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All You Need To Know About Emotional Exhaustion

Have you ever felt that you reached your saturation point, emotionally? If yes, it’s likely that you have experienced or are experiencing emotional exhaustion. 

  • Emotional Exhaustion is a state of feeling emotionally worn-out and drained as a result of accumulated stress from your personal or work lives, or a combination of both. Emotional exhaustion is also one of the signs of burnout. People experiencing it often feel like they have no power or control over what happens in life. It feels like being “stuck” or “trapped” in a situation. 

Anyone experiencing long-term stress can become emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed. It’s kind of like physical tiredness, except it’s your mind instead of your muscles. It tends to show up when you focus on a mentally tough task for a while. You might also feel this kind of brain drain if you’re always on alert or stressed out. 

We all experience stress, but when stress is too high, we lose our sense of control and our energy. When that happens our emergency response system triggers an adrenaline rush. Our natural mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin, gets used up and starts running low. So now on top of dealing with stress, you’re also dealing with adrenaline side effects which may include a racing heart, sweating, or rapid breathing. If you’re feeling drained and don’t think you can’t bounce back naturally, you may be experiencing emotional exhaustion.

Lack of energy, poor sleep, and decreased motivation can make it difficult to overcome emotional exhaustion. Over time, this chronic, stressed-out state can cause permanent damage to your health. 

As mentioned, it usually happens because of prolonged periods of chronic stress. 

Some more identified causes can be-

  • High-pressure jobs, such as police officers, doctors, nurses, etc.
  • Working long hours
  • Or working on a job you don’t like
  • Having a baby
  • Being a caregiver
  • Relationship struggles
  • Financial stress
  • Losing loved ones
  • Having a lack of control over own life
  • Chronic illness
  • Lack of social support

These are some potential triggers identified that can lead to emotional exhaustion.

Emotional exhaustion has physical, mental and emotional symptoms- 

Physical symptoms include: Headache, weight gain/loss, fatigue, heart palpitations, sore muscles, change in appetite, etc

Mental symptoms include: Brain fog, forgetfulness, mental exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, difficulty in concentrating, “zoning out”, etc.

Emotional symptoms include: Feeling drained, feeling like a failure, more pessimistic, apathy, hopelessness, lack of motivation, increased irritability, anxiety and/or depression, etc.

These challenges affect the person’s ability to perform and may lead to low engagement in work/study, increase in leaves, low productivity, poor performance, difficulty in meeting deadlines, etc.

Making certain lifestyle changes to help alleviate symptoms of emotional exhaustion. These techniques won’t be easy to carry out at first, but it gets easier with a disciplined routine and time. Small changes in everyday routine will help in managing the symptoms and preventing exhaustion to an extent.

  • First step is to recognize the situations or circumstances that depletes you. After recognition of the stimulus, limiting its exposure.
  • Next step is to recognize and acknowledge stressful feelings and then reappraising those experiences.

A few more ways are-

  • Taking refueling/replenishing breaks
  • Limiting unhealthy coping mechanisms like, alcohol abuse
  • Getting physically active
  • Creating a morning routine
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation and gratitude
  • Find more creative ways to nurture your mental, emotional and physical health.

Let's Conclude!

Making healthy lifestyle choices, creating a healthy routine, aiming for work-life balance, taking care of your mental and emotional health are things that can help us reduce the symptoms and prevent from going into exhaustion.