A lot of people face brain fatigue.
And for me, brain fatigue is one of the key signals, that indicates to me, I need a break. Not always a physical rest, necessarily, but a mental break.
Here are some of the things that seem to happen to me when I am suffering from brain fatigue.
1) I make errors that I would not normally make.
You know yourself, and you know the kinds of errors you usually make, and the types you don't. If you are someone who is a stickler for detail and you have found that the last couple of emails you sent out had a typo in an obvious place - like, erm, the subject heading - then it may be a sign that you have a spot of brain drain!
2) I forget things and lose things.
I swear this mysterious thing always happens to me when I am suffering brain fatigue and when I find the thing, I could swear on my life that I looked ten times in the same place in which I found it, and it was not there before! Is there a weird person that likes to break into my house and move things around? Or is this a case of me having too much on my mind and not seeing the forest for the trees?
3) It is harder to find the right words or I am scrambling for the right words.
I know this one is a sign of a more serious condition and I recommend that you always visit the doctor if you are worried, but sometimes I feel I am slowly losing my mind when I can't remember someone's name or am reaching for a common word that is right at the edge of my consciousness and I just can't think of it! I think this seems to happen when I have overused my brain and it is tired and, just like a knife that has lost some of its sharpness from over-use, so has my brain at this time. It needs to be sharpened up again.
4) It feels like I am digging deeper for ideas or inspiration.
This one is unpleasant for me as a creative, but it is annoying for everyone. I love the book The Artists Way, and if you are a person that needs to refuel your creativity regularly, then I recommend you read it. But, basically, the premise is that without refuelling our mind and cleansing it every day, we can get creatively exhausted and burned out. However, by making sure we are diligent about our mental health, we can be creative consistently, and not just in short bursts. So, having a lack of creativity is a sign for me that I need to go back to mental self-care and fill up my tank again, so I can pour outwards.
5) My brain actually feels tired. It feels like it is saying No to thinking.
This one feels like a block or barrier to thinking. At this point, I am in the serious red territory! When I am trying to think logically through an idea or concept from point A to point B, my mental car breaks down mid-way. I can't complete the thought. To put it simply, I can't think. So, as well as having a problem with following through with a logical thought, I also can't imagine anything visual either. If you ask me to imagine something, I struggle to bring it clearly to mind.
6) I crave creative inspiration and stimulus.
This is my higher, wiser self telling me I need to be mentally refreshed and fed. I am starving and I need to be nourished. I crave, for example, to listen to music or visit a gallery or touch beautiful and sensual fabrics or sit in nature. I need to be surrounded by creativity and sights and sounds. And usually, rather than it being in the form of words and books, which sometimes can overwhelm and clutter me even more, it is in the form of things that make me feel rather than think. This is the well we all draw on in life to produce something great: the experiential, the sensual, and the artistic.
7) I feel a need for a mental detox
Again, if we follow our intuition we always know how to heal ourselves, and, in the same way, I will naturally be led to desire a mental detox. Just as much as I crave outside creative and sensual stimulus and inspiration, I feel myself rejecting mental junk food, in the form of repetitive and mindless actions and the empty calories of Netflix and Youtube videos, in which I am not learning anything but just self-numbing.
So those are a few of my signs!
Maybe you can recognise a few of these signs and, if so, then by practising getting used to spotting the signs in advance of overload, you will be more able to know when to step back and give your mind a rest.
By the way, brain fatigue doesn't always mean that I am physically tired because I do tend to get a lot of sleep and rest.
And that is why it is such a tricky one to deal with and one we can have a tendency to ignore and just push through. It is why so many young, and otherwise fit, people can get burn-out.
Therefore, even if you feel no physical symptoms, get used to spotting signs of mental overload and brain fatigue that are specific for you, because, like with anything, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.