This week on A Voice and Beyond, we discuss the impact of mental fatigue and how it significantly impairs cognitive function, decision-making abilities, and overall success. Mental fatigue has been proven to reduce concentration, productivity, and problem-solving skills while disrupting emotional regulation and increasing stress levels. Furthermore, chronic mental fatigue can lead to burnout, threatening your ability to attain long-term goals and live in a state of well-being. Contributing factors to mental fatigue can include poor nutrition, lack of sleep, and cognitive overload from multitasking and simply asking your brain to take on too much throughout the day.

In this episode, we help you identify its causes and share four lifestyle modifications you can make to combat mental fatigue, such as reducing screen time, prioritizing sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet. These adjustments can improve memory, productivity, and creativity while reducing stress and promoting emotional balance. Managing mental energy through rest, stress reduction and mindfulness is essential for sustained success and fulfillment. By removing unnecessary tasks and responsibilities, individuals can mitigate mental fatigue and optimize their chances of success. It’s imperative to prioritize self-care and adopt strategies to preserve mental energy for your long-term health, well-being, and fulfillment. If you’ve been finding it difficult to focus, be productive, and ignite your creativity, passion, and purpose in your day, perhaps it is time to check in and see if you may be suffering from mental fatigue.

In this Episode

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 02:30 – Identifying Mental Fatigue
  • 08:30 – Fuelling the Brain with Nutrition
  • 15:48 – Eliminating Decision Fatigue
  • 21:55 – Avoiding Morning Technology Overload
  • 26:38 – Prioritising Sleep
  • 32:49 – Summary and Action Plan


Putting yourself first is important because it allows you to prioritize your own needs and well-being, which in turn can help you be more productive, creative, and fulfilled in all areas of your life. By taking care of yourself first, you are better equipped to care for others and contribute positively to the world around you.



Visit the A Voice and Beyond Youtube channel to watch back the video replay of this guest interview or to see my welcome video.

Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:00

Hey, it’s Marisa Lee here and I have some really exciting news to share with you. Just recently, I launched my performance mastery coaching programme, which has been designed to help a forming artists and other creatives just like you to take centre stage in their lives. Whether you’re mid career and simply feeling stuck, or you’re someone who is just about to embark on your career journey, and need help getting started, my unique coaching programme is for you. To celebrate the launch. I’m currently offering a free 30 minute discovery session, so you can learn more about the programme and how I can help you go to the next level in your life. My first intake is already seeing incredible results. So don’t miss out, go visit Dr. Marisa Lee forward slash coaching, or just send me a direct message and let’s get chassis. Remember, there’s no time like now to take centre stage in your life.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:23

It’s Marisa Lee here, and I’m so excited to be sharing today solo round episode with you. Whether you’re a member of the voice, community, or beyond your voice is your unique gift. And my mission, which has been inspired by my own personal and professional journey is to empower you to share your gift with others. Now is the time for you to discover your voice in life, develop a positive mindset and become the best and most authentic version of yourself to create greater impact. Ultimately, you can take charge, and you can become the director of your own life. It’s time for you to live your best life. It’s time now for a voice and beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  02:30

