you and have said they’re concerned because they notice that your mental acuity has become worse over time or something similar, take those voiced opinions to heart.
More often than not, friends are simply saying those things because they genuinely care about you. They don’t want to judge you and say that if you would have been more careful, you wouldn’t be dealing with mental fatigue at all. Rather, the people in your life who place value on your well-being just want to make you aware of the changes they’ve seen in you, so you have time to make amends.
3. You Suddenly Have Mental Blocks And They Happen Frequently
Everyone is forgetful from time to time. However, if you’re at a point where you’re experiencing mental fatigue, you’ll probably go beyond mere forgetfulness and have complete mental blocks. They could happen at any time and may be more likely to occur under periods of intense stress.
Even if you’ve spent all week preparing for an important presentation but are dealing with symptoms of mental fatigue, all the painstaking preparation you did could seem almost meaningless if you have a mental block at a time when it’s extremely important to remain clear-headed.
Be sure to pay attention to when your mental blocks happen, and take note if they are occurring with greater frequency as time goes by. You may want to keep a diary that lists how you’re feeling on the days that you’ve recorded such mental blocks.
Once you take time to really study the data, you’ll probably see that those frustrating blockages were just ways of indicating that you really need to slow down and give your brain a much-deserved break.
4. You’re Highly Emotional
Some people experience emotions very richly. For example, they might watch sad movies and end up bawling when they finish, whereas the majority of the population might merely get a little misty-eyed.
On the other hand, feeling emotions more strongly than most may mean that joy is experienced in extremely memorable ways, and people may feel such an abundance of joy that they truly feel on top of the world, albeit temporarily.
However, maybe you aren’t characteristically a person who experiences emotions at a very high level, but have noticed that’s recently changed. Being extremely emotional is another sign that you’re mentally fatigued.
You may also notice that it’s harder or impossible to keep the emotions you’re feeling properly regulated. Most of us are able to put dampers on our joy or sorrow so as to keep ourselves composed while in public.
During a period of mental fatigue, however, those self-imposed barriers may seem to have all but disappeared. When you’re suddenly unable to control the emotions that you’re feeling, it may become tempting to use substances such as alcohol or drugs to numb yourself.
However, taking that approach can be very dangerous and could even lead to addiction. If you notice you’re falling into a pattern of poor coping mechanisms to deal with the rich emotions you feel, it’s time to get professional help.
5. Physical Symptoms
It’s also possible that you’ll develop physical ailments as a result of being mentally fatigued. You may get headaches, feel nauseous or lose your appetite, just to name a few. These kinds of mental fatigue signs can be particularly tricky. It makes sense that people who are feeling strange symptoms would start to look for physical causes to blame. They may not even consider that their mental health is what really needs to go under the microscope.
If you’re in doubt, it’s a good idea to visit your primary care physician and confess that you simply haven’t felt like yourself lately. That professional should do a complete physical exam, in addition to asking you some questions about your mental and emotional well-being in an effort to get a complete picture of your overall health.
Although these are not the only signs of mental fatigue you should know about, they are some of the most common ones that people go through. Be sure to stay aware of whether they’re happening within yourself, and look out for them being expressed in the people you love. Sometimes the easiest and most effective way to curtail mental fatigue is to recognize there’s a problem. After that, you can form actionable strategies for fixing the issue.