Everybody has experienced an awful day where everything feels completely overwhelming, and you just don’t have the emotional endurance to face your responsibilities and problems – you know, reality. The real issue is when a good night’s sleep or a fun weekend with your friends and family isn’t enough to clear your mind and give you back the energy you need to deal with reality.
If these unsustainably stressful feelings extend over a significant period of time, you might be dealing with mental exhaustion. Popularly known as burnout, this mental disorder can happen to anyone who faces long-term stress, and it may manifest differently from person to person.
Always remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take good care of both. Here are 7signs you (might) have mental fatigue!
1. Sleep Problems
Stress and sleep are closely linked. They affect each other powerfully and distinctly: you have trouble falling asleep when you are highly stressed, and you get highly stressed when you can’t fall asleep, even though your life seems perfectly fine.
While for some people the prolonged stress can cause them sleeping problems such as insomnia, for others, it can have the opposite effect and make them sleep much more than usual.
Having a bad night once in a while is normal. But if it happens repeatedly, it’s time to seriously understand what’s causing it. Poor sleep quality and problems with your circadian rhythm are often a warning sign that something’s off with your mental state.
2. Memory Problems And Short Attention Span
The lack of sleep induced by stress can have a negative impact on your memory. During sleep, your brain is processing the information collected throughout the day and storing memories.
If all these brain processes are disturbed by the lack of sleep, you will start experiencing memory lapses.
You might also have trouble focusing on a specific task for more than a dozen minutes. That’s right! Mental fatigue can shorten your attention span significantly.
Since there are too many things crossing your mind at the same time, your imagination will quickly take you away from what you should be focusing on, and some worrying thoughts will pop in your mind, apparently coming out of nowhere. This is one of the reasons why it can be challenging to get some work done when you are mentally exhausted.
3. Brain Fog And Confusion
When your mind is all over the place due to high levels of stress, it can be hard to process new pieces of information, or even to perform a simple assignment that you would do with your eyes closed under normal circumstances.
Thinking about something, solving simple problems, or even dealing with sensory input may seem like a Herculean task when you are mentally and emotionally drained.
4. Lack Of Motivation
This is probably the first and most common mental fatigue symptom. However, it is important to note that a lack of motivation is a broad concept.
Everyone can say that, at some point, they felt unmotivated, and without the energy needed to perform a specific task. In most of those cases, that mild lack of motivation doesn’t stop people from moving on with their lives.
On a deeper level, however, lack of motivation will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your existence. It can completely prevent you from doing all the things you need to do, all the things you want to do, and it can even prevent you from becoming who you want to be.
This heavy and almost excruciating lack of motivation can be caused by anxiety, depression, and, of course, mental exhaustion.
5. Feeling Overly Emotional
People who are mentally exhausted tend to be unpredictable and unstable on an emotional level. In a moment, it may seem like everything’s great, and then next, you can find them locked in their bedroom feeling like the world’s falling apart.
These mood swings and emotional sensitivity can make social life seem almost unbearable because even an innocent and harmless statement or action may trigger an aggressive, emotional reaction when you are dealing with mental fatigue.
6. Psychosomatic Symptoms
The term psychosomatic refers to the physical symptoms that are a direct consequence of a mental health disorder, or that are partially influenced by it (psyche means mind and soma means body).
Stress can cause many different kinds of physical pain, including headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, high heart rate, restlessness, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, teeth grinding, shortness of breath, and fainting, for example.
If you experience these physical symptoms while feeling overly stressed, please be honest with your doctor. He needs to know what you are going through at an emotional level to make a proper diagnosis.
7. Eating Disorders
Although weight gain and weight loss can be considered a psychosomatic symptom, they should be discussed on a separate topic since they are a direct consequence of an eating disorder caused by stress.
Depending on your personality and emotional state, the eating disorder may manifest itself in opposite ways. While some people lose their appetite and don’t even have the motivation to cook a decent meal, others find their comfort in food and start doing what we commonly call stress eating. Both reactions have a devastating impact on a person’s health.
8. Mental Fatigue Causes
Mental fatigue can have very different origins. However, it almost always results from the fact that the patient cannot cope adequately with a highly stressful life event (or sequence of life events).
Coping mechanisms are innate tools that we create, and that allows us to distance ourselves from our problems and relativize them–problems that may or may not be easily identifiable.
Common causes of mental fatigue include:
– Death of a loved one;
– Work-related problems (working long hours, dealing with high-pressure tasks, being stuck on a job that we hate, etc.);
– Financial issues;
– Lack of social support and interaction;
– Family problems;