Are you feeling lethargic? And are you struggling with staying focused lately? Are you far more distracted and way more disorganised than what you usually are? It could even be that you feel disconnected. And perhaps your brain feels like it’s in overload. You’re having trouble getting things done and your productivity fluctuates. It goes up and it goes down. Maybe you’re having trouble thinking clearly. And you’ve been feeling absolutely mentally exhausted in recent months? Well, if you’ve answered yes to one, or all of these, it may well be that you are suffering from mental fatigue. And this is a real thing, especially since the pandemic mental fatigue has become a real problem for many of us over the past number of years, you may feel that the pandemic has destroyed your drive and your determination. And it’s become harder and harder to have that mental focus that you once had. You may find that your brain is not as sharp as it used to be. You’re feeling like you’re living in a brain fog. You’re feeling a lack of clarity, and it takes you a bit longer to make decisions. Well, I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. What you’re feeling is basically like mental exhaustion. And that’s how I feel some days just mentally exhausted. For me, there are times that kind of fatigue shows up when I’m focusing on a task that is mentally challenging for a while. I might also feel this kind of brain drain. If I’m consistently on high alert like in a fight or flight mode for a number of days. It sends me My brain into overdrive, leaving me exhausted, hampering my productivity and my overall cognitive function. So if you’re constantly stressed out, and maxed out, caught up in the chaos and the drama, you may well be suffering from mental fatigue to that kind of mental overwhelm becomes way too much. And your mind just can’t handle another thing. It’s just like physical tiredness, but your brain feeling tired instead of your muscles. The most, the most common symptoms of mental fatigue may include mental block, lack of motivation, irritability, stress, eating, or loss of appetite, and insomnia. It can show up in so many different ways. Right now, our society is experiencing an epidemic of mental fatigue, because there are so many people who are worrying about their jobs, their livelihoods, how they’re going to pay their mortgage, or even how they’re going to feed their families. Look, there are so many other things causing this mental fatigue that we’re all having to deal with on a daily basis. This kind of mental fatigue and even make those more those simple tasks that were a walk in the park seem unachievable. It can zap your motivation and make it hard for you to stay on track. Basically, you’re living in a state of constantly feeling emotionally, and mentally drained and in overwhelm. It’s that feeling that your brain just won’t function right. And some may even describe it as brain fog. In this episode, we’re going to offer some suggestions to help you minimise mental fatigue in a kind of no fast no brain way. I want to help you move out of that state of mental fatigue and put you into an alert, action focused state. I can’t promise you that you’ll never feel mental fatigue again. But even if you can experience it less often, and with fewer negative consequences for your mental health and productivity. It’s worth it. And I’ve done my job. So let’s get proactive and identify some steps you can take right now. Yes, right now, to help you live that life you desire with passion, and with purpose. You can serve your mission and find the joy you deserve.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  08:30

Number one, let’s start with fueling. It’s easy to forget that our brains require energy to function. It’s the same as we wouldn’t run a long distance marathon and then feel like a failure, just because our legs are tired. So why do we treat our brains so differently? Why are we so hard on ourselves when our brain power can be exhausted to the link between athletic performance and nutrition is obvious. But when it comes to mental performance, we don’t always make the same connection. We forget about feeding our brains and the brain is filled with the very same food as your muscles are. In fact, our brains are the gas guzzlers of the body’s organs, using up over half of the glucose in our bloodstream, therefore, what you eat definitely impacts your cognitive function in a massive way. I know that for me, if I’m not giving my body, the correct nutrition during the day If I find that come mid afternoon, I can’t concentrate. And even the most simplest task feels like the most difficult. I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over again, and it doesn’t sink in. Or I’m correcting the same line of the email I’m just about to send over and over again. Things that would have been water off a duck’s back in the morning, become really overwhelming mid afternoon, I find that I start to get impatient with other people and start to lose my cool, and there’s no need to feel this way. When it comes to diet, the biggest problem here is that it’s hard to know what we should and we shouldn’t be eating. It feels like there’s a new conflicting research out almost every single day. It’s all too much. And it’s also a minefield of misinformation. And my opinion when it comes to nutrition advice, and the best piece of advice that I can offer you is to always be sceptical. Proceed with caution. You can end up trying all these weird and these wonderful supercharged foods, and these here today and gone tomorrow, fad diets, and they don’t work. Like some people swear by paleo. Then there’s keto. There’s Vegan, Vegetarian pescetarian, intermittent fasting, the Mediterranean diet, the low fat, high carb, low protein, high protein, my brain hurts just working through this list of all these diets. So let’s keep it simple. You can start just by cutting down on refined sugars. This is one piece of nutrition advice that all the research does agree on. It’s been proven that sugar consumption decreases. Yes, decreases alertness within one hour, and it increases fatigue within 30 minutes. Wow. That’s incredible. So in other words, the Sugar Rush isn’t real. But the sugar crash is. I know that. When I have foods that are high in refined sugars, I have the highest of highs. And then I have the lowest of lows to the point that I start to shake my heart races, and I feel nauseous. It’s a horrible feeling. And there’s no way I can concentrate on anything, or even function as a normal human being in that state. And the main reason we consume foods that are full of refined sugars is because we haven’t meal planned and when you hit that wall, you will have zero willpower and you are more likely to crave a quick energy hit just like chocolate. And I know this because I’ve been in this situation. And I’ve actually had one of my students gone grab me a KitKat from one of the nearest vending machines. So it’s a good idea to keep lots of low sugar, unprocessed snacks on hand. In case you do happen to end up having a crash and burn episode. You can try the Arman’s whole grain crackers and cheese. Or my personal favourite is carrot sticks with a hummus dip. Oh my gosh, it is so yum. Another important tip is don’t skip breakfast, eat breakfast and eat a breakfast that will sustain your energy levels until lunch. So you get through till the middle of the day. Try fueling your brain with foods such as eggs, yoghurt and oatmeal and have less of those donuts, muffins and no sugary cereal. And be sure to stay hydrated. All studies show that even mild D hydration can negatively, yes, negatively impact brain performance. So drink lots of water. And whatever you do, don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink that water. I challenge you, try experimenting with different foods and see how your body reacts, then keep a log of your energy levels. And, you know, we’re all unique. So figure out what makes you feel the best. Even the most basic advice is not going to work for everyone.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  15:48

