The mental fatigue, mental fatigue also called, is the decreased mental and physical functional efficiency over a period of time.
When the person is mentally tired, their ability to cope with the cognitive demands of the environment or task, intensity or duration is diminished.
Mental fatigue is a result of the interaction between the person and the work he performs, understanding as work both the task he performs and the conditions in which the person does it.
The mental fatigue is due mainly to the demands that the person performs at work, mainly of mental type, although it is accompanied by physical demands that are usually sedentary.
Tasks with variable cognitive functions (where they must understand, reason, solve problems, mobilize resources such as concentration, attention and memory.
Mental fatigue occurs when the person has a heavy mental burden at work. The mental burden can be defined as the amount of mental effort a person must perform in order to achieve a goal.
A person presents an excess of mental load when the demands of the task in the work that must be done, the rhythm that the person must carry, the tension that supports or the continued attention are superior to those that can cope.
We must be clear, in any case, that mental fatigue is not always produced by work and in no case is due exclusively to work, because also influence the habits of life of the person, his way of facing situations, his personal circumstances , etc. And all this is important in the face of prevention and intervention.
What factors determine mental fatigue or why is it produced?
In the first place, it should be clarified that although there are several factors that contribute to the appearance of mental fatigue, it is a multi-causal phenomenon.
Risk factors that determine mental fatigue include:
- a) The demands of the task: we include here the tasks in which responsibility is required, a high sustained attention, and dangerous activities. The duration of the activity and the content of the activity must also be taken into account.
We are talking about complex tasks or with a high level of concentration or those tasks that require more attention and visual fixation.
- b) Physical conditions of the workplace: here we include lighting, temperature, smell or noise, all of which can also affect mental fatigue.
- c) Organizational factors: also influences the type of organization and the climate and the organizational culture, the group and the conflicts that take place. Labor relations, such as those that have to do between workers or the management can also influence.
- d) Individual characteristics: the age of the person, their training, the attitude they have, their personality, their state of health, their experience…
- e) Time: must take into account the time that the worker must be paying attention to the task and the time available to perform the work.
- f) The information he handles in his work, whether in quantity (if much information or less) or complexity (if the degree of complexity varies).
Mental fatigue can occur in those jobs where there is strong emotional involvement on the part of the worker. Also in works with great intellectual exigency or in those that although simple, is monotonous.
Mental tiredness usually takes place more in those positions with little physical activity for the worker.
What are the symptoms of mental fatigue?
Mental tiredness affects the whole organism, both physically and mentally. Among the symptoms that are associated with mental fatigue, we find:
– Loss of concentration.
– Decreased attention.
– Decreased motivation.
– Less ability to assimilate and retain information.
– Increased errors.
– Sleep disorders.
– Eye fatigue.
– Feeling tired.
– Parenthesis (numbness).
– Irritability, generally emotional instability.
– Worse relationship between the effort and the result obtained.
– Digestive disorders.
– Musculoskeletal pain.
– Psychosomatic alterations.
The feeling of fatigue and exhaustion that occurs is part of a mechanism of adaptation and balance on the part of the organism, since it appears so that it is able to adapt giving signs of the need for rest.
The feeling of monotony, diminished alertness or being “saturated” are states that resemble mental fatigue.
Consequences of mental fatigue
Mental fatigue has different consequences, not only on a physical and psychological level, as we have already seen in the previous section, but also at the organizational level.
Mental fatigue has consequences on a personal, economic and material level.
A person with mental fatigue will perform worse, in addition to a greater number of errors at work. It can affect data analysis and decision making at work.
Due to mental exhaustion, occupational accidents can occur which could be avoided if the effects of mental fatigue are taken care of.
In addition, mental fatigue also has effects on the motivation of people, so that the greater the fatigue, the less motivation of the person.
Mental tiredness is also related to work absenteeism, specifically short-term absenteeism (lacking several hours or days to work without any physical pathology).
12 tips to combat mental fatigue
- Take breaks several times throughout your workday
One of the fundamental tips for dealing with mental fatigue, both to intervene when it has already happened and to prevent it, is to take breaks.
Many times the times are marked by the company; however, it is imperative that you take breaks or small breaks during your work day.
The most appropriate thing is that you could choose those breaks according to your needs and during that time you can truly disconnect from your work and routine. This is how it truly will be effective.
You should keep in mind that “going to the bathroom”, or sitting while waiting for a work phone call, for example, should not be considered a break from work. That is part of your basic needs or work.
The breaks should be time where you can truly disconnect and where you can dedicate to rest or does something that makes you feel good.
It would be appropriate to set rest periods of about 10 minutes every approximately 90 minutes of work, depending on the type of task performed by the person.
Many times pauses are made when tiredness has already appeared. A good alternative is to prevent them with pauses before it appears.
- Eat well
Another factor that must be addressed to cope with mental fatigue is good nutrition.
The role of food is really important. When we eat food in a disorderly way or do not eat a balanced diet, this can negatively affect our body and mind.
