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Health

Mental resets require personalized solutions

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In today’s information society, “mental fatigue” can be as common as physical fatigue. As such, just as the body needs rest, so too does the mind, according to an author and researcher.

Alice Boyes, a former clinical psychologist and researcher turned writer, joined “Take Care” to talk about her work and how to best recharge.

Boyes, who authored “The Healthy Mind Toolkit” and “The Anxiety Toolkit,” said knowing when a mental reset is needed is all about paying attention to individualized signs. For example, a sign of burnout might be when everyday tasks become too much or when doing one more thing seems too overwhelming to accomplish.

“We are just really mentally overloaded and feeling really burnt out,” she said.

Causes of mental fatigue vary from person to person, but overall, Boyes said much of it boils down to stress, whether from a sudden life change or other smaller sources. Making too many decisions in one day can be a contributor, too, she said.

“Often, it’s a bunch of things building on each other that ends up eventually overwhelming the person,” Boyes said.

Sleep and rest are easy answers to physical fatigue, but combating mental fatigue requires a more personal solution. You have to discover what helps you, and sometimes, that discovery happens quite by accident, Boyes said.

Some of the best ways to combat mental fatigue are taking a break and doing tasks that have been put off for a while. Boyes said this helps the mind feel less overwhelmed.

“Sometimes, a really good thing to do is take a mental health day or take some time to abandon what’s on your life priority list and do something that’s you,” Boyes said.

Avoiding technology can be another solution, but, like any solution, it needs to be tailored to the person, Boyes said. Some work better with absolute silence and technology isolation, while some can benefit from listening to calming music or a podcast while mentally recharging.

“You just have to play around with that a little bit and figure out what you need at the time,” Boyes said.

To avoid mental fatigue in the first place, Boyes said some of the best practices include cutting down on decision-making. Having routines in place and utilizing rules of thumb to either eliminate decisions or make them easier can help keep the mind from feeling overworked, she said.

Knowing one’s patterns is key to figuring out what precautions work for each person, Boyes said. For many, it is common to put off something they have to do, causing the decision to pop up in their mind and overwhelm them unnecessarily.

“One of the things that’s quite common is where you’ll put off a decision ... or you put off something you need to do, and it will keep on revisiting you until you do it,” Boyes said.

In general, exercise, a healthy diet and a consistent sleep schedule are good for anyone to try. Taking it easy, getting an early night and taking four-day weekends can also be effective. Boyes shared a solution that works for her:

“One of my absolute favorites is to take a break from doing just one more thing,” she said.

Ultimately, it is all about finding one’s own balance, she said.

“People really need personalized solutions,” Boyes said. “A lot of people get fed up about hearing the same-old, same-old. … There are personalized solutions that you can come up with if you really know your[self] well.”