• Are You Suffering from Mental Exhaustion?

    by Caroline Ryther
    on Oct 29th, 2018

Although it’s often mistaken for stress, mental exhaustion is actually what happens after a person is exposed to long-term stress. Picture it like this: when our bodies are under stress, our cortisol levels go up, in order to help us manage the stressful situation. However, when we’re continually dealing with stress, these levels never go back to normal, which eventually begins to interfere with our normal body functions, such as sleep, immune system, and digestion.

The result of long-term stress is mental exhaustion, which can leave you feeling emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and like there’s no way for you to overcome your problems. In a lot of cases, this can lead to apathy, which can severely affect your personal and work life. You might know this condition as “burnout”, although this is not an officially recognized term.

Symptoms of Mental Exhaustion

Mental exhaustion causes is followed by both physical and emotional symptoms, which vary from person to person, and usually show gradually. More often than not, an individual won’t recognize the signs right way, the stress will continue to weigh on them, and they may reach a point of feeling like there’s no way out of their situation.

Emotional signs of mental exhaustion may include depression, anxiety, apathy, cynicism or pessimism, detachment, feelings of hopelessness and dread, anger, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, and low productivity levels. Physical signs, on the other hand, can range from headaches and upset stomach, to insomnia, chronic fatigue, weight gain/loss, changes in appetite, and body aches.

Aside from emotional and physical signs, a person might also experience behavioral signs, such as poor performance at work, calling in sick with more frequency than usual, isolation or social withdrawal, and being unable to keep any commitments.

What Are the Causes of Mental Exhaustion?

Burnout or mental exhaustion is usually associated with being overworked or stressed out in the workplace, but the truth is that this condition can be caused by long-term stress in virtually any area of your life. Naturally, the triggers of mental exhaustion are not the same for everyone, but some are definitely more common than others.

Common causes of mental exhaustion include:

How Can You Cope with Mental Exhaustion?

As hard as it may seem to get out of the “mentally exhausted” mindset, there are certain lifestyle changes and techniques you can use to help you cope with stress and reduce the symptoms of this condition.

1. Eliminate the source of your stress—Although this may seem impossible at times, it is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you’re under a lot of pressure at work, ask your boss if they can delegate some of your tasks to someone else. If you’re caring for someone, try hiring a professional to give you a helping hand.

2. Rest and recharge—This is especially important if you’re struggling with mental exhaustion. Don’t be afraid to take a longer vacation or enjoy a couple of days all on your own. If that’s not possible, at least try walking home from work or going out with friends once a week.

3. Don’t forget to exercise—We’ve talked about the importance of exercise for your mental health more than once. Remember: it doesn’t need to be anything taxing, but if you spare 20 minutes per day to exercise, you’ll feel better both mentally and physically. A brisk walk could sometimes be enough!

4. Get more sleep—Get those eight hours of sleep whenever you can (every night would be preferable) and watch your emotional wellbeing bloom. If needed, develop a bedtime routine and stick to it—e.g. you can read a book every night before bed.

5. Use relaxation techniques—Yoga, tai chi, aromatherapy, and many other relaxation techniques have been scientifically recognized to lower anxiety and stress levels, so be sure to give some of them a try and see what works for you and what doesn’t.

If none of the coping mechanisms listed above help you fight mental exhaustion, don’t hesitate to seek out help from a mental health professional. A therapist might be able to do wonders for you and suggest new ways to help you deal with mental exhaustion. In some situations, they might even prescribe medications, such as antidepressants and sleep aids.

Struggling with mental exhaustion? You can schedule your consultation with Dr. Best at the Neuroscience Center as soon as today.

Schedule a consultation:

Phone: 847-306-8938

Email: pm@mind.md

Author Caroline Ryther

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