6. Leaving off in the wrong spot
Thanks to things like time constraints and incessant interruptions, it’s not uncommon to find yourself setting aside half-completed tasks in order to deal with something urgent that’s come up or has to take priority.
A small piece of your attention is left with the unfinished task, known as attention residue.
When you experience attention residue, your brain is working overtime by thinking about the task you’re now on, as well as ruminating about the previous task you had to leave unfinished.
If you do have to stop work on a task prematurely, you can decrease the amount of attention residue by writing down the specifics of what’s left to finish. This can help decrease rumination and allow you to clear your mind.
"Poor posture can deplete your energy levels by putting more pressure on your body’s muscles, joints and ligaments,” said Naueen Safdar, medical director at EHE Health. “Your body has to use more energy to compensate, leading to fatigue.”
8. Taking shallow breaths
Even though breathing is thought of as an unconscious activity, we tend to breathe incorrectly when we have a lot on our mind.
"Shallow breathing reduces the amount of oxygen the body takes in and the amount that can be transported in the blood to our organs and cells for optimal function,” Naidoo said. It can also trigger pathways in the brain that exacerbate anxiety and trigger fatigue.
Any time you notice yourself feeling particularly tense or stressed, use that as your cue to take several deep breaths to combat shallow breathing.
9. Letting little tasks pile up
Texting someone back. Changing a lightbulb. Booking your pet’s wellness visit. The cumulative mental load of unintentionally stockpiling tiny tasks like these can be distracting and mentally draining.
"Even manageable duties start to feel overwhelming and suffocating due to their sheer number,” psychiatrist Tyson Lippe said.
“The constant and unsolicited ‘I should do task X’ thoughts also creates a sense of shame and buildup of anticipatory anxiety.”
Ideally, any task that takes less than five minutes should be done right away, as it’s the most energy-efficient option — but when this isn’t practical, don’t rely on memory.
"Immediately write it down on a to-do list,” Lippe said. “This strategy provides peace of mind and reassurance that it will be dealt with eventually.”
10. Not dimming the lights at night
Exposure to bright lights at night signals it’s still daytime to the brain. “This inhibits the brain’s release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone,” Lippe said. “This can disturb the sleep-wake cycle and lead to insomnia, poor sleep quality and fatigue.”