These are the signs you’re emotionally exhausted (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)
We all know what physical fatigue feels like all too well, but did you know you can feel emotionally exhausted too?
Emotional exhaustion is one of the many symptoms of burnout, a phenomenon that’s weaved in and out of headlines, social media posts and appeared all over TikTok in the last few years, as discussions about what makes a healthy work-life balance have become the norm.
We’re all getting a lot better at prioritising our mental health at work, in our relationships and with our family members, but often emotional exhaustion slips under the radar until it’s already wreaked havoc.
While emotional exhaustion isn’t a recognised mental illness, it is important to learn more about so that you can spot, manage, and prevent it, as it can take a huge toll on your body and your wellbeing.
What does emotional exhaustion look like?
Emotional exhaustion can take many different shapes and forms, and it’s important to remember that emotional issues look very different from individual to individual. What’s emotionally exhausting for one person, might seem like no big deal to another person. So, it’s important to give ourselves and others a break and save any judgement.
According to an Instagram post published by psychologist Dr Lalita, emotional exhaustion can look like:
Everything you do feeling forced
Isolating yourself by pushing people away
Finding it difficult to concentrate or pay attention
Lacking motivation or purpose
Feeling overwhelmed or anxious
Being impatient with others and lacking compassion
So, how is emotional exhaustion caused?
Anyone can suffer from emotional exhaustion for a number of reasons. But according to counselling service company Better Help, there are certain types of people who may be more at risk of emotional exhaustion. They say professionals in a high stress environment, high achievers, people who neglect themselves and have unhealthy coping strategies, and lonely people are more vulnerable to this brand of burnout.
In the same post, Dr Lalita puts emotional exhaustion like this: ‘Imagine you put a bottle under a tap and turn it on… eventually the bottle will overflow unless you empty out the bottle to make room for the water.’
This analogy can be applied to our brains. Before filling ourselves up with other people’s problems, responsibilities and emotions, we have to replenish ourselves.
Put simply, emotional exhaustion occurs when we’re experiencing constant stress. This can occur at home, when people are going through breakups, frequent arguments with a partner or ongoing issues with flatmates.
Or, we can experience stress in the workplace from simple stressors like having too much work on our plate or being confused about our work responsibilities, to more serious issues like being bullied or harassed in the workplace.
When we undergo prolonged stress without intervening, it’s easy to see how we end up miserable, tired and unmotivated.
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