Overcoming mental fatigue while working from home in the current times

by Aripriya Basu December 24, 2020
mental fatigue

“It is just for a few days. It will get over soon”, thought Amanda as she logged onto her system while working from home. 

Little did she know that it is going to last for the next seven months and more. 

Now she is suffering from mental fatigue.

If you can relate to Amanda that’s because you are sailing on the same boat. 

All of us are Amanda right now, honestly. 

This new normal work from home lifestyle will take some more time to become the old normal.

But right now, we have to deal with mental fatigue. 

“Pish posh! I am not suffering from mental fatigue” thought Amanda…

 but she is suffering from:

  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy and motivation

So, if you are suffering from any of these tell-tale signs, you are going through emotional exhaustion.

Don’t wish it away like her. Problems, especially mental issues, don’t just vanish like smoke. 

You need to take some action. 

Luckily, there are a few things you can try. 

So, let’s get on with the tried and tested ways to deal with mental fatigue.  

  • Switch to phone calls instead of video calls

Conference calls over Zoom And Google Meet have become as common as dirt in this neo normal life. 

Every day you freshen up your face, run your fingers through your hair, and put on a crisp shirt over your pajamas to prepare for your con-call. 

While this keeps the operations running like old times, it takes a toll on your energy levels. 


Well, you are shifting between three or four different screens, constantly checking to see if your face is alright, making sure your unkempt bed and crushed blanket ain’t showing on the screen. 

While apparently, these small details don’t affect you much, you have been doing this every day, multiple times a day for the past 10 months!

That’s a lot of energy being sucked out of you.

On the other hand, a phone call helps you focus on the person’s voice. You don’t need to worry about how you look or if your room is in a mess. 

Saves enough energy to light a 💡

However, this can only be done if you have to talk to one or two people. If it’s an inter-department meeting or a deal closing with a big client, you might not get this luxury. 

So, save your energy for those meetings. 

Pro Tip: You can request your manager to allow con-call without the video though. 

  • Set boundaries between home and office

This might seem hard to do since your home is now the office, but it is a sure-fire way to deal with mental fatigue.

These simple steps will help you:

  • Replace your commute time to the office with a morning walk or jog
  • Have your breakfast while catching up with social media
  • Take a nice shower and put on your work clothes
  • After office, take a shower and change into your home clothes

Well, you have to make the best of what you have, you see. 

Since you cannot physically go to the office, trick your mind to think that you are at work

Whenever work and life boundaries are upset, mental fatigue is sure to set in. 

That’s why you hate working on weekends even if those hours were working from home. 

Similarly, quit working from your bed.

If you want to get over mental fatigue you have to stop being a couch potato right away. 

Additionally, pay special attention to your diet. Don’t binge on chips and fried snacks like a teen. 

The idea here is to stay fit. 

Always remember,  a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. You can’t get over mental fatigue if you transform into a turnip!

  • Take a day off

Ohh yes, you are entitled to leaves!

Just because you are working from home does not mean that you have to work 24×7

It’s true that bleeding-edge technology is moving towards AI, however, humans don’t have to become AI.

But don’t just take a day off to sleep throughout the day and dream about sleeping! 

Have a plan in place. Make sure your day off from work is different from the other days. 

Do things that you can’t/don’t do on the other days. This can include exercise, cooking, cleaning your wardrobe, or spending time with your family.

In short, all things other than work and sleeping.

If you are under the impression that you are tired all day for the lack of sleep and take a day off from the work to compensate for that, check your mental fatigue quotient. 

There might be something wrong there. 

  • Strike a work and life balance

Disruption in the work and life balance is one of the biggest mental fatigue causes. 

How can your mind be at peace with your baby whining and your dog growling near your work station?

Naturally, if you have to switch between two tasks you will lose your energy level. 

So, what can you do?

Well, instead of putting your dog in the crate and the baby in the cradle you can take a break and tend to them for some time. 


But what about your work?

Well, you are not the only one in this hot soup. Your clients too are perhaps vacuuming the seating area while replying to your email. 

They will understand. 

Things can honestly get wild if you have a teething baby at home. To that end, bend your work schedule around your baby’s nap hours if you are a single parent. 

Attend client calls and reply to emails while your baby is asleep. Talk it out with your manager and see if such flexibility can be arranged.

But no matter what, do one thing at a time. Don’t pile things on your plate. 

  • Stay connected

Though it may not have occurred to you earlier, you might have started to understand the importance of office chit chats. 

While earlier the constant cluttering and chime in the bay distracted you, now, you might be willing to give anything to hear those. 

Well, the cost won’t be much. 

All you need to do is pick up your phone and dial your colleague. 

They will not be disturbed by your call. If anything, they might be elated to hear your voice.

And why not? They are facing the same angst as you. 

Though the pandemic has been catastrophic to mankind, it has brought us all on the same page. 

We all are:

  • Tired of staying at home
  • Dealing with mental fatigue
  • Dying to get back to our old life
  • Looking forward to reuniting with our friends and colleagues

So, as long as these factors remain constant, reaching out to your teammates or colleagues and friends after office hours is alright. 

If not physically, try social means to stay connected.

Pro tip: Use casual apps like WhatsApp and Facebook for this purpose. They should know and feel that it’s a friendly call and not one where you discuss meeting minutes. 

  • Make room for distractions

Your family had always been staying at your home. YOU have turned it into your office recently, so don’t expect it to be distraction-free. 

Distractions are yet another reason for mental fatigue.

But thankfully, you can use the same to beat mental fatigue. 

This is a poison kills poison situation 😉

For this, find out what are the biggest distractions you have at home

  • Is it parents?
  • Partner?
  • Kids?
  • Pets?
  • Household chores?

Once you have determined the main distraction pillars:

  • Catch a break with your parents during lunchtime
  • Arrange for a romantic indoor date night for your partner once a week
  • Take a break and play with your kids and pets in the evening
  • If you are a cleanliness freak then doing household chores and cleaning can be a break too. You can keep these tasks listed for the weekend so you have something to look ahead to.

See, there is always a way! You just need to think out of the box.

  • Take micro-breaks

Even if you are entitled to a 1-hour break, don’t take the entire one hour break right away. 

Instead, cut it down to four 15 minutes breaks or so. 

The benefit of this is mammoth while dealing with mental fatigue.

Imagine you are designing a very tricky graphic. It requires a lot of attention and fine-tuning.

You do half of it and make a mental note of doing the rest after lunch. 

Then you take an hour-long lunch break, watch FRIENDS, Lord of the Rings, and finally get back to work.

You work for two more hours and realize you need another short break to relax your eyes and brain. 

But you are out of break time. So you soldier through against your stiff back and vacant brain. 

The result?

The graphic comes back for multiple edits the following week. 

You lost both your energy level and your creativity

So ideally rest your brain before you get tired.

As much as we would like to go out and meet people face to face, we have to wait for the pandemic to end and the vaccines to come out quickly.

Till then, find out what lights the fire in your belly and indulge in that to deal with mental fatigue. 


What are the causes of mental fatigue?

There can be multiple causes for mental exhaustion. Some of which are:

  • Constant decision making
  • A cluttered physical surrounding
  • Overcommitment to tasks
  • Chasing perfection

What are the symptoms of mental fatigue?

 The common signs of mental fatigue include:

  • Loss of appetite, hope, and motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Panic attacks

How long does it take to recover from mental fatigue?

Mental fatigue is not something one can recover from within a day or two. It’s a long ongoing process that can take years to achieve. However, it’s better to start the process as soon as possible and for that, the causes of mental exhaustion need to be identified early.