Give Your Brain a Break to Avoid Mental Exhaustion
If you’ve been feeling more than just a little bit sleepy these days, and are having trouble focusing, you might be experiencing a brief bout of mental fatigue, otherwise known as “brain fog” or mental exhaustion.
What is Mental Fatigue?
Mental fatigue is a cognitive dysfunction that can be brought on by the usual culprits such as stress, a lack of sleep, hormonal changes, medication side effects, trauma, and even a poor diet and lack of exercise. In addition to feeling like your head is in a fog, you might also experience things like headaches and body aches, upset stomach, insomnia, an increased number of colds and flus, and changes in your weight and appetite.
In addition, when you’re mentally fatigued, you can also become physically exhausted, which can lead to poor posture and eventual neck and back pain. We see it all the time at our chiropractic practice. For most people, mental fatigue is considered a temporary condition, but one that can have serious consequences if it’s not dealt with in a timely manner.
The condition of mental fatigue is common in today’s society, where we all seem to be working longer hours, staying up too late on our smartphones, or otherwise trying to balance commitments like raising a family, caring for an aging relative, or paying down debts. Such pressure to perform can cause us to feel overwhelmed and drained sometimes.
Overcoming mental fatigue involves more than just getting a good night’s sleep, but it can be done if you put your mind to it! Here are 4 tips for overcoming mental fatigue in your life.
1. Improve Your Diet
When it comes to low energy and mental fatigue, the top recommendation when it comes to diet is to reduce the foods you’re consuming that cause inflammation, such as processed meats, salty foods, sugars and sugary drinks. All of these things can lead to you feeling bloated and sluggish. If finding the time and inspiration to cook is a roadblock for you, try looking into a mail-order meal prep program, or getting healthy groceries delivered right to your door. This can free up more time for you to prepare healthy meals, and then get to bed sooner.
Another tip is to make sure you’re getting enough iron and B vitamins in your diet, and regulating your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Are you drinking enough water? Are you skipping too many meals? Like a lot of things, overcoming mental fatigue starts in the kitchen.
2. Be More Active
It’s no secret that getting more exercise is good for you! Sneaking more physical activity into your daily routine can boost your mental health as it releases all those feel-good neurotransmitters into the brain. Exercise also reduces overall inflammation and improves cardiovascular health. This can end up reducing your need for certain medications and lead to more stamina and better sleep.
There are many ways to boost your physical activity levels, including more morning or lunchtime walks or joining a fun class at your local gym or recreation centre. Start slow and don’t push yourself too hard right away. If you need support with a new exercise program, especially if you’re recovering from an injury, ask your chiropractor for recommended exercises and stretches. We are more than happy to suggest exercise routines for you.
3. Get More Sleep
We all want more sleep, and for some of us, getting more sleep is so much easier said than done. However, getting the right amount of sleep is what will lead you to being able to achieve all the other items on this list.
To get the best night’s sleep possible, avoid computer and phone screens for at least two hours before bedtime. Invest in the best mattress, pillows, bedding, and blackout curtains. Ensure there is adequate airflow in the room and that it’s not too hot or too cold. Wear ear plugs or a sleep mask if need be. Experiment with things like soft music or a white noise machine, and see if eliminating the snooze button has any positive effects on your sleep patterns.
Overcoming mental fatigue requires you to find ways to relax your mind throughout the day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, try meditating for 10 minutes every morning. The practice of meditation might take some getting used to but so many people find it to be an essential part of their day.
Additional ways to relax are anything that brings you joy, really, whether that’s reading, listening to audible books during your commute, painting model cars, tinkering in the shop, knitting, taking hot baths, doing puzzles, or listening to calming music. Adding things like aromatic diffusers and lower light levels can really help put you in a relaxed frame of mind.
Many experts say a mental detox begins with practicing mindfulness, which involves expressing gratitude, learning how to let things goes, and learning how to go easier on yourself. Avoid things that you know will stress you out, whether that be social media, the evening news, or crowded shopping malls.
Chiropractic Care for Mental Fatigue
If the items above all sound overwhelming to you right now, there might be an underlying physical problem that might need sorting out first. For example, you can be in physical pain and not even know it, especially if your mental fatigue has brought on some poor posture lately. A chiropractor can be a great place to start. To improve your mental fatigue, a chiropractor will combine hands-on chiropractic care to relieve physical pain, especially in the neck and back, with customized lifestyle and nutritional counselling to help you succeed long after your spinal adjustments and other chiropractic treatments are finished. The end result is relief in physical pain from the hands-on treatment, which often leads to less mental anguish once the pain is gone. Our clients can then get back to their favourite recreational activities and start concentrating on other aspects of their mental health.
Finally, if you are healing from a sustained injury and need help with your pain management and speeding up your recovery, adhering to the advice here is essential, as reduced stress levels and improved mental health are two of the quickest ways to improve pain and speed up recovery times.
Chiropractors treat people – not just their symptoms. We look at the overall health of each of our patients when creating them their own treatment plans. At Mind Body Spine, we see on a daily basis how mental health and physical health are intrinsically linked. Improving one almost always leads to an improvement in the other. For more tips on managing your stress levels and reducing your mental fatigue, come and see Dr. Stephanie Louie at Mind Body Spine in Victoria, BC. Call 250-885-2320 to book an appointment today.