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Is Your Mind Tired? Here's How To Cope With Mental Fatigue

Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 16, 2022

    Is Your Mind Tired? Here's How To Cope With Mental Fatigue

    We often associate fatigue with the state of being very tired. But, according to experts, fatigue can transcend the physical state. Some people can also become subjectively fatigued, wherein they report feeling sleepy or weary. Mostly, it is their mental state that suffers from exhaustion. What are the signs of mental fatigue, and how do you cope with it?

    What is Mental Fatigue?

    While mental fatigue is not an official diagnosis, its symptoms and effects can negatively affect a person’s quality of life. 

    Generally, when you have mental fatigue, your mind is exhausted. This can affect your ability to decide, pay attention, or maintain a thorough thought process.

    Reasons for mental exhaustion vary. It may be due to stress, the high demands of your job, and uncertainties of what the future holds. Even repetitive tasks and surroundings can lead to fatigue.

    It goes without saying that the pandemic has caused a lot of people to experience a similar kind of fatigue (pandemic fatigue). 

    Sometimes, being physically spent can make you mentally tired. Likewise, being mentally tired can make you feel physically exhausted. 

    One report also noted that mental fatigue is a central component of the cognitive and clinical characteristics of stress-related exhaustion disorder (ED). ED is a condition that results in physical and psychological symptoms of exhaustion due to prolonged psychosocial stress¹

    How To Tell If You Have Mental Fatigue

    Because it is not a clinical diagnosis, there’s no official list of signs and symptoms. But there are telling signs that someone is experiencing mental exhaustion. 

    Below are some of the symptoms of mental fatigue:

    • Being short-tempered or highly irritable
    • Inability to pay attention, which means you can get easily distracted
    • Difficulty understanding the information provided to you 
    • Difficulty solving problems
    • Feeling disconnected
    • Being forgetful 
    • Difficulty making decisions; even routine decisions can become difficult
    • Difficulty doing daily tasks 
    • Choosing to delay or avoid responsibilities

    Note that mental fatigue can also lead to physical symptoms (sleep troubles, headaches, etc.) and behavioral changes (not wanting to socialize, demotivated, etc.)

    Left unmanaged, a person may become anxious or even, depressed. 

    How To Cope With Mental Fatigue 

    If you experience the symptoms of mental exhaustion, you might benefit from the following tips:

    1. Ask yourself: What’s behind your mental exhaustion?

    In many cases, mental fatigue results from several reasons. But, if you can pinpoint a particular cause, then you can take a more structured approach in handling your fatigue. 

    For instance, if you know that the high demands of your job causes your fatigue, then you can talk to your superior or colleagues about it. Perhaps, you can take a break, delegate some tasks, or move some deadlines. 

    2. Focus on your health

    Poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and inadequate sleep can magnify the effects of your mental fatigue. 

    Eat a balanced diet by eating more nutrient-dense foods, exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, and sleep for a minimum of 7 hours a night. This will keep your body strong and resistant to stressors. 

    3. Self-care is not a “waste of time”

    Taking a break from work, practicing mindfulness meditation, and doing things that bring you happiness are not a waste of time. 

    In fact, experts say you must find time to do things you enjoy daily. 

    4. Organize and prioritize

    Being organized and prioritizing tasks can help reduce mental fatigue. Organization speeds things up and decreases both physical and mental clutter.

    Prioritization helps you do things that need to be done ASAP. 

    5. Ask for support

    Finally, if you want to beat mental fatigue, you need to ask for support when you need it. 

    If you need help to speed things up, ask for it. Will delegation reduce your stress? Saying no to people when you don’t have the bandwidth to do things is also a form of asking for support. 

    And of course, asking for help also means getting in touch with a mental health expert when you need to. This is especially important if your mental symptoms already affect your daily routine or when you have symptoms of anxiety disorder or depression. 

    Learn more about cultivating a healthy mind here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Dexter Macalintal, MD

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 16, 2022

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