Mental Exhaustion: 7 Ways To Recover

Posted on - in Productivity Hacks
mental exhaustion

Anyone who’s ever undertaken a huge project, such as completing their finals or taking on an important client project at work, will tell you that it can be mentally exhausting.

Once the task is complete, it can feel as if you’re totally mentally drained, with no energy left to interact with others or even do anything.

If this state of affairs is left unchecked, other problems can quickly come about in the mentally exhausted person’s work, family and social life. Luckily though, there are ways to recover when you’re mentally exhausted, and ways to avoid the situation in the first place.

1. Unplug To Stop Mental Exhaustion In Its Tracks

Chances are you spend all day replying to emails, checking Facebook and texting people. Technology is a fantastic tool, but when you’re emotionally drained it’s just one more thing that’s demanding mental energy you just do not have.

Turn all your devices off – warning your friends and co-workers if you feel you need to – and go do something that doesn’t require you to sit in front of a screen. You can also set boundaries regarding technology, such as banning phones at the dinner table, if you find that you’re devoting too much time to work when you’re with your family.

2. Get Enough Sleep To Prevent It In The First Place

If you’re mentally exhausted, it’s best not to pile physical exhaustion on top of it. Getting enough sleep at night can lead to better concentration, improved memory and clearer thinking.

When you don’t get enough sleep, it’s harder to make decisions and easier to make mistakes, which can raise your stress level. Catching up on sleep, or making sure you have a regular sleep schedule, can help you recover more easily.

3. Try Mindfulness And Meditation Techniques

Mental exhaustion can come about if you have to slog your way through a project, without being able to check in with yourself or take breaks. If you’re looking to take some time for yourself or avoid burnout, meditation and mindfulness may be for you. Mindfulness asks you to stop and pay attention to the world around you, without worrying about the past or future.

Try a small mindfulness exercise, such as a breathing exercise, and take some time out for yourself.

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4. Say No When You Feel Mental Exhaustion Coming On

If you’re mentally exhausted and need to relax, it can be difficult if you feel you can’t say no to people. However, laying some boundaries means you can take care of yourself and therefore be more able to cope with life’s challenges. Wanting to please other people can deplete your own resources, which doesn’t help anyone. Practice saying no when you need to recharge, and see the benefit to your emotional health.

5. Indulge In Your Hobby, Or Take Up A New One

If you’ve been busy with work or other activities, you’ve probably not had time to practice your favorite hobby. Spend time getting back into it, and let yourself recharge.

Hobbies have a wide range of benefits, such as encouraging you to take a break, offering a new challenge and uniting you with others. It’s an activity that you can undertake just for the sheer joy of it, with no deadlines or goals attached.

6. See Your Friends To Start Feeling Better

You’ve probably been so busy you haven’t had the chance to catch up with your nearest and dearest. Make the time now to get together. Humans are social animals, and need interaction with others.

If you can’t see your friends straight away, try picturing the face of a loved one. Research shows that it can release feel-good chemicals, such as endorphins, into the blood stream for an energy boost.

7. Reflect On Why Mental Exhaustion Happens To You

Now that you’ve finished and can sit back and look back on what you’ve done, think about what worked and what didn’t. Could you have avoided burnout in any way? If you could have, try to implement some tips such as the ones above into your everyday life, to act as a failsafe for future projects.

Also, take note of anything you did well, even if it was simply going for a 10-minute walk every day to clear your head. Small acts like that can do wonders for your emotional health.

Remember, your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. You’re at your best when you’re paying close attention to both.

Be sure to take frequent breaks to check in with yourself when you’re working hard, and you’ll likely be happier, healthier and more productive.

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Kayla Matthews writes Productivity Theory and is constantly seeking to provide new tips and hacks to keep you motivated and inspired! You can also find her on Huffington Post and Tiny Buddha, and follow her on Google+ and Twitter to stay up to date on her latest productivity posts!


  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    Great post, Kayla – and a really important topic that deserves more discussion around it. A few things that have helped me is first that I’ve logged out of all my social media accounts on my phone. This way, I don’t accidentally use my spare time on these sites. Second, I always take walks during the day to unplug and get a break. This is a great way to both get light exercise, fresh air and have a moment to reflect on either your day so far or unplug completely and just enjoy the scenery. 🙂

    5 years ago
    • Kayla Matthews

      Thanks for reading, Camilla! It’s great to hear that you know what works for you when you’re feeling exhausted; so many people are still trying to figure that out.

      Keep up the great work!


      5 years ago

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