You don't even realize that it's happening, but when you do finally notice, you are already in it too deep. But if you have the strength to get back on track, hope is not lost.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 26, 2021. It has since been updated.
You don’t know when it began or how the emotional battle started. But after days of struggling, one day you got out of bed and thought "I can’t do this anymore." You looked in the mirror and almost couldn’t recognize yourself, because the old glow and that bright smile had both faded away. And you just feel… empty.
You shouldered the stress of your work and personal life for far too long, allowing the stress to build up inside you. Now, you feel worn-out, lost, stuck or trapped. You feel like you’ve lost all control over your life and the effects of low energy, poor sleep, and low motivation don’t help either. But it’s never too late to turn things around and recover from this. The sooner you realize you have been struggling with the following symptoms, the earlier you can help yourself recover from mental and emotional exhaustion:
Not only do you wake up feeling tired, but you just feel drained and depleted. Instead of looking forward to what lies ahead, you are weary about the day and cannot positively look forward to what’s coming. You no longer have the self-esteem that you once did, and you have started withdrawing yourself from social situations. Neither to your work and nor to your personal life do you give the same importance or attention anymore. Sometimes you don’t even try to make the effort to connect with people emotionally. And you have been taking way more leaves from work than you used to.
On one hand, the feelings of being trapped can make you feel depressed, and you start doubting yourself and your self-worth. On the other hand, you feel easily frustrated and angry, which can build up and you might have spells of severe outbursts. As time goes by, you may find that your behavior at work has also completely changed. If you would rarely get into arguments with your colleagues before, now you may have started acting out on them.
For a while now, you have been lying awake in bed for too long, struggling to fall asleep. Even if you do manage to fall asleep somehow, after a while you find yourself staring at the ceiling and unable to fall back to sleep again. This can take a toll on your mood and your performance the next day. You might find that you have to pull yourself out of bed and drag yourself through your daily tasks with no mood to effectively tackle them. No matter how exhausted you feel, you still can’t seem to get the restful sleep you need.
When your body carries the burden of emotional and mental exhaustion, it physically affects you in a number of ways. You no longer feel hungry or have the same appetite as before. The scale might show that you have lost or gained some weight. You have also been experiencing problems with your digestion. Other physical symptoms include experiencing chest pains, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. You notice that headaches have become more frequent than before and you run out of breath very quickly. Take extra care if you experience dizziness or feel like you might faint. And don’t think twice before seeking medical help.
If you find that you’re not thinking straight anymore, it could be because the exhaustion if jeopardizing your thinking capacity and your memory. You find yourself confused and unusually forgetful, and you’re not able to concentrate on what you’re supposed to do. All of a sudden, you find yourself struggling to meet your deadlines or complete tasks on time. At work, you feel pressurized but you’re still unable to effectively fulfill your responsibilities and meet your work demands.
Your body no longer has the same resilience it once used to. Growing emotionally vulnerable makes you physically vulnerable too. Your body, along with your immune system, weakens over time and this makes you more prone to catching colds, infections, flu, and other health conditions.
As time progresses, you are being pushed closer and closer to a burnout. You find it unable to cope with what you’re going through and feel alienated at work. Not only do you feel isolated from your tasks, your colleagues and your work responsibilities, but at home, it affects your attitude towards your family as well. A feeling of numbness takes over your thoughts and actions.
Small changes to your lifestyle and your routine can make a world of difference to your mental and emotional health. If you find that the major source of stress in your life is a new job or a new boss or a new company, consider switching your department. If you’re considering quitting your job for your own benefit, that’s okay too and it’s not as big a risk as you think if your emotional health is on the line.
Try finding things that ease your emotions out and help you relax. Try new things like meditation, sign up for yoga, head out for nature walks or take on something different that helps you relax and forget about your stress. This helps you increase your mindfulness, and while it sounds like a small thing, it can have a great impact on your mind and your body.
Work on your sleep hygiene. Get into the habit of getting eight to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep. Avoid having caffeine or using a screen before bedtime; instead, do things that help you relax rather than stimulate your mind.
If you have been meaning to take a vacation, this would be the best time to take it. A break or a change of scene could help you in multiple ways. Being disconnected from people is both a risk for as well as a symptom of emotional exhaustion. Start connecting with your loved ones or somebody you know you can trust. Let them know what you’re going through and they will make the healing process a lot easier for you.
Don’t hesitate to seek professional help. If you feel like talking to a professional can help you and make you tie the loose ends better, then allow yourself to go down that path.
Disclaimer: This article is based on facts collated from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.