Mentally Fatigued? How to Keep Your Mind Fresh

About Angela Berenstein

Angela Berenstein (@EnergyBudget) is on a mission to help people find more pep and vigor in their life by learning how to manage their energy levels. Get instant access to 60 sure fire instant energy boosters to refresh yourself at work for FREE by clicking HERE.

The deadline is near. You still have loads to do.

You’re exhausted, but you must push through the fatigue and get the work done. Now.

Trouble is, you’ve already been at it for hours. It takes longer and longer to do anything.

How you are going to get your commitments done on time when your mind is no longer fresh?

And this is making you feel even more stressed.

It doesn’t have to be this way…

You need to rest your mind

Resting your mind does not always mean sleep. Some people sleep enough hours each night, yet wake up feeling groggy and unable to think clearly.
mind freshYour mind always in one of these 4 states: asleep, dreaming, awake, or meditative.
Body is at rest
Mind is at rest
Asleep

Yes

Yes

Dreaming

Yes

No

Awake

No

No

Meditative*
No

Yes

*Note: even if your body is in a sitting meditative pose, your body works to sustain that position

Your mind is active when you are dreaming or awake.

 

So, there are two ways in which you can rest your mind

  1. a meditative technique (shown below)
  2. improve the quality of your sleep

How to rest your mind while your body is active

The key to resting your mind while your body is active is to eliminate all thought and all distraction. This technique is a great way to quickly freshen your mind when you have a deadline approaching.

Here is the technique:

Go to a quiet place where you can sit and be undisturbed for a few minutes. If you are at work, you can always go sit on a toilet. No one will bother you there. Well, hopefully.

Exercise 1:


Close your eyes.

Sit with an upright spine.

Put 100% attention on your breath. (No thoughts, no inner dialog.)

Notice the exact spot where the exhale turns into the inhale.

Sense your eyes relax and roll back into their sockets.

You may notice a sense of calm and space. Open your eyes. Sustain this mental space as you return to your task.

To get the most out of this exercise, you should have no thoughts. This next exercise will make you aware of your inner dialog, and help you to condition yourself to think less while your intention is to rest your mind.

Exercise 2:


Set a timer for 2 minutes.

Do exercise 1, but this time count the number of breaths. Every time you have any thought that is not counting the number of breaths, start over.

When the timer rings, what number did you reach?

This exercise will tell you how much chatter is going on in your mind at any time. It is common to have a low number the first time.

The more you practice this, the more you will condition your mind to quiet down. This will keep your mind fresh and open to a flow of ideas.

So that was a short-term mind refresher. When you have more than a couple of minutes, you can improve the quality of your sleep.

Improve the quality of your sleep.

Sleeping for many hours is not enough to wake up with a fresh mind. What matters is the quality of sleep.

When you dream, your mind is active.

Your mind rests when your body is at rest and you are not dreaming.

If you regularly wake up feeling groggy, you are not spending enough time in the deep sleep stages where your mind can rest.

Your turn now: I’m curious, what techniques have worked for you to keep your mind fresh?

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Some Amazing Comments

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Comments

  1. Hi Angela,
    I am so frazzled right now, it is so crazy. I need a serious mental break. This article came at a great time. I love the exercises you suggested. I just tried the first one and it was amazing. I knew about concentrating on your breath as a way to relax and restore, but I didn’t know about the eye technique. I will be definitely doing this several times through the day, as I hae a lot going on.

    Thanks for the tips on improving the quality of sleep. I need that right now too. I never heard of using a light box as a sleep aid. Very interesting! But it makes sense, since the vitamins we get from light are so essential. Thanks for the tips.

    • Lisa, your comment made my day!

      If you’d like to go deeper with getting restorative sleep, I offer a FREE restorative sleep toolkit here:

      http://www.theenergybudget.com/start-here

      The restorative sleep project really helped me, so I put this together so that I can pass it along to help others. If you do decide to use it and test it, I’d love to know how it works for you!