Number two, eliminate decision fatigue. You know, every day we make 1000s of choices, it’s been estimated that the average adult makes around 35,000 conscious decisions every day. And one of the consequences that comes with this is decision fatigue, which in turn, can lead to mental fatigue. And this decision fatigue is not my friend. So with this kind of fatigue, you too may end up being short tempered, or feeling irritated, snapping at people around you more often than what do you usually do. Because, as we know, being mentally fatigue makes it harder for us to control our emotions. Okay, so let’s look at this idea of decision fatigue. And I can assure you that there is such a thing, I’m not making it up. Because I know for a fact that I suffer from this. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Not only do we have to make 1000s of decisions for ourselves each and every day. But we’re constantly being asked to make decisions for other people. I have to tell you, there are times this drives me absolutely insane. And my poor husband cops it from me a lot. I’m sure that he asks me what feels like a million questions every day. You might think that’s ridiculous. She’s talking nonsense. And that doesn’t happen to me. All right, well answer me this. How many times does your partner or some family member asked you something like, Huh, what do you think I should wear? Do you want me to put the washing away? What do we need from the store today? Do you want me to feed the dog? What do you feel like for dinner? What do you want to do on the weekend? How do I look in this? When this happens? You just want to say you deal with it? I don’t know. Stop asking me all these questions. We snap because we are in decision fatigue. And the sad thing is when you snap, people feel like you don’t care. I’ve experienced this with my husband and my children many times when they asked me a heap of questions. But it was because I was in decision fatigue. And I just didn’t want to have to deal with making more decisions. Then I ended up feeling guilty because I felt like I was being mean. So not only is our decision fatigue, distracting us. But most importantly, we don’t end up having the energy to focus on those more important decisions we have to make through the day. Say, here’s a fun fact. Of the 35,000 decisions we make every day. These are usually insignificant and irrelevant. What How can this be? Alright, so when we wake up in the morning, we start making decisions about things like what do I have to do today? What time do I need to leave for work? What shall I wear? Should I drive or take the train? So many decisions, and we haven’t even left the house yet. And by the time we get to work, we’re already experiencing decision fatigue. And to avoid this morning decision fatigue, did you know that Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg do this thing where they were the same thing to work every day. I didn’t even notice this. And to be fair, I kind of do the same thing myself. I actually plan what I wear to work the night before I lay my clothes out, right down to my underwear, sorry, that’s too much information. So it’s one less decision that I have to make in the morning. Stuff. Sometimes I even buy the same dress or skirt or shoes in different colours or patterns, if I really like them. It’s my way of offering my brain a break. So what I want you to do right now is to identify what are the decisions that you’re making on a daily basis that are distracting you. Think about those decisions. And make sure that whatever you do you have the headspace for the most important decisions that you have to make during the day. So eliminate some of those, obsolete those insignificant decisions and make room for those important ones.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  21:55

