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How to Get Your Body Moving When You’re Mentally Exhausted

Maybe it’s just been one of those days. The first thing when wrong, then another, then another - you’re exhausted.

Or maybe you just find you’re tired all the time. At 5 pm, your brain switches off. You’ve tapped out for the day. There is no way you can pull yourself up off that couch to get moving.

Or is there?

Undeniably, your mental health and physical health are linked. When you’re mentally exhausted, you might feel physically drained as well - and vice versa.

In fact, research indicates that there are multiple direct and indirect cross-effects between your mental and physical health. For example, social isolation and loneliness are high-risk factors when it comes to ill health, especially in the elderly population.

However, there are many ways you can impact these cross-effects. Plus, you know you’ll feel good after that workout, but it’s getting to that workout and completing it that’s the problem.

Healthy Ways to Push Past Mental Exhaustion

Here are a few mental exhaustion motivation tips to help you can overcome that slump and fly through your next workout - despite feeling like you can’t.

1. Put on Your Workout Clothes

This small task can help you overcome your mental fatigue and get moving. It comes down to not thinking, just doing.

When we stop and think about if we want to do that workout, your inner voice will likely shout back “no!” This is especially true if you’re feeling tired with no energy.

But throwing on your workout clothes really does work! A survey of 2000 people showed that 90% of people feel more motivated to workout after putting on their workout clothes.

You can even take this a step further and buy new workout clothes that get you excited to move. So… give it a try! It’s one tiny task that could make a world of difference for your mental and physical health.

Man splashing water on face.

2. Splash Cold Water on Your Face

Need a way to quickly wake up? Cold water to the face will do the job.

This little trick can restart your body and mind, putting you in a mental state where you might be able to find some fitness inspiration and motivation to get moving.

It’s quick. It’s easy. And doesn’t require that much effort. All you need to do is run the tap to cold, then splash the water 2-3 times in your face. It might be the exact boost you need.

3. Write Out a To-Do List

If you have trouble sticking to your plans, make a list. Check things off as you do them, including your workout. Make a list of kills for the day - these may be work-related or personal.

Research further shows that when you write down your to-do list, you might experience less anxiety and you’re more likely to get it done. It’s also rewarding checking off the items on your list, making you feel more productive throughout the day.

4. Publicly Say You’re Going to Exercise

Announce to friends at the office that you are going to the gym or going to do your workout tonight. It holds you accountable and when they ask about it the next day, you won’t want to awkwardly admit that you just didn’t feel like it.

Another side to this is finding a gym buddy or someone to hold you accountable. When you have to answer to someone other than yourself, it provides motivation to actually follow-through. This proves true for any habit you want to change or the goal you want to accomplish.

One other tip? Start a blog or talk about it on social media. Put it out there, publicly. Again, it comes down to accountability. You say you are going to do something, so you’ll be more likely to do it.

Someone having an afternoon snack with tea.

6. Eat Something

That tired ‘blah’ feeling might be due to low blood sugar. Eat a power snack - something that amps your energy back up. Have you eaten any food in the last few hours?

Like the rest of your body, your brain needs glucose to function. Without it, it’s hard to reach your fitness inspiration or motivation - you don’t have the energy or the willpower. Go for a small snack, such as yogurt, a banana, or whip up our delicious Beet Hummus & Homemade Pita Chips! It’ll bump your energy back up, minus the inevitable crash or any discomfort during your workout.

7. Go For That Power Nap

A short 20-minute power nap can increase your energy and get you out of that slump! Why 20 minutes? You won’t fall into that deep REM sleep. In turn, waking up won’t leave you feeling more groggy than when you went to bed.

This nap time is also optimal for improved alertness, mood, and performance - all which can help you muster up that motivation you need to get your workout done.

Another important aspect to think about is keeping a regular sleep routine. If you aren’t getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night, your bedtime habits might be to blame for your constant fatigue and mental exhaustion. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day - sleep is important!

Want to learn more about the benefits of napping? Read this next: Feeling Guilty About Your Afternoon Nap? Science Says It’s Good For You.

8. Do 20 Jumping Jacks

Just move. Do 20 jumping jacks or 10 push-ups - whatever gets your blood flowing and is accessible right now. Once you move around a bit, you might find the motivation you need. It’ll get the blood pumping through your brain, waking you back up and getting you ready to go!

A person standing in nature in hiking boots.

9. Go Outside

Fresh air feels good - especially when you’re tired. It’s similar to the cold water in the face method. A fresh breeze can re-energize you. Plus, nature has an abundance of positive effects on our mental health. It’s mood-boosting, calming, and is proven to help individuals’ de-stress.

Maybe go for a walk around your house or around the block. Stand or sit outside for 15 minutes. Take a deep breath and reset. Refocus and mentally prepare yourself for your workout.

10. Rest Up For Next Time

If all else fails… take a break. We all need it once and awhile, and it’s absolutely okay to take one. Relax. Take the night off. Order in. Balance is important too.

Conclusion

Most importantly, listen to your body. Sometimes when you’re feeling that mental fatigue, your body is trying to tell you something. Maybe you just need a break (we all do sometimes).

However, you don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking you need a break all the time. If it’s always your excuse for not moving, you may need to rethink it and try the above methods to overcome your tiredness and get through your workout.

Stuck Inside? Here’s How to Stay Motivated During Indoor Workouts

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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