      Happiness, Angela

  2. When I go out in nature, even for just a short time, my mind is refreshed. I either walk or I sit on a bench in a pretty setting. I bring a notebook and pen, and when fresh thoughts come to me, I write them down.
    Susan Ekins recently posted..Using Our Talents

    • Thank you for reaching out, Susan!

      That is so true!

      I feel so connected when I go out in nature. The pace of the natural world (I like to call it “natural time”) clears my thoughts, leaving my mind refreshed.

      This is a great reminder to us all that we need to go out and get a little sunshine and gentle wind kiss today. (Or, even a rain kiss, if that’s what you’re experiencing!)
      :)
      Angela Berenstein recently posted..The beginner’s guide to letting go

  3. I hypnotize myself. When in hypnosis for just a few minutes it feels like you have had a full eight hours sleep. Amazing and recommended. There are lots of books out there to teach self hypnosis. Do not believe the hype it is completely safe!!

  4. Exercise 1 is the exact technique I use for myself and also with clients. It works just fine for almost everyone I’ve tried it on. Everything from stopping a migraine headache for one client to dramatically stopping withdrawal symptoms (with 20 minutes) for a chaotic heroin user.
    Marty recently posted..Your Attitude Determines Your Survival

    • Hi Marty,

      Seriously? That’s AMAZING!
      :)
      I knew the technique is good, I didn’t realize that it was so versatile. Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing that! I will definitely use it if I have withdrawal headaches from quitting coffee this week. (Time for me to back off of the bean juice a bit.)
      :)

      Happiness, Angela
      Angela Berenstein recently posted..The beginner’s guide to letting go

  5. Meditation seems to have caught a bit of traction these last few years, I can see why! It works wonders for me, Even just taking a moment to breathe deeply helps – anything to give you a slight break. Oh, I also recently learned about the Pomodoro technique which is basically cycling your work into spurts of focused work with short breaks, ever since I got that I’ve been steaming on!

    Some great insights, and that first sleep tracking app looks very useful! :)

    • Thank you, Nick!

      So true…I know of several people who tend to hold their breath. Focusing on deep breathing is a great way to recenter the body and mind.

      Thank you for the Pomodoro recommendation. You are the 2nd commenter to recommend it. It must be really good. I’m DEFINITELY going to test it!
      :)

      Happiness, Angela

  6. Great article, Angela!
    I am so happy I am not the only person meditating on the toilet! I just started recently, and since i am new and inexperienced in meditation yet, I opted for guided meditation, but I really needed something that would let me start to practice on my own and the exercises are great because i can actually measure my own progress:) Pretty neat-)
    Alena recently posted..4 ways to feel happier NOW.

  7. Hi Angela,

    For me it also works to take take a very short break, but do something I love. I typically listen to one of my favorite songs, take a breath of fresh air and i feel renewed.

    Cool tips, thanks!
    Cornelius
    P.S. I checked you blog. I love the clean design and I’ll set some time aside to go through the articles. ;)
    Cornelius recently posted..101 Tips To Cope With Stress

    • Thank you for reaching out and for the complement, Cornelius!
      :)

      Music and fresh air can be a purely magical cocktail for freshening the mind and body. Thank you for sharing!

      How frequently do you take breaks? What signals does your body send to you that it is time for you to take a break?
      Angela Berenstein recently posted..The beginner’s guide to letting go

      • I strive to apply the Pomodoro Technique, which means 5 minutes break for every 25 minutes of activity, then a bigger break after a few Pomodoros.

        However, I must admit I’m not applying this consistently yet :)

        In reality I take a 10-15 minute break every hour or so. But I really plan on implementing this Pomodoro technique consistently, as it works amazingly well in terms of productivity.
        Cornelius recently posted..How To Push Your Limits And Think Big

  8. Thank you for your insightful comment, Chris!

    I appreciate your sharing what you do on the first exercise. Your comment adds much needed clarity to it.