Number three, don’t start your day with your phone. Don’t start your day with your phone. Don’t start your day with your phone, you need to stop. You don’t start your day with checking your phone study show we look at our phones around 50 to 200 times per day. But for most of us, were doing it every minute. Right? So 60 minutes a day, multiplied by let’s say we’re awake for 16 hours. That’s 960 times a day. So many of us look at our phones almost 1000 times a day. So if you’re looking at your phone that many times a day, why do you need to look at it first thing in the morning. If you’re going to look at your phone first thing in the morning, all you’re doing is opening up news, notifications, negativity, chaos, drama, and noise. You’re asking your mind to go from zero to 100 miles per hour in a matter of seconds. This is how you’re starting your day. It’s how you’re setting up your day. You can now understand what it’s going to do to your mind, and how it may be overloading your brain and causing your mind to fatigue well before you’ve even got out of bed, let alone even set foot outside the door to go to work. I actually did this as an experiment on myself where for seven days, I tried waking up without checking my phone. I can promise you those days, I woke up without my phone. My mind was way more clearer. And it was less chaotic throughout the whole day. I was calmer. I was less stressed. I felt like I was making better decisions because I wasn’t in information overload. Then I decided to continue to do this for another 30 days. And the benefits were amazing. And now I don’t look at my phone until later in the day. When you pick up your phone, it’s like you need to know everything. It’s like you have FOMO that fear of missing out. How many of you compulsively open up Instagram, tick tock messages, emails for everything, and you’re just scrolling through, because you don’t want to miss out on anything. And the challenge is when you fear that you’re going to miss out on something that is going on, you end up feeling really overwhelmed and overloaded. So my suggestion is that you go and buy yourself a traditional alarm clock, and you’re going to leave your phone, in another room, or on the other side of the bedroom. This helps to ensure that you don’t check your phone until you start your day. Honestly, you will have separation anxiety to start with, but you won’t know yourself. Try it for a few days and see how it transforms your life. That’s all you have to do just try it, then I dare you to add a time limit to your phone usage. You may set this for two hours a day, and see how much more you’ll be able to achieve when you don’t have your phone distracting you. We already have so many distractions that cause us to feel mentally fatigued, and you don’t need another

