1. Watching emotionally charged television shows
One of the ways binge-watching emotionally charged TV shows can lead to mental exhaustion is through temporarily imagining yourself experiencing the same feelings and events of a specific character.
In excess, however, sustained high-intensity emotions, positive or negative, can result in a state of heightened arousal and overstimulation, ultimately leading to mental fatigue, difficulty focusing and poor energy levels.
2. Waiting too long between meals
The body scores energy from the foods we eat, and relies on a steady supply of it. This backup energy supply only lasts about three to six hours, so going too long without food sets off biological and psychological mechanisms that turn on our eating drive — usually, this can lead to strong cravings for processed carbs, which are foods with a high-glycemic load.
"As we eat more carbs, especially simple ones, our insulin levels climb,” nutritional psychologist Uma Naidoo said. “Once our insulin levels peak after eating, our blood sugar can subsequently crash and lead to a distinct feeling of being physically drained.”
3. Working at a messy desk
Working in a cluttered environment may increase distractibility and inattentiveness. The result? Tasks take longer to complete, requiring you to use up more mental focus and energy over time.
4. Planning too far in advance
Being constantly exposed to a full calendar of obligations can cause an uptick in anticipatory anxiety and adversely affect working memory and processing speed.
This can impede your ability to remain mindful and efficiently complete tasks in the moment, resulting in poor motivation and mental exhaustion.
5. Having too many tabs open
Not only are you overwhelming your laptop’s battery by having 25 tabs open, you’re putting your brain into overdrive too.
"Bouncing from tab to tab gives your ego the misconception you’re getting an incredible amount of work done,” said Rana Mafee, chief neurologist at Case Integrative Health in Chicago. “In reality, you’re not fully processing anything you’re trying to efficiently consume.”