Our organism slows down when we notice deficiencies of nutrients necessary for its good functioning and lose strength, feeling tired and Faint.
It is not only important what you ingest, also the times and the way in which you do it. Eating irregularly or not chewing food well can affect you too: for example, heavy digestions.
- Do regular physical exercise
Moderate and regular exercise can also help prevent fatigue. The fact of having an active and non-sedentary life is a recommendation for anyone.
However, when the job is sedentary the recommendation is even more important.
When the person does not exercise, the muscles lose strength and the person feels more tired. When you perform physical exercise, that impacts on your energy.
Physical exercise is not only beneficial on a physical level, but also emotionally. Doing physical exercise helps overcome daily difficulties.
- Sleeps a sufficient number of hours to be rested
Both the way we feed ourselves and rest, sleep and regular physical exercise are factors that can help us to strengthen our resistance. If we do not pay attention to them, we can feel tired.
It is necessary to rest and sleep a suitable number of hours, about 7 or 8 hours, although there are individual differences, since some people can feel good with a lower number of hours and others may need some more.
- Uses relaxation techniques
There are different relaxations techniques that can help you cope with mental fatigue.
Relaxation techniques are methods that can help the person to reduce physical and mental tension, so that he reaches a calm and calm situation controlling anxiety and stress.
Training is required to be able to do this, but satisfactory results can be noticed on a daily basis.
There are different techniques for this; one of the best known worldwide is the technique of progressive muscle relaxation Jacobson, which is proposed alternating tension with distension.
Also Read: 5 Important Effects of Stress on Health
In this way, it is intended that the person is able to recognize the tension to be able to untangle it and end up feeling better.
- Dedicate yourself time
Spending time with oneself in the daily routine is something necessary that increases the well-being of the person.
We spend most of the day at work and that generates stress and sometimes the accomplishment of tasks that do not produce well-being in the person.
Spend some time each day to enjoy pleasant activities: listening to music, reading a book, being in touch with nature, a hobby, being with family or friends … All this can help to overcome tiredness and provide mental well-being.
- Mindfulness will help you to be in the present moment
Mindfulness or mindfulness is paying mindful attention to the present moment.
Thinking about “everything you have left to do” can influence your tiredness or mental exhaustion, in that “it does not give you time” or “you do not reach everything”, for example.
Mindfulness exercises will only take a few minutes a day and it would be advisable to try doing them several times a day. You can do it even at work, in those moments that you dedicate to rest.
Through Mindfulness it is intended that you learn to become aware of the present moment, without living in the past or in the future.
If you practice them, also breathing, you will achieve a state of well-being that can help you to find you better.
- Get organized and learn how to plan yourself
Planning and organizing tasks can be very beneficial to prevent mental fatigue.
Many times the mental fatigue appears because of the stress that generates the work and the day to day. For this, although the work is marked a few times and goals to be met, the person always has some room for maneuver.
To do this, use the agenda and set partial goals, short-term and easy to meet, so that you can get a quick feedback of your work to help you feel better.
The organization and planning allows the person to avoid the accumulation of tasks, which can then lead to excessive work and high levels of stress.
- Address the environmental conditions of work
Something as simple as lighting or noise can help mental fatigue.
For that reason, it is important that you take care of the conditions where you work. That you attend to the noise, the lighting, the temperature … and adapt, as far as possible, the workplace to be beneficial for you and do not hinder your work.
Using proper lighting and taking breaks from screens like computers is a must.
In addition, noise must also be addressed by avoiding mentally demanding tasks in places with excessive noise. If necessary, hearing protectors (egg plugs) should be worn.
It is also important that on working screens, position angles and furniture is adequate.
For example, take care of the distance you work, orient the screen well, establishes a 60 degree angle to work when you are sitting.
- Rest your eyesight
An important aspect to watch is the rest of the view. For example, when you finish the day, give it an exclusive time.
Make small massages, pressing your eyebrows with your index fingers and thumb with your eyes closed.
Visual fatigue is also quite frequent and accompanies mental fatigue. It is the answer that the eyes have for the excessive effort they make and can be eye symptoms such as tension and heaviness, itching or redness of the eyes and also visual, like blurred vision, seeing black shadows, etc.
- Rotation of posts and extension or change of tasks
In many cases this council cannot be carried out, but it is probable that in some works is possible.
Rotating jobs and expanding tasks to break the monotony of work would be a beneficial solution.
As in some cases this will not be possible, the person himself can alternate between the different tasks that he has to do throughout his working day.
- Adapt your work pace
Rest we have put it as one of the essential conditions to prevent and treat mental fatigue.
However, other alternatives that can also be taken into account are to adapt the pace of work. On some occasions it may not be possible because the time pressure to deliver the work is very great.
However, on other occasions it may be carried out. For example, you can check in more detail the work you do to prevent errors, to download the memory uses the phonebook, alarms or any other external help that helps you to remove it from the head.
You can also postpone those more critical tasks, either because you need many cognitive resources or because they make you very discouraged and choose those that are more pleasant or simple.