Do you ever feel overwhelmed just thinking about all you have to do?
Do you find yourself snapping at others who seem to be too laid back?
Have you given up too many things that you used to enjoy because you’re too focused on work?
That was me a few years ago – and this mental fatigue and stress was a key factor of keeping my binge eating alive and well, much longer than it should have.
Mental fatigue is the result of brain over-activity. It can happen when you expend too much mental effort on a project, work or situation. You may pride yourself on your laser-focusing ability, spending long hours on a task, day in and day out. But every strength, taken to the extreme, becomes a liability. Your overdrive eventually catches up with you, and you deplete your awesomeness mental gas tank.
It goes without saying, adopting healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits are the best things you can do to manage stress. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands.
In addition, the following success rituals are just some ways I have been able to noticeably improve my health, wellbeing and happiness.
- Start the Day With a Relaxation Ritual
Rather than jumping straight out of bed as soon as I wake up, I now spend a few minutes stretching like a starfish in my bed to wake up slowly, before moving to the kitchen for a tall glass of warm lemon water, and then into my lounge room for my 5am meditation.
After meditation I spend a few minutes writing in my thankful journal before starting my day (see this post on what I write in my thankful diary and tips on how you can get started).
- Go For a 30 Minute Walk
I generally walk along the beach since I live one block from it. I actually made a strategic decision to buy a home close to the beach as I find it very calming for my soul. If the weather is bad or it’s still dark, I hit the treadmill in the gym, but my preference is always to get outdoors, to celebrate nature and out innate connection to it.
My walk gives me a chance to think about the day ahead; to “set my day up to win”. I prioritise my tasks and organise them in evernote on my phone. It also gives me an opportunity to listen to an inspiring podcast or audiobook and never fails to put me in the right frame of mind.
- Set Boundaries
Don’t overextend yourself. Learning how to say “no” to requests on my time was one of the hardest lessons to learn. Saying no now comes so easy that I have virtually no trouble saying it at all.
If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do; things that truly bring you happiness and closer to your life’s purpose. This is the reason we are here people!
- Take a Daily Break From Technology
Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, stop checking email and STOP wasting time on Pinterest!! (Megan).
I now have a FULL day free of social media and mobile use each week. When I first started, I felt stressed about letting people down; but the flipside was that I would continue to let myself down. And that’s not acceptable.
I now look forward to my day off from technology and never say sorry for a delayed reply. Saying sorry all the time (like I used to) is just another small withdrawal from your confidence and happiness bank as it puts you in a state of mind that you have done something wrong.
You don’t need to go to this length, especially if your work and career commitments don’t allow you to, but be brutally honest with yourself, could you at least give it a try? Even if for a half a day at a time?
- Nourish Your Creative Side
Creativity is a powerful antidote to stress and mental fatigue.
Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favourite hobby.
Choose activities that have nothing to do with work, so long as it satisfies two requirements:
- It has to be something you enjoy doing, and
- You have to be able to make clear, measurable progress while doing it.
The ongoing progress sends your brain a steady stream of the pleasure-inducing chemical dopamine, which will help make your mind more resistant to stress in general.
Some of the activities I’ve explored are aromatherapy, DJ-ing, surfing and learning to speak Indonesian!
- Think Happy Thoughts
When you’re stressed, your brain has trouble sending information from the amygdala (basically your brain’s gatekeeper) to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-level thinking. But focusing on something positive— like your upcoming holiday or a date that you’re looking forward to—can help lower stress levels and increase the flow of information to your prefrontal cortex.
Translation: You’ll actually be able to start thinking clearly again.
- Avoid Bad Energy
Have you noticed how some people are chronic complainers or often emit anger and irritability?
How do you feel around them?
Scientists have discovered that we have mirror neurons that trigger us to directly experience the emotional atmosphere of others. Take an inventory of people in your life that drain you. Then take the initiative to end toxic relationships, surrounding yourself with positive ones.
- Qigong Breathing Technique
Stand with your feet hip distance apart, knees relaxed, arms at your sides. As you inhale, slowly raise your arms to the sides, palms up, until they are overhead. Imagine that you are gathering the energy first of the earth, then the sky in your hands. Then exhale as you lower your hand, palms down in front of you. As you exhale, visualize all the natural energy flowing through you like gold light, cleaning, relaxing and vitalizing your body, mind and emotions. Continue for three minutes.
If you are in a setting where you can’t do the movement, on a plane perhaps, do the breath practice and imagine the movements. I now take 10 deep breaths before every meal while giving thanks for the food I’m about to eat, and practice breathing daily. It’s one of the most powerful success rituals I have for calming a stressed mind and helping me to overcome binge eating.
- Love Blast
Picture the face of someone you love.
And if there isn’t a person, a pet will do – a jar of peanut butter doesn’t ?
Research has suggested this kind of visualization releases a cascade of “feel good” chemicals, such as endorphins, into your system for an all-around energy boost.
- Try Focus@Will
Focus@Will is a music service that’s based on the latest research in neuroscience. The selected music helps you focus, reduce distractions and retain information. As the company behind this intersection of art and science explains, most people can only concentrate for about 100 continuous minutes: The focus@will system makes it easier for you to get into the concentration flow, and then keeps you there. It works in the background by subtly soothing the part of your brain, the limbic system, that’s always on the lookout for danger, food, sex or shiny things.
By staying focused, you can get more done in a shorter amount of time, so you can free up more time and reduce your chances of mental fatigue.
- Learn to Do Nothing Once in a While
We’re a nation of doers—continuously on the go, rushing from meeting to meeting, project to project. Even when we’re on holiday, a large number among us spends more time surfing the Internet rather than surfing the waves.
John Lennon once said, “Everybody seems to think I’m lazy. I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy. Running everywhere at such a speed, till they find there’s no need.” Planning for a little idleness in your week is a smart move if you’re trying to refresh your spirit—it’s a powerful antidote to mental fatigue.
- Reduce Your Sleep Debt
Sleep debt is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount you actually get. It’s not uncommon for professionals and new parents to miss several hours of sleep for a few days in a row. This is a surefire way to invite mental fatigue.
Research shows, on average, Australians lose one hour of sleep each night—more than two full weeks of slumber every year. This has a negative impact on our health. Make it a practice to go to bed when you’re tired and give your body the rest it needs so you can stop mental fatigue in its tracks.
Learning how to manage stress takes time and practice, just like exercising your muscles or implementing new lifestyle changes.
The superhuman lifestyle, and there are many varieties, are a core cause of fatigue.
Set limits — learn to say no. Prioritize those people and things that you want to really come first.
As the old Zen saying goes, “If not now, when?”
There is no better time than right now to start or revive a practice, or as many as you need, to nourish your body, heart and spirit and actively shape the rest of your life ?
I’d love for you to share with me, which daily success ritual do you practice to help avoid mental fatigue and burnout?