Mental workload: what it is and how to prevent it 

Mental workload is a set of symptoms that you can begin to suffer after a continuous mental effort. We tell you the most effective measures to prevent it.

KNOW YOURSELF

24 February 2020

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Who has not occasionally been overwhelmed by a large number of tasks to be done? What do we do if we feel we can no longer do it? I feel bad ... what's happening to me? Taking the kids to school, stopping by the dry cleaners, meeting with the boss before lunch, taking your child to an extracurricular activity, seeing the doctor...it's horrible! That feeling of not getting there and that everything that needs to be done is steadily accumulating every day.

What is mental workload

The physical and mental effort needed to face the week as though you were a sprinter which is also incompatible with having a tranquil state of mind on a daily basis.

In the 70s stress was defined by McGrath as “substantial imbalance between demand and response capability, under conditions where failure to meet demand has important (perceived) consequences”. If the pressure level remains high for a long time, it produces a so-called state of resistance. And if stress continues, overcoming a person's tolerance, one reaches exhaustion, with consequent functional and organic alterations.

Mental overload means a high state of tension that must be maintained in order to achieve a concrete result, which implies the need to process, manage and use a lot of information to make decisions, regardless of the subject in question (family, professional or personal). This brings with it a set of elevated demands that confront us.

If stress continues, overcoming a person's tolerance

Level of demand, management of stress, the psychological effort needed to deal with the various tasks, attention and concentration,  intellectual effort, not being able or not knowing how to delegate and technological competence, are some of the triggers that can lead us toward mental overload.

Either because we do not have adequate resources or mental abilities to cope with external demands (what others ask us), or because we do not manage the internal ones (the level of demand we put on ourselves for the completion of the various tasks), results in an effort that eventually generates fatigue.


Symptoms of mental tension

Where is the balance between the tasks that we have to carry out and the worry that these involve? It means adapting the demands of the task to our capabilities, which means if it cannot be easily performed, the most important thing to do is to ask for help.

If we don't, we may suffer stress, which is the set of physical, physiological and psychological reactions we experience when we submit our body to a demand that exceeds it.

What are these symptoms of stress? Increased heart rate (palpitations), muscle or joint pain and tension, difficulty breathing, headaches, gastrointestinal discomfort, worries, tiredness, irritability, difficulty making decisions and concentrating, confusion, difficulty expressing what is happening to us, fears, etc.


Measures to prevent mental stress

-The first thing to do is to take care of our eating and sleeping rhythms and trying, if necessary, to take breaks throughout the day to avoid the overload that might lead to an excess of that intense physical and mental fatigue.

- Engage in sports or physical activity two or three times a week.

- Find leisure and free time activities.

- Share concerns with someone close.

- Cultivate positive attitude and thinking.

- Maintain bonds of friendship with healthy and cheerful people.

-Learn relaxation techniques
 
 -If the symptoms persist more than two or three weeks, we should see a specialist who can help orient us based on our circumstances and needs.