Mental vs. Physical Fatigue

by Jordan S. 2 min read

Woman with cup raised, head on table next to computer

How to tell the difference between mental exhaustion and physical fatigue, and what you can do to regain your energy.

Is it physical fatigue that keeps you lying in bed trying to muster the energy to go to work, or mental exhaustion that has you feeling foggy throughout the day? 

Both types of fatigue can leave you feeling tired and wanting to crawl back in bed, but understanding which exhaustion your body is experiencing is key to recharging and finding your energy again.

Physical Fatigue

Physical fatigue, or physical exhaustion, can be caused by residual poor sleep or overexerting yourself with physical activities or exercise. You might not even notice that your sleep is lacking, but if you still feel tired after eight or more hours of rest, it’s worth investigating.

Another clue of physical fatigue is feeling extremely tired in the middle of the day. It’s normal to have a dip in energy after lunch and before the end of the work day, but if you feel like you’re having a hard time thinking, or are falling asleep in the afternoon, that could be a sign of physical exhaustion.

What physical fatigue feels like:

  • Constant Sleepiness
  • Physical Heaviness
  • Perpetual Tiredness

What it’s caused by:

  • Lack of Sleep
  • Overexertion
  • Overtraining
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Sleep Condition

How to recharge and prevent physical fatigue:

  • Get regular and consistent sleep with a sleep schedule
  • Reduce late-in-the-day caffeine
  • Exercise in healthy amounts and allow proper rest between workouts
  • See a doctor if there’s no apparent cause of your lack of sleep to try and identify a possible underlying cause

Mental Fatigue

Just like physical activity, intense and prolonged mental activity is exhausting, too. Mental fatigue is normal when you’ve just had a series of intense studying or a demanding work project, but when mental fatigue hands around for several days or more after completing a mentally-exhausting task, or if you find yourself feeling foggy and unmotivated for an extended period of time, you might need a little extra TLC to get back on track before your mental fatigue becomes more serious.

What mental fatigue feels like:

  • Difficulty Completing Regular Tasks / Making Decisions
  • Lack of Motivation
  • Difficulty Focusing
  • Mental Fogginess

What it’s caused by:

  • Constant Stress
  • Working Without Breaks
  • Chronic Pain or Health Conditions
  • Lack of Sleep

How to recharge and prevent mental fatigue:

  • Take regular breaks when you’re working on a project to diversify your mental tasks and give your brain a break
  • Take time to rest between long work days or major projects
  • Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques to find and maintain balance during challenging times
  • Seek professional help to cope with constant stress, emotional drains, or trauma that may be draining your mental capacity

Staying in Balance

Different seasons require different resources from our energy stores, and while these recharging tips are helpful to get back into balance, maintaining your own balance by trying to prevent exhaustion is the best way to preemptively win the battle against both physical and mental fatigue.

Alaya Naturals Blog and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on the Alaya Naturals Blog is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.