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We often focus our time and energy on whether or not we are getting the nutrition and sleep that we require to avoid wearing ourselves out physically, without taking the time to consider the other potential types of exhaustion that could be holding us back.

Physical burnout is a very real struggle, but so too is the existence of mental and emotional exhaustion. This is a wide spectrum, ranging from those that simply feel overwhelmed and require a break in life, to those whose exhaustion has escalated to the point of depression or anxiety. Regardless of where you currently fall on the scale, if you are battling these feelings of being burnt out, worn down and unable to maintain your current routine it can have a profound impact on your life.

Sometimes this condition will come around as the result of a major traumatic event, requiring a great deal of your mental and emotional abilities in order to make it through. Consider the loss of a loved one, surviving an event like a car crash or a house fire, or any other major event. For others, this feeling could the result of a number of smaller or ongoing situations, slowly building up and accumulating until such time that you feel the last drop hit the bucket of what you are able to handle. Regardless of how it came to be, when you reach the stage of mental and emotional exhaustion you need to recognize that you can’t simply keep plugging forward. This is your mind and heart telling you that you need to take a step back and address your own health and well-being before you can continue to provide for everyone else.

The most difficult part, especially for those that have been fighting through challenges and struggles for an extended period of time, is often identifying when you have hit this stage in your life. While there is no neon sign flashing over your head, there are a number of signs that you can watch for, indicators that you need to make yourself a priority in life.

Pay Attention to These 9 Signs That You Are Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted:

#1 – Sadness

This is arguably the best-known of the signs, and yet far too often shrugged off in our lives. If you are feeling sad or upset with no known reason, this may be the sign that something is off emotionally or mentally. This may present in a number of ways, including feeling overwhelmed, numb, unable to cry or unable to control your tears. If you notice that your emotions are off with no logical explanation (if you’re dealing with a sad situation, sadness isn’t alarming at that moment) then pay attention. Your mind is trying to tell you something.

#2 – Difficulty Sleeping/Sleeping Too Much

Your emotions have a unique ability to impact your biological clock, altering your natural internal schedule. When this happens, it can throw your life out of balance, and sleep is often the first noticeable change. You may find that you struggle to sleep, or suffer from interrupted sleep, regularly waking back up, tossing and turning. On the other hand, you may also find yourself completely exhausted and trying to remedy it by sleeping far more than usual. Depending on the individual in question, both are recognized signs of mental and emotional exhaustion.

#3 – Short on Patience

When someone is suffering from this type of exhaustion, they will often find themselves lost within their own mind, distracted by internal dialogue and an overwhelming amount of emotions constantly bombarding their thoughts. As you can imagine, this never-ending internal dialogue can make it incredibly difficult to focus on any specific task. While to others this will come across as being completely impatient or short, if they could spend even a moment inside your mind, they would understand why! That’s a lot for any one person to handle all at the same time.

#4 – Anxiety or Panic Attacks

This isn’t a sign that is shared by everyone, however, for some this is a clear indicator that something is happening. If you are handling an overwhelming amount of stress, either from an outside source, or from your own mind while managing this difficult time, you may notice that you begin to experience anxiety attacks or panic attacks more frequently. This is literally your body sending you a message, telling you that you need to heal yourself before you can keep going. Listen to it.

#5 – Easily Irritated

When you hit the point of being completely exhausted, you may find that it takes less to ‘set you off’ than it normally would. During these times of our lives we are highly stressed, and this stress over time is a lot to weigh on someone’s mind. Rather than being your normal, patient self, you suddenly can’t be bothered to find the energy and focus to try to handle little annoyances, instead feeling irritated that you are even having to address them.

#6 – Change in Appetite

When you consider the close biological tie between your hormonal balance and your emotional state, it should come as no surprise that mental and emotional exhaustion is often coupled with such an imbalance. This shift in your hormones and neurotransmitters doesn’t just impact emotions, it can also impact your digestive system, altering your appetite. Depending on the balance, you may notice that you are eating far more, hungry all the time, or you may lose your appetite entirely.

#7 – Your Focus is Internal as Opposed to External

Regardless of how social and outgoing you normally are, when someone is dealing with emotional or mental exhaustion, the mind is going to direct it’s focus towards the area in their lives that needs the attention most and that is their personal well-being. This internal focus may be observed in a number of different behaviors including a period of withdrawal from family and friends, or a sudden loss of interest in activities that they once enjoyed. Instead, their mind is focused on their own emotional and mental state, shutting out everything that is going on around them.

#8 – Lack of Motivation

Have you ever pulled an all-nighter and then tried to be productive the next day? Are you ready to get out and be active the next day, or are you merely longing for the opportunity to relax and recharge? This need for rest and relaxation isn’t just a physical feeling. If you are completely drained mentally and emotionally, you have nothing left to give. The body is wired at this point to encourage you to slow down and give it an opportunity to recharge, whether you like it or not. This generally presents itself as a complete lack of motivation to do anything.

#9 – Nausea or Dizziness

While these are physical symptoms, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the result of a physical cause. If you have hit the point where your mind and body literally cannot continue in this way, and you are on the verge of a complete breakdown, then your body is going to resort to more extreme measures in order to deliver this warning. It may force you to slow down by making you feel dizzy, shaky, or unsteady, or by an intense dread that manifest as feelings of nausea. If you have hit this stage, take it seriously! NOW is the time to take care of yourself, before it’s too late.