Emotional Exhaustion: All you need to know

by cadabamshospital

12 October,2021 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is Emotional Exhaustion?
Emotional Exhaustion is the leading sign of burnout caused due to prolonged stress in a work-life and personal life.

People experiencing emotional Exhaustion often have an overwhelming feeling of not being in control of the day is one identifying sign of Exhaustion set in. Described as 'feeling drained' or 'mentally tired,' emotional Exhaustion develops slowly over time. It starts to negatively affect the physical, emotional, and social aspects of one's life. 

What causes Emotional Exhaustion?
The predominant cause of Exhaustion lies in the disturbance caused by the work/life balance. Daily the body experiences many stressful situations, called triggers; these triggers elicit a response in the body, i.e., walking into a meeting with the boss; would lead to nervousness and sweating. When these triggers cause significant reactions in the body, the primary feeling is that of anxiety. 

Due to prolonged exposure to harmful triggers, this anxiety response turns into chronic stress, leading to mental and physical Exhaustion in the form of burnout. 

Though each person experiences life differently, here are a few triggers that can cause chronic stress-

  • Chronic Stress
  1. High-pressure jobs (overworking) /High-intensity academics (overachieving) 
  2. Financial stress
  3. Pandemic fatigue 
  4. Loss of a loved one  
  5. Caregiver anxiety and depression 

How to identify signs of Emotional Exhaustion?
The burnout process is slow, and it is difficult to recognize the symptoms of the Exhaustion that has set in. There is more than one way you can identify the signs in yourself or a loved one; the signs/symptoms for emotional Exhaustion include the following:

  • Physical Signs of Exhaustion 
  1. Frequent Headaches and Body Aches 
  2. Reduced appetite 
  3. Troubled sleep 
  4. Irritable Digestion 
  5. Frequent illnesses ( weak immune system)

These five signs are a few examples of how Exhaustion manifests itself in the body. The primary identifying trait to look out for is the physical signs your body is giving you. Follow up with them to understand how they affect your daily life.

Mental Exhaustion, unlike physical signs, has a more complex set of identifying traits, some of which are-

  • Emotional Signs of Exhaustion 
  1. Anger and Increased Irritability 
  2. Feeling of hopelessness 
  3. Guilt of failure 
  4. Low motivation and drive to accomplish tasks 
  5. Apathy 

At any point, if these signs, physical and emotional, seem overwhelming to you and pose an imminent danger to your health, reach out to a helpline/ mental health professional; (insert helpline). 

Emotional Exhaustion often results in people engaging in dysfunctional behavior. These are a few examples of behavioral changes to look out for.

  • Behavioral signs of Exhaustion 
  1. Substance use, abuse
  2. Isolation 
  3. Procrastination 
  4. Self-harm
  5. Absenteeism 

At any point, if you or your loved one engage in self-harm or substance abuse, reach out to a helpline/ mental health professional. You can reach out to us at: +91 9741 476 476.

How to overcome Emotional Exhaustion?
The recovery process from emotional Exhaustion can start by making many small (achievable) lifestyle changes over some time. These are ways through which you can overcome mental and emotional Exhaustion:

Physical Health

  • Exercise
    Over some time, gradually introduce yourself to different exercises that act as a stress release and reduce the pain felt throughout the body, for instance, Walking, Jogging, and Yoga.
  •  Limit screen time
    Schedule breaks for yourself where you slowly adjust your body to rest and recoup with work-related stress.
  • Consult a physician
    Consult a doctor/ physician to know more about strengthening the immune system and having a stable appetite.

Emotional Health

  • Sleep
    Allow yourself time to rest at the end of the day, sleep for more than 6 hours and reduce distractions that may come during this period of rest.
  • Eliminate the trigger
    In cases where no resolution exists within the workplace, consider eliminating the stressor. For instance, if a project you manage gets overwhelming, ask for help on the same or change roles while dealing with it.
  • Practice Mindfulness
    Practicing mindfulness meditations/ taking mindfulness courses helps increase tolerance to stressful situations and regulate mood changes.

Social Health

  • Reach out for help
    You can reach out to a friend, a colleague, and a family member; and share your experiences with burnout. Social support increases motivation to make positive lifestyle changes.
  • Set boundaries
    Allow yourself to set boundaries and prioritize life, keeping your holistic health in mind. It will reduce the feeling of guilt for saying yes to extra work and unwanted social interaction.
  • Consult a mental health professional
    In challenging times like these, it is always prudent to hear from a professional. Like a physician can help with your physical health, a mental health professional can assist you by providing necessary treatment.

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