In such a stressful world, it’s no surprise to hear more and more people reporting issues with burnout and mental exhaustion. We have to juggle bills, our physical health, a social life, and success at work with simply surviving day-to-day life. It’s enough to make anyone recede into themselves. How does this take a toll on the body?
What is Mental Exhaustion?
Anyone who endures long-term stress can succumb to mental exhaustion over time. It can make those suffering from it feel emotionally drained and overwhelmed. Simple tasks and responsibilities can seem insurmountable to tackle. Eventually, someone dealing with mental exhaustion may grow detached from their own life and the people around them – trapped by an endless feeling of powerlessness. While it can seem daunting to overcome at the moment, there are methods to kick mental exhaustion.
Common causes of mental exhaustion include:
- Poor social support system
- High-pressure work environment
- Job dissatisfaction
- Financial stress
- Living with a chronic illness
- Being a caregiver for an ill or aging loved one
- Death of a loved one
- Poor work-life balance
Signs That You’re Mentally Exhausted
Mental exhaustion is a step above everyday stress; it is the outcome of prolonged stress. Mental exhaustion occurs when your body doesn’t have a chance to decrease the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Over time, this can affect your body functions. You might notice issues with your sleep patterns, digestion, immune system, and more.
Mental and Emotional Symptoms
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Low emotional resilience
- Apathy or detachment
- Chronic feelings of being overwhelmed
- Feelings of hopelessness or dread
- A lack of motivation
- Trouble with concentration or productivity
- Poor performance at work or school
- Social withdrawal or isolation
- Upset stomach
- More aches and pains than usual
- Chronic fatigue
- Trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Undue weight gain or weight loss
- Weakened immune system
How to Overcome Mental Exhaustion
There is a light on the other side of mental exhaustion. The best way to combat your stress is to implement some lifestyle changes. Remember, this issue is the result of prolonged high levels of cortisol. The goal is to give your body a chance to lower those levels. There are plenty of techniques you can use to cope with stress and alleviate the symptoms of mental exhaustion. You can work towards a more balanced state on your own, with a therapist, psychiatrist, or another mental health physician. Follow these tips to start overcoming mental exhaustion:
- Remove the stressor
- Give yourself proper time to rest
- Stay physically active
- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Being in the moment (prayer, breathing exercises, etc.)
- Get more sleep
- Plug into gratitude
- Supplements such as Sleep by Nedley Health to help with sleep and/or Lavella which is anxiety relieving; Consider taking energy enhancing supplements in the morning such as L-tyrosine or Rhodiola Rosea
- Medications that are not habit forming, addictive, and won’t develop a tolerance such as hydroxyzine
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[i] Santos-Longhurst, Adrienne (2018). How to Treat and Prevent Mental Exhaustion. Healthline.
[ii] Van Cutsem, J., Marcora, S., De Pauw, K. (2017). The Effects of Mental Fatigue on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review. Sports Med 47, 1569–1588 .
[iii] A. White, Marney, & Zawn Villines (2020). Symptoms of mental exhaustion and tips to alleviate it. Medical News Today.
[iv] Kendra Cherry, Rachel Goldman (2021). What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)? Verywell Mind.
[vi] Turakitwanakan W, Mekseepralard C, Busarakumtragul P. (2013). Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand = Chotmaihet Thangphaet.