Have you ever felt emotionally drained? In some moments of our lives, we go through situations of stress, anxiety, problems, personal and work demands, and if all this extends over time we can be emotionally exhausted. Emotional exhaustion is an experience in which the person feels that s/he does not have enough capacity to face the day-to-day on a psychological level: s/he has accumulated such a level of fatigue that s/he has become incapacitated.
Emotional exhaustion is an experience in which the person feels that s/he does not have enough capacity to face the day.
In this way, emotional exhaustion arises when important life changes come and there is a previous history of pending problems or unsolved situations. This fatigue is the result of demanding more from our coping system than it can give, or of not giving it time to recover between challenges. In other words, having several problems or challenges in a row also drains us emotionally because in between, we do not have time to recover the invested energy.
Emotional exhaustion is an experience in which the person feels that they do not have sufficient capacity to face the day-to-day on a psychological level and they have a level of mental fatigue that can be disabling.
Likewise, emotional exhaustion creates the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed, and with a real feeling of being mentally fatigued. All these sensations, of course, prevent us from moving forward: the smallest of tasks becomes a very steep ramp which we cannot climb or we do it with great effort.
For you can get an idea of what emotional exhaustion is (if you have not experienced it) you can do a visualization exercise: remember the fatigue you have felt after having accumulated several hours working, now imagine that at the end of that day work would begin again and again. Every time you feel more tired, your performance is worse and your thoughts you are more negative.
How to detect emotional exhaustion?
To identify if you have emotional exhaustion, you first have to do a little research on what situations or problems you have had in the last three / four / five months. Taking into account a wide time frame is essential. Since emotional exhaustion requires an accumulation of demands and stress, and it can also emerge once you have already solved your problems or once the “storm has passed.” Then, you must self-observe and identify, if any, any of these symptoms:
- Nervous state or discomfort most of the day.
- Somatizations, such as stomach, back, neck or head pain more than twice a week.
- Concentration and feeling of memory loss even on important issues that at another time in your life you would not have neglected or forgotten.
- Lack of motivation or low mood.
- Feelings of being overwhelmed and without strength to continue.
- Sleep problems.
- Substance use or addiction
- Hypersensitivity and irritability.
- Difficulty connecting with the here and now.
What are the consequences of emotional exhaustion?
If all these symptoms are not stopped in time, it result in serious problems such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders (such as panic attacks or general anxiety) and medical illness, such as ulcers or gastrointestinal problems.
Likewise, emotional exhaustion brings significant self-esteem problems mainly because the person feels overwhelmed and stops remembering her/his achievements and trusting her/his abilities.
Under the umbrella of emotional exhaustion, the feeling of incapacity grows, of being very small in a very large world.
Emotional exhaustion brings significant self-esteem problems mainly because we feel overwhelmed and stop remembering our achievements and trusting our abilities.
Tips to combat emotional exhaustion
- Mark your limits and responsibilities.
- Set limits and give yourself opportunities, allow yourself mistakes. If you grant yourself this permission, you will be able to enjoy what they offer you: an opportunity to learn. Thus, each challenge you undertake will never be an investment that only gives losses. You will stop considering it that way and, therefore, it will stop feeding your negative internal dialogue. Yes, the one that exhausts you, and a lot.
- Find times when you can relax. To empty the backpack of emotional exhaustion, it will be necessary for you to stop and disconnect. It is about having moments that are for you, simply to distract you and connect with your personal needs.
- Give yourself permission to focus on “one thing at a time” and leave for tomorrow what doesn’t fit on your agenda today. It is important to stop doing several things at once if you want to combat emotional exhaustion.
- Learn to express your emotions in a healthy way. Knowing how to express emotions means more than “saying how you feel”, rather we mean incorporating quality into that communication to facilitate empathy from others. In this sense, keeping an emotional diary can be a tool that helps you a lot to express yourself and detach yourself from your thoughts. Make sure you are not experiencing emotional abuse from your social circle or loved ones. In times of social distance it is easy to have boundaries be challenged.
Finally, if you are trying to combat emotional exhaustion and you are not able to, you should know how to ask for help and go to a professional who will make an evaluation and guide you on what strategies to use in each case.
Emotional exhaustion is a risk to physical and mental health and we must know how to combat it.
For mental health prevention, awareness comes first in order to reach out for help. Self care is imminent and when this does not work or a surrounding is hindering, help is critical.
At La Jolla Recovery, we want to make sure that emotional exhaustion or burnout may be co-ocurring to substance use disorders such as drug and alcohol abuse. The rehabilitation journey might be one that requires attending some of the symptoms of emotional axhaustion as well as mental health. La Jolla Recovery wants to help if you need referral to a mental health professional and attend your needs.