Between transitioning out of weekend-mode and back into full-on work mode, Mondays are always hard to get through.
Your mind feels sluggish, your body is tired and lethargic for some reason, you can’t think on your feet as fast as you normally can, you keep forgetting things you need to remember, and you can’t get yourself to focus properly on one thing without your mind continuously forking off down a seemingly endless number of digressions and distractions.
Sometimes, though, it may not just be the Monday blues at all. As it turns out, mental fatigue is a huge cause for concern for Singaporean workers, and especially so for millennials. In 2013, for instance, a JobStreet survey reported that 60% of Singaporean employees felt mentally exhausted at work.
Not much has changed in the past few years; a 2019 survey by Cigna indicated that Singapore has one of the highest rates of employee burnout in the world. Similarly, a simple Google search of “millennial burnout” churns out a myriad results.
Still, so many of us have passively accepted the feeling of being constantly mentally exhausted as part and parcel of working life. Therein lies the problem; persistent mental fatigue can be just as detrimental to one’s performance, happiness and general well-being as chronic physical exhaustion. The difference is that the former is a much more “invisible” (and therefore easily dismissed) affliction than the latter.
Just like any other affliction, tackling the problem requires not just the admission that it’s a problem in the first step, but also an acute understanding of its root causes. Here are three reasons why you’re constantly mentally exhausted.
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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but it also fogs his mind up. Brain fog, as the condition is colloquially known, describes the state of having a muddled mind.
If a brain-fogged mind were a workspace, it would be overrun with mental clutter: piles and heaps of it stacked haphazardly, one on top of the other, such that the actual desk is no longer visible. Constant stress only adds to the mountains of mental clutter.
The antidote, however, is not simply to give yourself more downtime. Indeed, many of the leisurely pursuits that we tend to engage in in our free time today—Netflix marathons, for example—are passive activities that do little to mentally reinvigorate us.
If it’s excessive mental clutter that’s causing your mental exhaustion, then sitting passively in the midst of all that mental mess isn’t going to solve anything. The solution, in this case, is to find ways to KonMari your mind regularly, just as you would your physical workspace.
Every day, whether at work or outside of it, we face a never-ending tsunami of information from the minute we open our eyes in the morning to the minute we go to bed at night.
It doesn’t help that many of us check our phones first thing in the morning and last thing before sleeping. Hence, we unwittingly spend every waking minute sifting through way more information than we can realistically handle. Mental exhaustion is then a foregone conclusion instead of a possibility.
As Nicholas Carr writes in his bestselling book, “What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains”, this information overload means that we’re perpetually taking in new information without really absorbing anything. Consequently, it’s overburdening our mental periphery, obscuring our mental clarity, without adding meaningfully to our long-term knowledge and skills.
Mind and body both feed on each other; meaning that your physical health can have an effect on your mental and emotional health as well.
When you’re not getting enough sleep, proper rest, exercise, and nutrition, your mental state will inevitably take a hit. Add stress to the equation, and you have a recipe for disaster; in time, you’ll reach the point of fatigue faster and faster than you did in the past.