Work or study requirements can take their toll on your brain. If you don’t give your brain enough rest and recovery, your mental performance can steadily decline. Unfortunately, we can’t take mental holidays whenever we need them. We can, however, do a few things that will help our brains to perform better.
How to win the battle on mental fatigue
Reduce stress as much as you can
This sounds a lot easier said than done, and honestly, it is. There are certain stressors that you can’t avoid, like work or studies. There are some that you can avoid; like alcohol, smoking, foods that are high in sugar, stressful situations and negative emotions.
1. Avoid alcohol
Many people think that alcohol will reduce the amount of stress that they might be suffering from. Unfortunately, this is not true. You will most likely feel stress-free while consuming alcohol, but the way that you feel the next morning is a better indicator about what alcohol does to your brain in the long-term.
Alcohol dehydrates your brain. This will have a negative effect on mental recovery because your brain needs nutrients like water and blood flow to recover from mental stress. Try swapping out the activity of drinking alcohol for more healthy activities like taking a walk, mediation or prayer, or find a good hobby like painting.
2. Stay away from smoking
Similar to alcohol, people assume that smoking cigarettes or electronic cigarettes will help to calm the mind. Unfortunately, this is not the case either. Nicotine from these vices is addictive. This makes the brain panic when you don’t have nicotine in your system. This will increase the amount of stress that you feel when you don’t have access to one of these devices. For that reason (among others), addictive substances like nicotine will decrease your brain’s ability to cope with stress.
Detoxing from negative things like alcohol, cigarettes or other toxins will also have a positive effect on mental function.
3. Reduce high sugar intake
Sugar triggers the release of dopamine in our brains. Dopamine is known as the happy hormone because it makes us feel good. In nature, this was meant to encourage us to eat more fruit and vegetables. When too much sugar from processed foods like sweets or snacks enters the brain, it overloads our pleasure centers and causes a sharp drop in blood sugar straight afterwards. This reduces the amount of energy that the brain has to perform optimally. Click here if you want to learn more about eating less unhealthy food.
4. Avoid stressful situations
As we have already discussed, there are some situations that we cannot control. This includes things like work or studying. There are, however, some situations that we can control. These include social situations. If you have a friendship group that stresses you out, it can have a negative effect on your mental ability to cope with other stresses. Consider changing your friends to more positive people or sorting out the issues that are causing you any stress.
5. Reduce negative emotions
This is one of my favorite tips. You might not be able to reduce the amount of work that you need to get through, but simply changing the way that you feel about that work will decrease the amount of stress that it places on your brain. For example, have you ever wondered why you can watch a movie for over an hour but you lose focus in a meeting? Or have you noticed that you can scroll through social media for longer than you can read a book? This is because the brain works harder in situations where it feels stressed or under pressure. This makes it tire more quickly. If you can learn to see your mental workload as more enjoyable, you will be able to do it for longer before you experience mental fatigue.
- Cold showers can rejuvenate the brain and body at the same time. You can learn more about that here.
- Placing tea bags on your eyes will help you to relax if you feel stressed out. This can even help your eyes to recover from eye strain.
- Regular exercise will boost blood flow to your brain and give it some time to relax. Exercise is great at reducing the effects of stress. Cardio is the best form of exercise for beginners.
- Other ways to improve mental performance include drinking more water, eating nutritious foods like fruit and vegetables, learning how to breathe deeply and taking brisk walks to break long periods of work.
Think of your brain as a muscle: It can only work for a certain period of time before it needs rest. If you exercise it and give it the rest and nutrients that it needs to recover, it will be able to do more and more as it gets better.