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Common Brain Drains and Natural Brain Boosters

your three brainsHave you ever felt unusually fatigued and generally drained? While fatigue, despite being well-rested, can generally be attributed to many things, the cause of your malaise and mental funk might be quickly resolved by first recognizing and identifying the stress triggers that could be the underlying culprit behind your morose mood, and replacing them with healthy brain boosters instead.

Can you recognize which triggers might be affecting your mental health and energy?

  • Not moving
    Moving doesn’t have to be a full-blown sweat session. Just getting some fresh air outside or a walk around the block can cure what’s been ailing you, and give you a mood boost as well. An increase in serotonin and endorphins enable this little magical lift to happen. Next time, have a brainstorming work session outside. Vitamin D is nature’s natural antidepressant, and people who suffer from low levels of the sunshine vitamin often experience greater dips in mood throughout the day.
  • Complaining
    Complaining feels good, but it can certainly bleed over from venting in an effort to feel better to downright rumination, an obsession causing more negative feelings to ensue — a vicious cycle that never ends. This can drain you, and the person listening to you. If complaining has a constructive purpose, with a proposed solution in hand, you will wind up feeling better, not worse.
  • Interacting with toxic people
    While it is hard to avoid everyone who drains you for whatever reason, do your best to limit your interactions with those people who leave you feeling depleted.
  • Excessive worrying
    Excessive worrying can cause a whole slew of health problems. Learn to let go of what you cannot control, and embrace what you can control in the present. Then, actually do something constructive to address your issues.
  • Fear
    Fear activates the amygdala in the brain, causing a fight or flight response. This in turn, triggers inflammatory responses in the body contributing to your malaise. Learn to distinguish between outright danger and anticipatory anxiety.
  • Social comparisons
    Focusing on what others have or don’t have is utterly useless. It detracts from potential blessings you could be receiving, not to mention blessings you already have but fail to notice.
  • No passion
    Not being goal-oriented or passionate about something is a surefire way to have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, or living with purpose. Find your passion, however big or small, and purse it with vigor.
  • Making the same mistake repeatedly 
    Experience creates neuronal growth in the brain, whereby we learn from making the same mistakes repeatedly. Embrace what you have learned, and apply its lessons to many areas of your life to enhance it for the better.
  • Remaining stagnant
    Strive to become a better version of you each and every day. Being comfortable is a sign of stagnancy, wherein no growth takes place.
  • Chronic stress
    Learn to identify your stress triggers, which are quite subjective, and tackle each one with productive ways to overcome and address them and/or avoid them to the best of your ability.
  • Negative thinking
    Optimism has its benefits. Adopting or cultivating a healthy dose of optimism enables you to see things in a positive light, while also having a backup plan(s) in place in case things do not go the way you envisioned.  
  • Regret/Anger/Resentment
    Learn to let go, and forgive others who have wronged you. Forgiving is not a sign of weakness, or of forgetting what has been done to you. Forgiving is a gift you give yourself, a gift that removes the toxicity in your heart that you have been carrying around.
  • Not cultivating friendships/gratitude
    Reach out to others when you need a mood boost. The social connection can do wonders to improve your overall mood, and cognitive function. While you are at it, treat a friend or a loved one for coffee, and express your gratitude to them for something they did for you, however big or small. Small acts of gratitude never go unnoticed.
  • Not spending enough time alone.
    Spend some time with yourself, and stop putting everyone ahead of you and your own needs. It is when we spend some time with ourselves that we are truly able to reflect, make intuitive connections, and engage in some much needed introspection.
  • Not learning anything new/no change in your existing routine
    While a semblance of routine is healthy for mental stability and overall health, not changing it up once in a while can leave you feeling drained, and unmotivated. Learn to embrace and incorporate something new into your life.
  • Helping others
    Acts of kindness, however small, stimulate the brain cells to become more empathetic. Learning to cultivate these often underused muscles, exercises the brain in the healthiest of ways. So do good, genuinely think of others, and reap the positive benefits of your actions down the line.  

These sneaky culprits can seem quite obvious in a list form. However, when you find yourself not feeling the best you could feel, and you can’t quite put your finger on what may be ailing you, try revisiting some of the suggestions above to become a better and healthier version of yourself. This way you can learn to live more optimally, and have stronger relationships not just with others around you, but with yourself as well-the person you should be advocating the most for.

Common Brain Drains and Natural Brain Boosters

Emily Waters

Emily Waters earned her Master's degree in industrial psychology with an emphasis in human relations. She possesses keen insight into the field of applied psychology, organizational development, motivation, and stress, the latter of which is ubiquitous in the workplace environment and in one’s personal life. One of her academic passions is the understanding of human nature and illness as it pertains to the mind and body. Prior to obtaining her degree, she worked in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors. Presently, she teaches a variety of psychology courses both in public and private universities.

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APA Reference
Waters, E. (2018). Common Brain Drains and Natural Brain Boosters. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Feb 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.