Tiredness: Is it physical or mental?
Tiredness can be understood in terms of it two broad categories, physical tiredness and mental tiredness. The actual experience of the two is exactly the same and sometimes it is difficult to differentiate between the two, and we end up misunderstanding mental tiredness as physical one. Tiredness can result from overwork, suffering from a physical illness or it can also result from low moods. We feel tired not just when we are emotionally upset but also when excited about something.
If you don’t suffer from a physical illness that can explain tiredness and feel tired even after resting for several hours this is probably related to deep unconscious emotions.
Some people feel tired first thing in the morning which is difficult to explain on the basis of physical causes, as the body is good at neutralising the effects of overwork from previous day during sleep.
We don’t know how our bodies undo our tiredness but we do know what to do or not to do in order to get rid of the tiredness. For physical tiredness we stop the physical activity and put our bodies in a resting position which helps; the same principle applies to the mind as well – if we can stop mental actions emotional tiredness can be undone. However, it is very difficult to know what exactly to do or not to do to stop mental actions. The mind keeps ticking all the time and it is very difficult to switch off the engine of the mind. However, the following things can be attempted:
1. Judging less as judgements are the actions of the mind and to give rest to the mind it is best done by stopping its actions.
2. Switching attention from thoughts and emotions to perception such as awareness of one’s breath or paying more attention to the sounds, vision, smell in our vicinity without making any judgements.
3. Seeking solitude to minimise stimulation of the mind. Start observing things instead of trying to understand them for short periods of time.
Sometimes the tiredness is specific to a task and not general; we feel tired for a particular kind of activity but can be quite enthused for another type of activity. Hence, switching activities can be helpful.
It is also important to prevent tiredness rather than allowing ourselves to feel tired and then trying to undo it. In this context taking breaks i.e. micro, mini and mega breaks can be helpful.
Micro breaks are for about thirty seconds to a minute and it’s desirable to take such breaks after every ten to fifteen minutes. There is no need to stop or get out of what one is doing; a shift in posture, deep breath, facial rub, rotating shoulders, shifting gaze can work.
Mini breaks are for about five to ten minutes which can be taken after every hour to hour and a half wherein we get up from where we are doing and move about, open the window, use washroom facility, drink water, indulge in small talk with people around us.
Mega breaks are for the duration of fifteen to forty five minutes and should be taken every three to four hours. One should move out of the work environment, take a short walk, have a snack or a drink, read something totally unrelated to one’s work etc.
At times tiredness is hidden – you don’t feel it when out an about but realise it’s there during periods of rest. This means you were operating from the superficial layers of consciousness and were disconnected from your body for short periods to time. Staying connected with our bodies can be the solution.