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Generally, we associate our mental functioning with several neurological and psychological processes, so it is well quoted that “A healthy mind resides in a healthy body”. Still, sometimes mental exhaustion and constant pressure can result otherwise. Nowadays, people from all walks of life are victims of stress, and anxiety, and most of the time they seem mentally exhausted which affects their quality of life as well as work.
Similarly, athletes and sports persons also experience mental exhaustion that affects their decision-making and performance besides their health. Even though athletes are trained to be strong, they also fail to resist the unwelcomed and displeasing pressure created by challenges and sometimes defeat.
Achieving success and being accomplished in sports might look simple from the outside, but there are various unveiled chapters of the same, unknown to the general public. Their inability to perform to their full potential leads to undesirable stress that impacts their performance, often leading to emotional exhaustion. Let’s dive into a more detailed study of factors causing mental exhaustion and remedies to cope with it.
What is mental fatigue?
According to a study, “mental fatigue is a psychobiological state caused by prolonged periods of demanding cognitive activity shown to influence physical performance negatively.” Often mental and physical fatigue are co-related and there are several studies to differentiate the former from the latter, yet they remain interconnected.
Some numerous difficulties and challenges limit the monitoring and control of mental exhaustion leading to declining motivation, confidence, enthusiasm, concentration, discipline, feeling disengaged, a tendency to back out, etc.
Major causes of brain or mental fatigue are the inability to fulfill expectations, repetitive and burdensome tasks, over-analysis of the game and sport, information overload, frail personality traits, physical exhaustion at training, sponsorships and media engagement, lack of staff cohesion in an organization, performance pressure, and what not. These factors can have immense effects on the mental as well as physical health of athletes. Mental health is like a thread that breaks under constant strain and adversity.
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The Impact of Mental Exhaustion / Fatigue
The decline in cognitive performance due to recurrent mental strain and fatigue impacts people, making them tired, and can get sick easily.
Mentally exhausted people are even more devastating, leading to poor concentration, tiredness, anxiety, stress, repulsiveness, emotional breakdowns, complications, and so on. Mental exhaustion in sports can also lead to unwanted mistakes as tasks seem more complicated and burdensome than usual. It affects athletic performance, making them physically, mentally, and emotionally tired. Mental fatigue also affects the functioning of the brain, making athletes reluctant about decision-making, performance, training, leadership, etc.
It can also have a massive impact on the growth and personality of the athlete, leading to a downfall in their sports career. According to a study, mental fatigue has negative impacts on athletes’ abilities and sporting performance. After analyzing the study, it was interpreted that there are perceived connections between mental fatigue and changing behavior. Major descriptors of mental fatigue are known to be decreased concentration, discipline, motivation, enthusiasm, and attention spans.
The feeling of mentally tired is mainly because of media engagements, burdensome work and duties, repetitive tasks, and environmental instability. The personality and experience of athletes are contributing factors to individual susceptibility. However, all sportspersons and athletes have the potential to improve and recover under appropriate monitoring and therapy sessions.
Mentally Exhausted & Resistance
It is said that the stronger the willpower, the higher the scope of recovery. With that said, the idea of strong willpower is a necessary step toward resisting mental fatigue and recovery. The exhaustion and strain make tasks more difficult. Those who can resist the effects of fatigue are usually the ones packed with a powerhouse of willpower that pushes them to overcome challenges and difficulties.
It is believed that athletes have a greater tendency to recover and resist the impact of mental fatigue, depending on their personality and endurance. It is assumed that they are born with the ability to combat mental exhaustion, but that is not true for all. Yes, there might be some people who might be able to resist it, but on the other hand, there are some athletes who feel mentally and emotionally exhausted and have to battle against themselves.
The training and routines of athletes are planned in such a manner to train not only their bodies but also their minds to be able to adapt to the transforming environmental conditions. However, over-training can result otherwise, leading to failure and mental trauma.
Mentally Exhausted? Tips For Athletes & Coaches
Educating oneself as an athlete or as a coach is a crucial step toward resisting mental and emotional fatigue. Monitoring the lifestyle and training of athletes along with professional guidance help to perceive the exertion levels affecting their well-being and performance.
Coaches should keep a check on the feelings of athletes, which will enable them to perceive the rate of exhaustion and fatigue of individual athletes. A few things should be kept in mind while training the athletes, first and foremost are avoiding monotonous training sessions, inducing programs to motivate and enthusiasm, eliminating mentally exhausting tasks before a tournament, organizing short and effective cognitively demanding sessions, prioritizing rest and recovery after each game, supervising athletes to identify potential issues, and lastly incorporating training along with professional aid to cope with factors triggering mental tiredness.
Athletes are blessed with some superpowers that they develop during their initial training sessions, which include strong concentration and focus levels, positive attitude and mental imagery, goal-setting strategies, strong communication and motivation skills, confidence, and commitment to represent themselves as empowered youth of the nations. What matters the most is the team spirit that strengthens all individual athletes and is a reminder that they are all one and none have to suffer alone.