Dealing with Work Stress and Mental Fatigue
How to battle the unavoidable attacks.
The Blues: Stress and Mental Fatigue
It was okay to feel like my energy was flagging at work every now and then. But it wasn’t okay that I was constantly feeling this off and wasn’t quite sure why. Turns out, it was my brain’s way of signalling that I was doing something wrong.
There are days the tiredness comes in both forms; physical and mental. One day, my brain seemed to be on 5% battery. My body needed to rest, yet my mind needed it to move, to burn the anxiety right out. Without rest, my mind will keep me up all night and my body will spiral into exhaustion. Then there’s the kind of tired that needs a good night’s sleep, and another that needs so much more. For me, one became the other. It was then I knew that being tired could be a wearing of emotions too, that it can come together with a tired body, and become an ingrained part of a life that isn’t lived, but survived, endured.
By 2 pm, I was moving through my tasks for the day in slow motion and my attention was flagging in meetings.
Indeed, I was living in avoidance mode. In other words, I was stressed up. Stress is that emotion you experience when you haven’t successfully avoided something negative out there in the world. Short-term stress can be easily managed, but long-term stress just saps your energy. So, I tried to find a way out. That meant figuring out how to calm myself when the stress reached its peak.
Battling it out in the Quiet
I made my move. Dashed into some quiet space, shut my eyes to the troubles of this world, especially my work, taking slow, deep breaths. Slow breathing can calm you down, and paying attention to those breaths can keep you from focusing all your mental energy on the things that are stressing you out. It’s not easy, for me especially. But if you’re used to meditation, you should find this somewhat easy to do.
If you’ve got lovely views from your office window, look through and soak in the views. Daydream if you must. This is also a good time to call a loved one and have a good laugh.
If you’ve been doing it all wrong…
At first, I thought taking a break meant listening to music while scrolling through my company’s social media news feeds or snacking while checking emails, or having a chitchat with a colleague while going through my to-do list for the day. Certainly, that was what I was doing wrong and my brain was kind of getting mad at me for doing those things. So, my brain kept sapping my energy until I figured out I needed to take a mental break.
Just a reminder:
Taking a mental break from work doesn’t mean you won’t feel tired at work ever again. That you’ll always have that Monday morning motivation. That you’ll always have that feeling that you can deliver on all your tasks for the day and even take on extra ones. It just means you’ll stay focused and motivated most of the days.
Learn to slow down and just breathe…