Dealing with mental fatigue throughout the week
June 5, 2014 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I usually start off the week with a lot of energy and ready to go. But by Wednesday, I feel mentally fatigued, lacking motivation, prone to procrastination, unable to focus creatively. The worst part is that I really need the energy to push through to Friday deadlines. Do you have any tips or advice to deal with this?

I am fairly young, healthy, exercise moderately and eat pretty well. I don't think there are necessarily any physical disorders that are causing this, just normal mental tiredness.
posted by roaring beast to Work & Money (14 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
How much coffee do you drink? When I cut out the coffee (and after the 3-4d fatigue) then I have SO much energy.

Have something relaxing (or energizing) planned for Wednesday night. Go to bed early.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:17 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have the same routine each day? Are you pacing yourself throughout the week?

Is there anything you can do midweek to give yourself a break: a different lunch spot or something, just to recharge your batteries?
posted by RainyJay at 2:18 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

What are your sleeping habits like? How exercise? Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle? What's your diet like? Male or female?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:18 PM on June 5, 2014

What does Exercise moderately? A standard (probably daily) exercise routine would likely help.
posted by bitdamaged at 2:19 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Exercise is good - and it doesn't have to be strenuous. Just being able to step out of the office for a few minutes' walk around the block can do wonders for your mental (and physical) health.

Diet - cutting out sugary food and white carbs has done wonders for my mental and physical stamina. Processed carbs make your blood sugar spike and crash and that affects your energy and concentration. If you want a snack, something like a handful of pumpkin seeds or almonds will give you a better energy pick-up than chips or a muffin. And drink enough water to keep yourself from getting dehydrated. Dehydration can be mistaken for fatigue or hunger pangs.

Do you get any breaks at work? Are there any opportunities for you to stop and take a breather just for five minutes every few hours? Are you heavily micromanaged and pressured? When I'm in an environment where I must keep my nose to the grindstone all day, with no let-up, and I'm micromanaged and heavily pressured and have a boss/es breathing down my neck every minute, I'm exhausted by mid-week, and by Friday I'm a shell of a person. If that is your environment and there is no light at the end of the tunnel (it's not a dues-paying phase or a crunch time, it is and will be the same every single day) then it might be that your job is not sustainable.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:32 PM on June 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

Weekly massages (or manicures) Wednesday after work.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 2:33 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

this is the standard complaint of every working person in america, and it's a function of our five days on/two days off culture, and it has nothing to do with you, and you're not the first person to notice it.
posted by bruce at 2:34 PM on June 5, 2014 [10 favorites]

bruce has it. This is your life now--embrace it or learn to live outside the box. I wish this didn't sound mean because I'm totally on your side! Being a real live adult is just not ideal, even though lots of parts are cool. Go to bed on time every night, orrrrr decide that waking hours are better than sleeping ones and just power through. Sorry!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 3:36 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Are you getting enough sleep, every night? A lot of people think they'll be fine getting four hours of sleep per night, or that if they're short-changing themselves on sleep, they can make up for it on the weekend. This isn't really true. Most people need 6-8 hours of sleep every night, and you will do best if you got to bed at the same time every evening and get up at the same time every morning—even on weekends.
posted by BrashTech at 3:45 PM on June 5, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas so far -

I realize that most people go through this, but it has been a bit worse lately. Productivity has really been down. Maybe just a sign of getting a little older - not as much energy.

I don't drink coffee or sodas.

I usually get 7-8 hours of sleep, but not always at consistent times. So that could be an area of improvement.

I exercise a few times a week, but maybe that's not enough.

I like the idea of doing something more refreshing on Wednesday nights. That could be a starting point.
posted by roaring beast at 5:39 PM on June 5, 2014

A fun physical activity involving cardio, preferably outside, helps a lot for me. Must be fun, not just exercise, such as dance class, improv class, intramural sports, long walk home instead of the bus, etc.

Midweek social activities are good too for breaking up the week, like a standing dinner/movie night/craft night with friends, finding a bar that shows the weekly show I like, etc. If you're partnered, a regular date night.

Biking to work makes a big difference for me in general.
posted by susanvance at 6:22 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding susanvance regarding a long walk - how about packing some comfortable walking shoes, maybe a bottle of water and a hat and going straight from work for a long Wednesday night walk, terminating at some place like Chipotle's for a dining out treat? (Or - maybe not Chipotle's, but whatever it is you're into!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:28 PM on June 5, 2014

So, I have a lot of trouble getting to sleep before midnight.
If it's not midnight, it has to be 4-5 hours before then -
There's actually research that shows the couple of hours before your normal bedtime is when you kind of try to resist your own sleepiness the most, body clock versus accumulated sleep debt, basically.

Anyway, often on a Wednesday (especially when I had stupid-early work, so was only getting 5-6 hours a night), I just had that as my recovery night, nothing planned, get home, eat a snack-meal thing, and go straight to bed before 8pm. I'd then essentially have a midweek sleepin, and wake up early for work.

Don't underestimate the restorative power of sleep. Or if not sleep, then, nothing. Lying with your eyes closed, doing and thinking as little as possible.
posted by Elysum at 9:23 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get a sleep study done. 7-8 hours of poor sleep is not enough; 7-8 hours of good sleep might be.
posted by flabdablet at 4:08 AM on June 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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