Are you a parent looking for tips on how to stop being mentally exhausted? Mental fatigue, and the physical symptoms that accompany it, are common when dealing with the lack of sleep and chronic stress that come along with being a parent. While there are things you can do to improve your energy levels, it is important to understand that this shall pass.
I observed my current appearance in the mirror and came to the conclusion that I must have aged 10 years since I last really looked at myself.
I didn’t necessarily look older per se.
My hair wasn’t really graying yet (although my hair dresser begs to differ). And my crows feet were the only real wrinkles on my face.
But I looked old. No, not old. Tired. Mentally exhausted to be exact.
Of course I feel mentally exhausted. My daughter was struggling with math class (should I get her a tutor?), my older son had baseball AND wrestling practice last night, and my younger son was invited to three birthday parties I had to shop for.
The feeling of overwhelm lead me to eat an entire brick of sharp cheddar cheese before bed which I am regretting now, too.
Mental exhaustion was hitting me hard this morning, but then I thought of something my oldest son told me about flamingos.
Yes, flamingos. You may wonder what any of this has to do with flamingos, but I will tell you.
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What Can Flamingo Parents Teach Us About our Emotional State?
My science-loving son came home excited to tell us all about flamingos.
He told us that the pinker the flamingo, the healthier it is (because color comes from their diet).
Then, he informed us that they actually can lose their pink pigments while raising chicks. Raising little ones is so intensive and draining that it literally causes them to lose their color. (I confirmed it here!)
When their chicks grow up, the flamingos’ color returns to normal.
Although humans don’t literally lose their color, we experience other emotional and physical symptoms. In fact, mental and physical health are greatly impacted during stressful times.
Hence my puffy eyes, tangled hair, and need for a block of cheese before bed.
5 Symptoms of Mental Exhaustion
If your wondering how to stop being mentally exhausted, it’s important to first identify what is the issue at hand.
These are 5 common symptoms of mental exhaustion:
Can’t remember what you had for dinner yesterday or what activities your kid has tonight? Feeling totally spaced out?
That slow, sluggish feeling may be brain fog. Brain fog is a symptom of long-term stress and sensory overload, which leads to mental exhaustion.
If you feel that it is great mental strain to complete simply tasks then you may have brain fog.
You got a full 8 hours of sleep, but you can hardly get out of bed.
Being mentally exhausted can have a negative effect on your ability to do daily activities. There is a lack of motivation to get things done that usually didn’t bother you.
Physical exhaustion is common when your lacking mental energy drags you down.
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Short-tempered and Irritable
As parents, burn out greatly impacts our emotional health.
It can lead cause you to easily lose your temper, cry, or feel anxious. If you notice that you have a short fuse you may be struggling with mental exhaustion.
You may notice other related medical conditions arise, such as anxiety and depression.
Seek professional help if you think you may be suffering from anxiety or depression or it is impacting your personal life or family life.
Learn the difference between a calm parent and an explosive parent here.
Immune system issues
Are you getting sick more than usual? It could be due to long-term stress from negative thoughts.
Studies show that stress can actually reduce the number of immune cells (natural killer cells or lymphocytes to be exact) in the body, which are needed to fight infections.
Also, chronic stress can produce higher-than-normal levels of the hormone cortisol, which can hamper the body’s anti-inflammatory response and cause continual infections.
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Social Life Withdrawl
I am typically a very social person. I know when I am approaching red alert levels of mental exhaustion when I start to pull away from friends.
When you are in a poor state of mind, family members may notice that you are avoiding social events or places where you know you will have to interact with others (also known as social isolation).
How to Stop Being Mentally Exhausted
If the flamingo taught us anything, it is that it is normal to feel drained. And you will get your color back.
Your kids are only young for a short period of time.
But while raising young children (or chicks) is an amazing experience, it has it’s challenges. And simply telling yourself to “feel better” isn’t always a strong enough therapy.
This 5 Step Method is the best way to battle mental fatigue so that you can be there for your children:
1) Engage in Mindfulness Practices
Mindfulness is a big fancy word to describe living in the present moment.
In other words, taking time to clear the mind and not think about what went wrong yesterday or what you have to do the next day.
There are simple activities and exercises you can do to slow down your brain – start with these mindfulness activities.
Another great option is to start a gratitude journal, where you document why you are so lucky to be you.
2) Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing and can lead to symptoms of burnout.
Whether you can fit in quick power naps or make sure you get to bed in time to get enough sleep, it is important to prioritize rest.
At the end of the day, give yourself some down time and get to bed at an appropriate time (Netflix will be there tomorrow!)
3) Work Physical Activity into Your Daily Routine
It sounds crazy to increase your physical activity when you feel like you can’t even gather the energy to function.
However, exercise releases endorphins- or hormones that reduce pain and boost pleasure, creating a general feeling of well-being and positivity.
One study found that 90% of people who completed a regular exercise program reported improved fatigue compared to those who did not exercise. instead.
4) Turn off Social Media
You don’t need to see that Tommy’s mom started another side hustle or Sally’s Dad brought her family on an exotic two week cruise.
If you are suffering from mental exhaustion, take a break from social media.
5) Focus on a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy diet can actually stimulate “good feeling” chemicals in your brain: dopamine and norepinephrine.
Protein consumption has been linked to higher levels of these chemicals that play a role in your mood, motivation and concentration.
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. This nourishes the body and can also boost happiness.
Raising older kids? Learn why it’s normal to feel lonely when your kids grow up.
Final Thoughts on How to Stop Being Mentally Exhausted
Just like the flamingo who regained her color after raising her chicks. The mental fatigue and blur that comes with raising tiny creatures is only temporary.
For now, work on being present and happy for your children with these 5 effective tips.
I guarantee, we will all get our energy and spark back. We will be “pink” again.
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