Why do you feel tired today? Why is it a bad day? Why are things such a monotonous struggle?
You’ve slept well. You feel good. You’ve eaten well and you have nobody to answer to today. Yet somehow there’s this stubborn tiredness latched onto you, stealing the clarity to make the correct decisions about how to be most productive……for you and not anyone else. You don’t want to socialise today. You don’t want to come up with the ideas and you’re tired of feeling guilty for not being 100% productive.
If you’re so sure it’s not physical, what could cause such an issue? Is there such a thing as mental fatigue?
We know when our muscles are tired; we feel soreness. We know when we need to sleep; our eyes start closing and our head gets heavy. But how do you know when you’re mentally drained?
Everything you set out to do in this world requires mental energy and fortitude. Even the physical stuff. Physicality originates in the mind. No matter how willing the body is, if the mind isn’t going to play ball, you’ll not be at your best.
In order to preserve – and even build – mental energy, we need to first look at the mechanisms in which it’s often lost. I guess in many ways, this is a letter to myself; most of the blocks to mental flourish we will cover are things I need to work on too.
Mindfulness & Stopping The Self-Criticism
There’s a difference between being aware of your shortcomings and weaknesses, and being unnecessarily self-critical. One of my favourite ways to ‘survive’ the brutal atmospheres of places like school playgrounds and boisterous environments, where people are dying to put you down in order to feel better about themselves, was to always take whatever they said and escalate it. It was like I’d beat them at their own game…..
“Yes I am a yeti and I am whiter than milk itself” I’d say, when I’d get mocked for my chest and stomach hair and not having a tan. What made this powerful was saying it with apparent confidence. Was I really confident, you ask? Of course not. But by attempting to portray myself as confident, it actually built confidence. It’s a form of untouchable-ness.
None of this is to say those comments, when repeated, don’t run very deep. They do. And this can lead to a hypercritical approach to one’s self. You almost start looking for the next thing you’ll have used against you. This situation manifests itself usually in the form of incessant comparisons between yourself and others. You want to be on par. Nobody wants to be the lesser compared to anyone else.
If you’ve not yet learned the art of appreciating the gifts you have, then you’ll be the victim of so much mental toxicity. It’s all down to your personal perspective; what you tell yourself. I used to be the king of negative self talk. I once accepted I’d be jobless, without a girlfriend and never finish first at anything. This was before I found fitness and its healing power, of course.
These days, I regularly praise myself for what I’m good at: Remembering information (names, birthdays, stats and facts), my robotic dedication, my strong emotional control, my passions for what I like and my conversation skills. It’s this concoction that keeps me from obsessing over all my ‘bad’ points: My lack of creativity, my emotional coldness, my lack of good looks and my tendency to procrastinate.
This is something I learnt over time but other helpful methods are gratitude journaling and meditation. Both contribute to self appreciation, gratitude and mindfulness. Self-hatred is a big leak in the mental fuel tank, take my word for it.
Socialising & The Influence Of Others
You are the 5 people you surround yourself with most. No matter how independent and individual you see yourself, the influence of others on your character and thinking is unavoidable. Us humans mirror and mimic what we like. It’s in our evolution.
(Related Reading: 3 Steps To Bringing The Right People Into Your Life)
Your interactions with other people can either boost you or drain you, depending on who they’re with and the dynamics at play. You may be a giver – someone who does a lot of initiating and carrying of conversations and interactions. If you’re a giver and you’re not receiving similar energy levels in return, you’ll feel mentally exhausted around certain people.
And the interesting thing is, you may not even realise it. You’ll keep seeing friends out of habit and doing the things you normally do because you don’t realise you, A) deserve more, and B) are capable of more. You’ll know this is the case when you are scheduled to see someone and do something and you have no desire; you’re ok with not doing it today. And if you do feel like this, forgive yourself and allow yourself the time away. It’s good for you.
As tribal as humans are, we still need solitude and silence and removal of distractions. All of this recharges the brain. I used to never turn any social events down because I had the philosophy of ‘what if I never get another chance?’ I still support the theory, but I look objectively at situations and am more in tune as to whether I need a break or not. If I feel the said outing will take more than it gives, I’ll allow myself to miss it.
I don’t know if the spiritualists and mindful gurus will say this is a form of self-awareness? I’d be inclined to say so but what do I know.
So many fitness blogs, websites, Instagrammers and YouTubers obsess about the physical aspects of fitness but fail to even consider the brain’s role in the whole picture. You can train a body to look so good but if the mind is cluttered and ill, you will always be far from your potential on this planet.
Take steps to look after yourself mentally as well as physically and you’ll experience more happiness.
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.