Our minds can handle about 4 hours of “deep work” or “tightly focused attention” in a day before we start to experience mental fatigue. It is that point in our studying or working where we start to feel less effective and productive, and we may start to feel easily distracted and irritable. This is usually the sign that the mental effort you have been exerting has depleted the glucose that feeds neural energy. In the same way that we give our body a rest when we feel tired, we also need to give our brains a rest. What can we do to rest our brain? First, here is what does NOT rest the brain: checking emails, surfing the internet, looking at social media, or playing video games. These activities will not give your brain a deep recovery. We need to engage in activities that allow our brain to “just be” without continued distractions. Meditation and spending time in nature are the best ways to give your brain the deep relaxation it needs. Logistically, most people can’t leave their workplace to drive to a nature preserve, but you don’t need to go very far. Take a walk around your building and enjoy the fresh air, or maybe there’s a patch of trees in the parking lot you can sit under. If you work in a concrete jungle, focus your attention up into the sky and admire the clouds and sunshine. If you want to be more productive, you need to give your brain a rest.


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