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  26:38

number four, prioritise sleep. This is relevant to all of us, your brain needs sleep to function well. We have far more alert, we retain information, and access our emotional intelligence and creativity. When our body has had the rest it needs. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our lives, our health, and our longevity. And yet, it’s becoming more and more neglected in our society. And this neglect comes with devastating consequences. In fact, the new age of sleep science reveals that sleep plays a vital role in every waking moment. And every aspect of our health, from weight gain, to diabetes, and heart disease to cancer and even Alzheimer’s. Every major disease in the developed world has very strong links to sleep deficiency. You may not believe this. But sleep also helps with your ability to be more skilled, to be more intelligent, to be less stressed, and to be more creative. All your preparation work actually starts the night before. And yet, what we’re finding is that in today’s fast paced, always connected forever on demand, constantly stressed out and sleep deprived world, our need for a good night’s sleep is more important, and yet more elusive than ever. For me personally, I feel as though I’m hung over when I haven’t had enough sleep. And I’m an emotional basket case when I’m over tired. Not only that, but I can’t think straight. My brain feels like mush. When most people go to bed, they think it’s relaxing. They feel good. But sleep time is recovery time. What happens to your brain is that it goes into a dishwasher mode. When you go into a deep sleep. It’s like when you load the dishwasher before bed. And in the morning, you find that the dishes are clean. And that’s what happens to your brain. Neuro chemicals start moving and dealing with the debris of cellular decline. That is your neurotransmitters that get used up and it’s also dealing with that cortisol that stress hormone. The dishwasher in your brain doesn’t go on at 10am It doesn’t go on at noon. The only time this happens is when you go into a deep sleep. So if you have a sound sleep for the correct amount of time, you will find yourself sharper, smarter, and more creative in the mornings. And I know I do. I always wake up with all these incredible ideas, I feel way more creative. And that’s because the debris of cell decay, and the stress hormones have all been dealt with during my sleep. And that’s why after a good night’s sleep, you always feel less or no stress in the mornings than what you do, say in the afternoon. So now is the time to stop. Please stop making excuses as to why you don’t sleep. Your human body wants that seven to eight hours sleep every night. And every study conducted over the past 50 years proves this. So don’t think that you’re the exception to the rule. That’s ignorant thinking. And if you struggle with going to sleep at night, think of this three to one rule. Eat dinner, three hours before bedtime. Because you need a decent break between meals and sleep, especially if you eat carbs that are slow to digest. Then power down for at least two hours before bed. This is really important. And this means to disengage with your emails, text messages, and all forms of work two hours before bed. Then one hour before bed, disengage with all technology so all screens off. That means no social media, no computer, no television, go and read a book instead or listen to a meditation. Technology changes our sleep cycles and prevents us from getting a more restorative sleep. And it’s also important to have a calming bedtime routine. Doing the same series of relaxing things every night before bed signals to your body and your mind, it’s time to go and have that peaceful slumber.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  32:49

Mental fatigue is not your friend. When fatigued your concentration levels are diminished, as are your productivity and problem solving skills. complex tasks become daunting, leading to errors and losing your creative edge. mental exhaustion also disrupts emotional regulation and escalates your stress levels. Over time. Chronic Fatigue can lead to burnout. Mental fatigue is complex. And usually it’s not caused by one thing. contributing factors can be physical ones such as poor nutrition, or lack of sleep, or they can be cognitive because you’ve been asking your brain to do way too much and it’s in overload. And much of this can be self inflicted. Maybe you’re spreading your attention across too many things. All those decisions, you have to make the information you have to process the emails you feel that you need to respond to the tasks you take on for others. It’s no wonder we feel mentally exhausted by the end of the day. Yet. That’s exactly how most of us operate on a daily basis. The good news is that mental fatigue doesn’t have to hang around in your life. Because sometimes finding the cause of this fatigue is a no brainer. Pardon the pun. That was a bad joke. It’s time right now to remove some of these tasks and responsibilities that have become part of your new normal. Check out the ways you can help them maintain brain function by reducing the use of your smartphone, tablet and computer. Make those lifestyle modifications that can also help, such as getting enough rest and eating healthy foods. These can all help improve memory, reduce stress and maintain that emotional balance. Find your zen. Don’t let your chances of success be compromised by mental fatigue. You can win the day, you can win at life. So manage your mental energy. Because you are worthy. You are worth the effort. Always have been and always will be. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of a voice and beyond. I hope you enjoyed it as now is an important time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. Use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow so you can show up feeling empowered and ready to live your best life. If you know someone who will also be inspired by this episode, please be sure to copy and paste the link and share it with them. Or share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. I promise you I am committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one every week. And if you’d like to help me, please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would also love to know what it is that you most enjoyed about this episode and what was your biggest takeaway? Please take care and I look forward to your company next time on the next episode of a voice and beyond.