    I agree. It’s important to not judge the thoughts, or interfere with them. Just to receive, notice the thought(s), and to let them go. Sort of Aikido-like…let it just come and boomerang out.

    Although getting to a meditative space without thought is the ideal, it takes a lot of time and practice to get there. The practice is exactly what you suggest: to simply notice what comes, and to not be attached to the thought. To simply let it go.

    Do you suggest techniques to your clients for letting thoughts go? I use intention, however, I would love to learn from your experience if there is another useful method.
    Angela Berenstein recently posted..The beginner’s guide to letting go

  9. Hi Angela,

    I appreciate your article. I was just speaking to a client about the affects of the constant diluge of information in today’s world, and the need to unplug even if for a few minutes each day. The exercises you provide are very useful. I have a 10 second re-centering exercise I use regularly throughout the day that is similar to your first exercise. I also meditate twice daily as well.

    The only difference that I notice is that I do not try to eliminate or minimize my thoughts when I meditate. I find that to be a source of stress in itself. Instead, I try to acknowledge thoughts as the emerge into my consciousness, and then gently let them go.

    There are many forms of meditation, and what works for some may not work for others. Thanks for sharing your methods. I am certain they will help many people, and they also provide a different perspective for my practice as well.

    Chris
    Chris Akins recently posted..Supercharge your personal evolution!!

  10. Very interesting, Angela! The meditation tips, both one and two, are exactly the methods I took from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on Mindfulness. I find that the counting breaths is the one that really engages me in mindful breathing because it forces me to not only focus on just breathing, but the counting adds a whole new dynamic to it that makes it easier to focus on breathing.

    I’ve never really tried those alarms that you put on your bed before. I’m skeptical of their accuracy across the board. I’ve tried them once but didn’t seem to get much from the graphs in the apps.
    Vincent Nguyen recently posted..The Value of Bantering

    • Thank you for the recommendation on that book, Vincent!

      Do you mean this book?

      Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

      I recently borrowed my first book from Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Heart of Understanding.” I just started it. Thank you for the inspiration on which book to choose next!

      Great point on the app. I was skeptical, too. So much in fact, that I called a friend of mine who works at the UCSD Sleep Lab and asked, “Can this really work? How accurate are these things?”

      Here’s how the sleep app works:
      If you wake up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle, you feel groggy, like you haven’t slept enough.

      All of the sleep apps can tell whether you are in a deep sleep cycle. All apps allow you to set a window of time that is flexible.

      So these apps will wake you up when you have just finished a deep sleep cycle and before you begin another one, leaving you feeling refreshed.

      I have personally used all of the apps available. They all work pretty much the same. The Sleep Time app will play soothing sounds (I like the gentle lapping waves) as you go to sleep.

      Other than that, the main difference is how they present the information to you. That is, how pretty it looks when they give you the information.

      How can these apps know what stage of sleep I am in if I am not even touching the phone?

      These apps use the accelerometer on a smart phone to measure your movements.

      When you are in a deep sleep, your body doesn’t move, so the phone (in your bed) doesn’t track any motion. Your body moves differently in different stages of sleep.

      These apps are 86% accurate in mapping your sleep cycles (deep sleep, REM, etc.) It’s generally good enough to get an idea of how much restorative sleep that you are getting each night.

      In special cases, though, a more accurate measurement is better. It just depends on how much information you need.

      :)
      Angela Berenstein recently posted..The beginner’s guide to letting go

  11. Thank you, Trevor!

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pull the “meditate on the toilet” technique during a busy day at work——it totally helps me to focus.

    :)

  12. This post was worth reading just for the image of someone meditating on the toilet at work. That’s the best!

    But I find the whole “Body at rest/Mind at rest” concept pretty interesting. I’ve never thought about it that way before. Very cool perspective.

    Thanks for the insight.

    Cheers!
    Trevor recently posted..The Secret to Achieve Anything You Want . . . and the Surprising Way I Discovered it.

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