Do you have mental fatigue? How to recognize it and avoid its effects on health

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It is an increasingly frequent state, derived from the effort made to adapt to the new routines imposed by the pandemic.

More than nine months ago, the world changed. It had to adapt to protect itself from the new coronavirus, which does not stop its advance and which has caused some 30 million cases and almost a million deaths since then. In Argentina, it became a “real” problem in March, with its local landing. Since then, the routines of its inhabitants were altered, which implied – and still implies – a remarkable effort which in many cases produces signs of fatigue.

“At the beginning we have made a great effort to adapt daily personal, work, and parental activities. Suddenly we find ourselves at home all day, working, studying, exercising, interacting with others. In the short term, this allowed us to adapt to new circumstances, but our resources are limited and, in the face of sustained demand over time, we start to feel exhausted“, says Pablo López, psychologist and academic director of the INECO Foundation, who maintains that this situation represents a new stressful environment.

According to the specialist, the initial fear of the disease was giving way to fatigue, intolerance to uncertainty, concern for financial problems and boredom.

What is fatigue? A state of fatigue, loss of interest and motivation, which includes difficulties in attention and concentration and which is accompanied by a decline in mood and satisfaction, defines López.

That mental fatigue, according to the professional, has an impact on the personal, social and work level of people and can lead to “muscle aches, headaches, anguish, sustained memory difficulties and non-restorative sleep as well as making us prone to problems of mental and physical health in the medium term “.

Regarding the causes, the academic director of the Institute of Cognitive Neurology says that fatigue, in part, is a consequence of sustained effort and the changes it produced in the three pillars of health: physical exercise, sleep stability and diet. healthy. As in a vicious circleWhen fatigue sets in, the alterations in these three pillars are further exacerbated.

“Studies indicate that a lack of recreational exercise is associated with fatigue. Changes in routines and a need for heightened self-discipline may have made it difficult to find the time or energy to exercise. But at the same time, the lack of exercise could lead to muscle aches, a deterioration of health and well-being, issues that are directly associated with fatigue, “he says.

Poor nutrition is another factor that contributes to this state. “Likewise, fatigue is associated with increased alcohol consumption. Conversely, increased consumption of alcohol, a depressant of the nervous system, could be a consequence of fatigue and mental tension. Boredom and stress are threats that could lead to lose the usual pattern and adopt bad habits, such as overeating or snacking“, Explain.

Sleep is another of the pillars that is severely affected. “Although studies describe an increase in hours spent sleeping, the quality of sleep has been impaired. The presence of nightmares, vivid dreams and changes in sleep schedules have affected the restorative function of sleep. “

According to López, it is necessary to face “a reorganization of habits to restore the three most important pieces of our health: food, physical exercise and good sleep.”

The professional advises “to regulate sleep schedules as much as possible, also establishing clear and pre-established rest spaces during the day.” In addition to “trying to get the overwhelming ideas out of the mind and look for concrete actions to modify them, or even notice them and then think about them and share them with someone“.

He also mentioned not to confuse physical and social or emotional distancing and to resort to meditation techniques “that allow some emotional regulation, anxiety reduction and cognitive improvement.”

Given that the pandemic will last for a longer time, it is also key to manage resources in the quest to recover “the backbone of well-being.” “The temptation could be to do it quickly. Paradoxically, this would lead to further fatigue. The recovery of the pillars must be progressiveOtherwise, healthier habits can become a source of stress and lack of gratification, “he concluded.

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