8 Things to Do When Your Brain is Tired

With busy days and the necessity to accomplish several things, it can be mentally exhausting.

As a mom, caregiver, and usually the person in charge of all-the-things, this balancing act leaves us drained by the end of the day. When I cared for my mother in our home and homeschooled my teenager, I couldn’t believe how mentally tired I was at the end of the day! The weariness went from head to toe –even if I hadn’t done much physical work.

Many call this “brain drain” or “fried brain.” I call it “brain tired.” It is when our brain has been on fire all day, with no time in which to recharge. The body feels out of steam because of the effects the brain has to endure all day.

How Brain Drain Happens

As we complete many tasks throughout the day that are mentally taxing, the brain burns through glucose for its fuel. When glucose levels drop, a neurotransmitter that aids our metabolism called adenosine blocks dopamine. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that helps with mood, memory, focus, sleep, and much more. When dopamine can’t do its thing, it results in our becoming tired and unmotivated.

We must stay healthy to carry on with our responsibilities. That makes it necessary to find a few minutes somewhere in the day to give your brain a break or make time in the evening to prepare your brain for sleep.

To rest our brain, trying to relax by watching a movie or listening to a podcast may not be best. Shutting off our brain to fall asleep can be difficult if we are doing something on our phone. We are still engaging our brains, concentrating in another way.

One solution for resting your brain and giving it a break from its busy day: Go outside. In an earlier post, I shared how spending time outdoors is also an essential part of self-care with many benefits.

Taking a short break for brain drain is therapeutic. No, I’m not asking you to exercise (I’m allergic to the gym myself). Instead, try an activity to relax and quiet your brain after a stressful, eventful day. It can help keep you healthy and feel more restful. And sane.

Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

8 Things to Do When Your Brain is Tired

Sit in quiet.

If you have a house full of family, there is noise everywhere. Grab some water and sit outside somewhere – on the back patio or the front porch. Inside your car. Listen to relaxing music, some background or white noise, pray or meditate, but no social media. Just sit. Start with ten minutes. It may take some practice.

Click here for a YouTube playlist of calming, peaceful nature sounds!

Enjoy a snack.

Moving from one task to the next, we can forget to nourish our bodies. If you are feeling low, grab a healthy snack and head outside. Don’t eat at your desk or while you are doing something else. Take some time to eat purposefully and enjoy it!

Concentrate on nature.

When you are outside, soak in the sun and the sights and sounds of your immediate surroundings.  Focus on the sky, flowers in your garden, or the trees swaying. Take deep breaths to revive your soul and refresh your mind.

Take a stroll.

If possible, take a short, leisurely walk. (I like to walk to our mailbox depot at the end of our street.) No step counting. Let the rhythm of your footsteps lull you away from the cares of the day.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash


Pour a glass of your favorite drink, sit in a comfy chair, and write down the happenings of the day. What stressed you? What can you do differently?  Emptying your brain with all that has transpired during the — the good, the bad, and the ugly — can help.

Go on a bike ride.

If this is easy for you, take a quick spin around the neighborhood or the block. It can help blow off steam. Peddle leisurely and enjoy the breeze on your face.

Be in the dark.

You don’t have to spend time outside during the day. Go outdoors at night and gaze at the night sky. Listen to the night sounds. If you need to, drive to a place that has less light pollution.


After a tiresome day of caregiving, I would take 30 minutes to read after getting mom settled in for the day and before starting the evening meal. Reading may use the brain, but many book nerds like me will tell you that losing yourself in a work of fiction is the best way to relax. Designate a spot outside where you can read comfortably. Even for 15 minutes, reading outdoors is another way to get some sun and Vitamin D.  

Allowing your brain to rest is self-care.

To recharge and have the energy to tackle the rest of the day, designate just a few minutes for a break at some point to let your mind recharge. It will help your mood too. For better sleep, give your brain enough time to rest before going to bed. Don’t allow anything to get in the way of this essential time for yourself. Not only is it healthy, but something that you need and deserve. 

6 responses to “8 Things to Do When Your Brain is Tired”

  1. I need to follow your list of tips. I find the best way to “wake up” my tired brain is to go for a walk just sit in the yard and listen to the birds. I find that very relaxing.

  2. Society sends the message that we need to be on the go all the time. Your post reminds us that rest is just as important as tackling our to-do list. I love your recommendations. The ones I enjoy most are quiet meditation time, bike ride, walk in nature.

  3. Angie, trading in stress for energy is a core specialty of my professional practice. And I love this piece! Everything you've said is so important.

  4. Somehow the feeling of achieving all my targets throughout a day, gives me a sense of achievement. It helps me feel happy rather than be tired. But brain drain does occur from time to time and mindfulness practices help a lot at those moments.

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