Mental Exhaustion: Definition, Causes, Signs, Tips, & More

Are you constantly feeling overwhelmed or mentally drained? If so, you might be suffering from mental exhaustion, a symptom of prolonged stress, that can undermine the quality of your life significantly. However, the good news is that the power to take charge of your life lies within you.

This article will tell you everything you need to know: the causes of mental exhaustion, its symptoms, how it differs from physical exhaustion, and how to cope. Importantly, we tell you how online therapy can help with it.

What Is Mental Exhaustion?

Mental exhaustion is an accumulation of stress. It’s also called burnout. It is when your mind feels so tired to the extent that it undermines your daily life. Mental exhaustion happens when you focus on a mentally draining activity for some time or when you are under stress for a prolonged time.

Causes of Mental Exhaustion

Mental exhaustion causes are as diverse as they can get. Basically, anything that drains you emotionally and stresses you can be a cause of mental exhaustion.

Here are some examples:

  • An emotionally demanding job
  • Chronic stress
  • Mental health issues
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Physical fatigue, disease, or injury
  • Life’s challenges
  • Grief and loss, etc.

Symptoms of Mental Exhaustion

Mental exhaustion symptoms can either be physical, emotional, or behavioral. They vary from one person to another and often manifest gradually, usually during stressful times. When the stress persists for a long time, you can get to a point where you feel overwhelmed.

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That said, it’s important to note that you do not have to exhibit every symptom there is. You just need to always be on the lookout for various signs so you can easily tell if you are starting to exhaust yourself mentally.

Let’s now take a look at the symptoms within each category.

Emotional Symptoms

The emotional symptoms of mental exhaustion include:

  • Detachment from activities and people
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Being pessimistic
  • Anger
  • Apathy
  • Hopelessness
  • Fear
  • Reduced productivity
  • Trouble concentrating on things
  • Demotivation

Physical Symptoms

Knowing the physical signs of mental exhaustion will go a long way in helping you stay ahead of it.

  • Headache
  • Digestive problems
  • Body pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Appetite changes
  • Insomnia
  • Loss or gain of weight
  • Getting cold or flu

Behavioral Symptoms

When you are mentally exhausted, your behavior is bound to change in some way.

  • Reduced performance at the workplace
  • Withdrawing or isolating from others
  • Trouble sticking to commitments
  • Excusing yourself from work often

Mental Exhaustion vs. Physical Exhaustion

When you are physically exhausted, you can still be “mentally active.” Even so, physical exhaustion can exhaust you mentally, especially if you have strenuous physical activity during your days.

For some of us, emotional signs can exhibit as physical, for example, when anxiety makes your heart beat faster. Furthermore, chronic mental exhaustion can trigger physical health issues like a headache or muscle pain.

Those who experience physical fatigue should consider reducing the pressure they put on their bodies. This way, they can avoid compounding mental exhaustion with physical one, which can be pretty overwhelming.

Coping with Mental Exhaustion: 7 Tips

So, how can you manage mental fatigue so that it doesn’t drag you down? Here are 7 tips:

1. Step Away from the Stressors

Eliminating things, people, and situations that give you stress can help keep you mentally healthy. However, there are some things that you can’t remove from your life altogether, like work and family. But you can seek help.

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At work, you can take a few days off or delegate some tasks to your colleagues. If you’re overwhelmed taking care of a family member, you can get a caregiver to assist you. The important thing is if you can’t eliminate it, step away from it a little.

2. Keep Yourself Organized

Take time to tidy up. Organize not just your physical surroundings but your mental space too. Decluttering is about separating your priorities from the non-essential things.

In most cases, we stress about things that aren’t really a priority. Organizing your headspace can help you re-focus on what’s important to you and keep you motivated.

3. Take Small Breaks to Rest Your Mind

Taking a break can help prevent burnout when you’re feeling fatigued. However, it can be several days before you have a long break from things like work.

When you need to rest your mind, take advantage of the small pockets of time you have to yourself during the day. Instead of checking your feed, you can use these times in your day to relax using any technique you like.

4. Try Mindfulness Exercises  

Mindfulness is a technique where you intently focus on your present senses and feelings without interpreting or judging them. It includes exercises like deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, and other relaxation methods.

Mindfulness practices can help counter mentally draining thoughts and are good for reducing/managing stress. You can use these exercises to guide your mind away from your stressors and the situations around you.

5. Prioritize Self-Care and Self-Love

Self-care is about building a healthy relationship with yourself to promote your physical, mental, and emotional wellness. However, for many people, overworking has become a badge of honor. And even when free, most people spend their time doing things that please others and not themselves.

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When you practice self-care, you start prioritizing your needs. You can begin taking more care of yourself with these tips:

  • Recognize your worth
  • Find a healthy balance between work and life
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Prioritize your well-being
  • Love yourself
  • Start working out regularly

6. Sleep More 

Are you struggling with mental exhaustion from work? Commit to only what you can realistically achieve. If you find that work is interfering with your sleeping hours, you’re most likely overcommitting.

Remember, lack of enough sleep can cause as well as aggravate mental fatigue. So, aim to sleep for at least 8 hours a night. If you struggle to fall asleep, make sure that your bed is comfortable, and your room is dark and peaceful.

7. Start Journaling

Mental exhaustion is usually linked with overwhelming negative thoughts and emotions. One way to manage these thoughts and feelings is to keep a journal.

Offload your feelings and emotions by writing them down. Also, use your journal to remind yourself of the things you are thankful for as well as what you have achieved.

When to Seek Professional Help with Mental Exhaustion

You can definitely overcome mental fatigue and live a more fulfilling life. The above tips can get you started on the journey to recovery. However, you may also need the guidance of a licensed therapist.

Therapy can teach you how to overcome mental exhaustion. Talking to an online therapist on Calmerry can help you identify your stressors and experiences causing burnout. By attending regular sessions, you can work through your mental exhaustion and any other mental health issues.

Author bio

Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling.

Follow Kate here:

Originally posted 2021-06-19 00:10:28.


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