There are times in your life when you need to regain your mental energy. it’s not at your usual levels and you’re struggling to get your stuff done especially the creative or deep-thinking stuff.
3 Common Reasons for Low Mental Energy
Working too hard for too long: Keeping your nose to the grindstone without looking after your need for breaks, sleep, nutrition and physical exercise.
Stress and overwhelm: You do give yourself time away from the grindstone, but your brain is too active to take a break. This drains you and you can’t switch off and recharge.
Rust out: The opposite of the first two where burn out is the risk, rust out happens when you are not exercising your brain. You have no tasks for it that interest it or stretch it. This may happen after a long time without work or doing work that does not challenge you in any way.
Most of my clients suffer from one of the first two causes but rarely the third.
In my studies, I’ve come across the principle that the brain works in two different modes.
The first mode is the focus mode. This mode, as the name suggests, is when your brain is busy with just one task. This could be one big task or a series of shorter tasks.
The other mode is known as the diffuse mode. In this mode, your brain has more freedom to wander and think about things other than the task in hand. Diffuse mode is entered when you do tasks that don’t take a lot of mental energy or by totally switching off from tasks.
In diffuse mode, your brain is often able to make connections between several different and sometimes abstract concepts. This is one of the reasons why people say sleep on it, your brain goes away and thinks in the background or at a subconscious level. You’re not aware of this processing but somehow concepts come together, and you can see a way forward or a connection that helps you move on.
To regain mental energy, you need to balance the two brain modes. Being able to switch between focused mode and diffuse mode is important for brain health, or mental energy.
Too much time in focussed mode can lead to burn out, too much time in diffuse mode leads to rust out.
Regain Your Mental Energy with Diffuse Thinking
The biggie for diffuse mode thinking is sleep. Sleep supplies many benefits and getting enough sleep is vital to both mental and physical health.
Walking (or visualising a walk)
The left-right motion of walking is extremely helpful in getting your brain into the diffuse mode, going cycling is a valid alternative. Walking in nature is exceptionally good for mental energy and mood.
I recognise that currently going for long walks in nature is not the easiest thing for some people to do. You can compromise by having walking or cycling around your local area for up to an hour as the government suggests. This enables you to get the benefit of the left-right motion.
An alternative is to visualise as athletes do. Find some time to sit quietly, put on a soundtrack of birds tweeting, the wind blowing in trees or waves crashing upon the shoreline, whichever suits your ‘walk’. Close your eyes and visualise yourself taking the walk. Visualise the lay of the land, the feel of the breeze or the sun upon your face, the colour of the light, the smells and the sounds.
Choose a different relaxing task
Relaxing tasks or hobbies are helpful. One reason is that your brain gets involved in something else; it switches off from the stresses and strains of too much focus on daily tasks. Ideally, for diffuse mode, your alternative activity occupies enough of your brain as a distraction but does not stretch it too far draining more mental energy.
Find space in your day to do something that helps your brain move into diffuse mode. Swap around the options to see what works best for you. You don’t have to do them all every day but when you need to regain your mental energy look at these options and try to spend your time balanced between focussed and diffuse time.
Which of the above options appeals most to you as a way to regain your mental energy?
If you want help in achieving the right balance of self-care in your business and life and moving towards stress-free success book a free short exploratory chat.