What is Mental Energy & How to Support It

What is Mental Energy & How to Support It

What Is Mental Energy & How to Support It

Do you ever feel distracted, unable to concentrate, with no motivation or even capacity to work? Does your mind ever feel sluggish? Do simple tasks ever feel grueling? Do you ever space out easily? If so, you may be running low on mental energy.

What Is Mental Energy?

Mental energy can be defined as the capacity or willingness to perform cognitive work, such as focusing, sustaining attention, solving problems, reasoning, and making decisions. Mental energy is a finite resource that can be depleted. When you’re running low on mental energy you may feel distracted, have no motivation, and have a hard time concentrating on a task, maintaining a train of thought, planning, and making decisions. 

When you’re running low on mental energy you may feel distracted, have no motivation, and have a hard time concentrating on a task, maintaining a train of thought, planning, and making decisions.

What Is the Importance of Mental Energy?

Mental energy is important because it is essential for cognitive performance. Your cognitive power relies on mental energy—it’s what fuels your capacity to concentrate, switch between tasks, hold information in your mind, remember, learn, multitask, make good decisions, generate complex mental associations, and imagine and develop ideas.

However, you may often face circumstances that can drain your mental energy: overwork, stress, work-life imbalance, juggling multiple responsibilities, and constant decision-making. This can make you feel overwhelmed and disturb your work and even your personal life. Supporting mental energy can be an antidote to these feelings.

How to Support Mental Energy 

More and Better Sleep

Sleep is essential for replenishing mental energy. When you have a poor night’s sleep, you most likely wake up feeling tired—your mind may be drowsy and you may have a hard time getting through the day’s work. That’s because good sleep is essential for feeling energized, replenished, motivated, and capable during the day [1,2]. 

A good night’s sleep is not only about the amount of time you sleep, it’s also about sleep quality: both are essential for sleep to be regenerative and reinvigorating [3,4]. Poor sleep affects vigilance, alertness, and attention, reduces mental processing speed, and even affects emotional processing. Consequently, poor sleep can impair not only your cognitive performance but also your ability to cope with stress and control emotions [5]. This is a recipe for draining mental energy.

Good sleep hygiene may help you have a replenishing sleep: set a bedtime; make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and at a cool but comfortable temperature; put away your electronic devices 30-60 min before bedtime; and avoid large meals, alcohol, and caffeine late in the evening [6,7]. 

Schedule Brain Breaks

Working continuously for long stretches of time can be mentally draining and stressful. Our capacity for attention and mental work are finite and, unless you take time to fill up your mental tank, you’ll soon be running on fumes. Breaking up your day with activities that take your mind off work for a while can help you relax, reset, and replenish your mental energy. These can be simple things such as short bursts of exercise, a few minutes of meditation, or a short stroll in nature

Increase Your Physical Activity

The brain has a very high energy demand. Consequently, it needs an effective delivery and use of nutrients and oxygen to maintain optimal function and mental energy. When the brain isn’t getting the oxygen and fuel it needs, it has a harder time executing cognitive tasks. 

One of the best ways to support nutrient and oxygen delivery to the brain is by promoting healthy cerebral blood flow and metabolism. And one of the best ways to promote these is with physical activity and exercise. Breaking up your day with moments of physical activity helps to support healthy cerebral blood flow and metabolism, and by doing so, to maintain healthy brain function and mental energy [8–10].

Physical activity breaks (like a light-intensity walk in nature, squats, stair climbing, or at least simply standing for a while) help to delay mental fatigue, support stress resilience, and enhance cognitive performance.

This is particularly important if you’re sedentary or have a job involving prolonged sitting, which is linked to poorer cognitive performance, physical and mental fatigue, and lack of motivation [11–14]. Physical activity breaks (like a light-intensity walk in nature, squats, stair climbing, or at least simply standing for a while) help to delay mental fatigue [13], support stress resilience [15,16], and enhance cognitive performance [17]. 

Try Meditation or Yoga

Psychological stress drains mental energy because it places the mind (and body) in an energy-demanding fight-or-flight mode that consumes cognitive resources [18]. We often feel exhausted after facing a stressful situation because there’s an actual energetic and cognitive cost to dealing with stress [18–20]. 

Ongoing stress can lead to mental and physical exhaustion that may manifest as a feeling of low mental energy, particularly in the absence of opportunities to restore energy [21,22]. Finding strategies to better cope with stress may help us harness its effects. A good option is to include in your day activities that help to support stress resilience such as meditation or yoga [23,24]. 

Eat a Balanced Diet

Food is the source of the nutrients our brain needs to generate energy. Food also supplies many nutrients used as precursors for the synthesis of neurotransmitters and other brain molecules, that facilitate those processes, or that influence signaling pathways that do so. In contrast, unhealthy foods may affect nutrient absorption, tissue delivery, signaling pathways, metabolism, and the brain’s detox capacity [25]. Therefore, the foods we choose to eat can have a meaningful influence on brain metabolism and brain function in general. When the supply of brain nutrients is inadequate, every brain function is affected, as is your mental energy. 

A healthy and diversified diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and unprocessed protein, and low in processed, salty, and highly palatable fatty and sugary foods can help nourish your brain and keep it well energized [25]. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water—your brain needs it [26].

Drink Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the most used and studied nootropic compounds. Drinking caffeine is a great way to boost mental energy because it supports resistance to mental fatigue, and promotes wakefulness, alertness, attention, reaction time, information processing, executive function, reasoning, and even creative thinking, all of which contribute to our capacity for mental work [27–34]. 

Caffeine is one of the most used and studied nootropic compounds.

However, responses to caffeine tend to follow a hormetic response, with low-to-moderate amounts (50 to 200 mg) of caffeine supporting better cognitive performance, but servings above that range hindering performance. For reference, according to the FDA, an 8-ounce cup of coffee provides about 80 to 100 mg of caffeine, and an 8-ounce cup of green or black tea about 30 to 50 mg. 

Also, keep in mind that caffeine may affect your sleep, so try to avoid it late in the day. Some people may even need to avoid caffeine anytime after noon. Know your caffeine limits.

Use Nootropic Supplements

Brain supplements can support mental energy through different mechanisms and help you balance many of the factors that deplete it. That’s one of the goals of our nootropic supplement Qualia Mind.* 

Qualia Mind contains a complex mixture of vitamins, minerals, neurotransmitter precursors, and herbal ingredients chosen with the goal of supporting cognitive function through distinct mechanisms of action. Qualia Mind provides compounds that help the brain generate the energy and molecules it needs to work at its best by supporting oxygen and nutrient delivery and their utilization. These include vitamins that act as cofactors in metabolic pathways, molecules that support brain mitochondrial function and energy generation, precursors that provide building blocks for neurotransmitters and other brain molecules, and ingredients that promote healthy cerebrovascular function.* 

Furthermore, Qualia Mind contains the powerful nootropic combination of Caffeine and L-Theanine. L-Theanine helps to balance the stimulating action of caffeine which can sometimes cause jitteriness, resulting in a complementary effect. Together, they support alertness, attention, mood, and cognition [35–39], thereby enhancing mental energy and performance.* You can read more about Qualia Mind ingredients here.


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