The Brain Uses More Calories than We Think

I recently had one of those therapy sessions that gave me a lot to think about. Usually I leave a good session with a new insight into how I approach things or sometimes a suggestion on how to observe myself, my actions, and my reactions to others and better adapt. This particular session was more than good, though. It left me thinking about the topics for days after, in both depth and breadth of realizations. It was even a contributor for finishing my post about attraction.

But during a conversation with a close friend a day or so after the session, I mentioned that I was exhausted and I hadn’t even done any hard physical work. It was all just from the mental work processing what I’d learned, figuring out what I could do with it, and generally forming new wrinkles in the old grey matter. Friend mentioned once reading an interesting article that claimed a pilot on an instrument approach to minimums (basically minimum altitude and visibility requirements for the airplane) burns several hundred calories. Most of the work is all in the brain and stress.

Stress is exhausting. Mental work is exhausting. What we’ve been enduring for the past month or two in social exile, quarantine, working from home… it takes its toll. It’s OK to be tired just from listening to everything that’s going on, let alone dealing with some of the more impactful things coming from this pandemic like losing your job or even worse: a loved one.

It’s OK to go to bed early after a day of doing nothing more than sitting at your computer or listening to press briefings. It’s OK to need a nap in the middle of the day or to just go sit outside in the sunshine for a few minutes to recharge. Get that run in, play a quick game, do whatever it is you need to do to relax and disconnect from the real world for just a moment.

While your physical activity might be much like my own, and dreadfully lacking these days, our brains are working overtime and that’s a mental exercise that we should repair with rest, without shame or regret, whenever we need to.

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