How to Rest Your Brain

Artist: Elizabeth D’Angelo

A guide for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and related conditions

Donna Rests Her Brain

I always knew that I had physical crashes that were bad and cumulative. But I just recently realized I can have brain crashes too – especially from sensory overload or talking. I find it much harder to pace and avoid brain crashes.

I get exhausted from strong emotions. Even being too happy. When I got my mobility scooter, I was so happy to have my world expanded that I crashed for two weeks and could not use it. – Donna Lee

Forest Rests His Brain

It is not just physical activity that impacts us, but also social interaction, emotional energy, and stress. All of these things add up to part of our energy ration. I need to spread out  these activities throughout day, and often must choose between them. – Forestvon

Heather Rests Her Brain

Cerebral activity can be just as energy-sapping as physical activity. The brain is a very energy-hungry part of our body. When we are concentrating, having intense conversations, experiencing emotions, or worrying about things, all that mental activity can take a huge toll on us.

Finding ways to turn off your brain and allowing yourself to rest is really important.  Completely resting doesn’t mean watching tv, doing crossword puzzles, listening to music, or doing crafts. It means unplugging and letting your brain rest.

Earplugs, sleep mask, darkened room, and maybe a white noise machine or a fan that blocks out distracting sounds. Anything that will just let you relax and possibly sleep. – Heather Shaw, RN

 JoAnn Rests Her Brain

I find mental work to be harder than physical. After I do any kind of mental work, I crash for a long nap. Some have been as long as 2 hours!

I have two kinds of brain rest: If I am not too tired, reading light fiction relaxes me. If I am really tired, lying my eyes closed and no external stimulus is the only thing that will work.

It’s very hard for me to shut my brain off. I have found if I keep a note book and small flash light by my bedside, when I am fretting, I write it all down on my to do list, so my mind can let it go. This has worked for me for years. Not only does my mind get off the merry go round but I actually remember stuff I would have forgotten. I also keep a notebook of things that I do get done, as I tended to think I wasn’t doing anything, but written down it made me realize I was more active than I had realized.

I find music to be detrimental to me frequently, even songs I normally love.The only way I can drive is with the radio off. When I applied for disability, I got an IQ test from a psychologist. From the year I graduated high school, I lost a full 20 IQ points. – JoAnn Greenberg

Laura Rests Her Brain

Daily Mindfulness meditation helps reduce my symptoms and creates feelings of inner peace. It really works. There are many guided mindfulness meditations on YouTube. I was lucky enough to go to a meditation class taught by a former Buddhist monk before I became housebound. – Laura Vigiano

Ricky Rests Her Brain

Try slowed down audio!

If lying in the dark with just silence is driving you up the wall, listening to SLOWED DOWN spoken word (podcasts, audiobooks) takes less brain power than regular speed. Pick something that’s not super emotional to listen to – thrillers are not recommended. Young adult books are awesome because the storyline is usually a bit simpler.

Look for a speed adjusting button on your audiobook or podcast app. These can be hard to find but they usually say something like “1x” or “100%” in their default state. Click it and you’ll get different speeds – usually 0.75x or 75% or similar is a good speed (about three quarters normal speed) if that’s an option. This works like a charm on my iPhone with Audible and iBooks and Overcast (a podcast app) but the built in Apple podcasts app only has a half speed option which is TOO slow for my brain.

When you first set something to low speed, it will sound kind of monotonous and droning. Don’t worry about that, just let it wash over you and you’ll find that after about a half an hour your brain is adjusted and it just sounds like normal speech but more restful. After that you can listen to it any time with little to no adjustment needed. – Ricky Buchanan

Learn More

Lenka and Susan Do Literally Nothing

Ricky Buchanan: geek-creative-disabled-bedridden-internet-citizen

How Do I Know if I Have ME?

How to Do Less

How to Practice Pacing

How Did You Get Others to Understand That Activity Makes You Worse?

Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working.

Updated May 2019. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:


8 thoughts on “How to Rest Your Brain”

  1. Reading this was an eye opener . It’s exactly what happens to me. Have to withdraw to my room and just lie down – no noise at all . Happens every afternoon .
    Can’t cope with the buzz of people around me !
    Good to read the advice


  2. This is so helpful for me. Fast talking and even long talking people have been more than a struggle for me for a long time. Helps to know that it’s not just me too. I feel like the world is on energy drinks…….


  3. I found this article to be rewarding in many ways, especially with the seasons changing I’m adjusting and this article gave me a lot of great information on how to actually feel better.


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