Mental Health Week on Introvert Spring continues and today we’re talking about something many introverts struggle with: mental fatigue.
Most introverts have struggled with mental fatigue at some point. For some introverts it’s a constant battle. Your mind is tired and overloaded to the point that your mental resources are depleted. Mental processing moves at the speed of fog. Unfortunately, life doesn’t slow down just because your brain has decided to go on holiday.
How can you deal with mental fatigue when the demands on your overloaded brain never cease? There are easy ways to prevent and fix mental fatigue, which we’ll talk about in a bit.
But first, here are the signs that you do indeed have mental fatigue:
1. You want to put the world on mute.
Introverts process more information from our environments at a given time than extroverts. That’s why we’re more prone to overstimulation. When you’re struggling with mental fatigue the sensory overload can be unbearable. You become acutely aware of the noise, busyness, bright lights, and constant chatter surrounding you. You want to close the door, turn off the lights, and make it all go away.
2. Even small decisions are tough.
When you have mental fatigue, making decisions feels overwhelming. After all, even small decisions require a degree of mental clarity. When it already feels like too many tabs are open in your brain, decisions can cause a brain freeze—and not the yummy ice cream induced kind. It’s more like when your computer freezes right as you’re about to save an important assignment.
3. You’re moodier than a Tim Burton movie.
Introverts have a bit of a reputation for being moody as it is. In our defence, usually our sudden mood swings have to do with social overwhelm and overstimulation. Mental fatigue causes even more emotional sensitivity. One minute you might feel fine as wine and the next, you’re crying in a bathroom stall.
4. Your motivation has officially left the building.
It’s beyond difficult to stay motivated when you’re struggling with mental fatigue. After all, mental fatigue is your mind’s way of telling you that it’s taking a break whether you like it or not.
Basically, your brain is pissed that you’ve been like a slavedriver boss working it to the bone as if it’s a minimum wage employee. It sits back and laughs at your futile efforts to do anything but curl up in the fetal position on the couch.
5. You have the attention span of a toddler.
Mental fatigue turns you into a toddler with a ten-second attention span. You try to focus on work, but your thoughts get carried away with the wind. The worst part is that you can’t even enjoy your forays into fantasy land because your imagination is fried, too. Your brain is a cold, grey room full of nothing but worries on repeat.
6. You eat like you’re a contestant on Survivor.
You cope with mental fatigue by changing the way you eat. You might eat less because you feel too stressed to nourish yourself. Or you stuff your face with simple carbs to give your tired brain a quick hit of sugar bliss.
7. Your body is angry at you.
There are plenty of psychosomatic symptoms associated with mental fatigue. After all, “psyche” means mind and “soma” means body. Put them together and you have a concept that’s taken modern medicine way too long to acknowledge: pain in the brain equals pain in your body.
This makes sense since your brain keeps your body humming like a souped up Mustang. Unfortunately, when you have mental fatigue, your body starts to break down, too.
Mental fatigue throws a wrench in your colon and messes up your digestion. You might also have sore muscles, cramps, headaches, and the sense that everything is a pain in the ass. On top of all that, mental fatigue slows down your ability to heal from injury and illness.
Now that you know the signs of mental fatigue, you can take easy steps to prevent and fix it. Here are some suggestions:
Asking an introvert to stop thinking is like asking a sloth to hurry up. It seems unnatural, because it is. But we introverts can think LESS. We can be more choosey about where we devote our mental attention. If it’s not essential, then delegate it, ditch it, or be like Annie and sing Tomorrow, Tomorrow!
Be a boundaries b*tch
Excuse the harsh language, but sometimes you just have to take a not-so-nice approach to the things that matter. Set firm boundaries around when you will work and when you will rest. Protect those boundaries with mama lion fierceness.
Take better care of your body
We’ve already talked about the brain-body connection. It goes both ways. How you treat your body has a huge impact on your mental health. Feeding it properly and exercising regularly will both prevent and cure mental fatigue.
Small rewards are both motivating and, well, rewarding. It feels good to take a break and give yourself a treat for all your hard work.
Think of it this way, as children we were programmed to believe that when we were good we would get a little reward. Good boys and girls got a gold star, a cuddle, or a pack of Bubblicous. What kind of message do you send yourself when you work harder and harder with no reward in sight?
Over to you
Do you struggle with mental fatigue? Please do share your thoughts and experiences below. I’d love to hear from you!