Emotional Exhaustion — The Heart Needs Rest, Even When It’s Not Broken

Emotional exhaustion and mental health

The early signs of emotional exhaustion are easy to misread. Whenever chipper morning people start waking up a little more sunny-side down, we blame an increased workload. If the friendly mail carrier becomes withdrawn and sullen, they must have family trouble. When we struggle to get out of bed or keep up energy during the day, we assume that we are not getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, the simplest explanation is not always the correct one.

Unlike more overbearing disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety, emotional exhaustion does not mean an immediate visit with your physician. With all the information and hotlines available, people can get educated advice first. Listed below are some steps to take to ease emotional exhaustion. Do try these at home!

    • Detox. Your medicine cabinets and wine nooks are safe. This is for all the people and things in your daily life that trigger negative emotional responses. Things like the drama between co-workers at lunch, the argument you had with your brother or sister and the people at the coffee shop that made you late for your appointment all take an emotional toll. Offer kind words to people at work. Call back your sibling, apologize and confide your exhaustion. Change the time you normally go for coffee. If diplomacy fails, remove toxic people and situations completely. One less cringe is one more step toward regaining emotional freedom.
    • Exercise and Healthy Diet. There is no need to panic. You do not have to give up your favorite foods or choose a grueling workout. While stimulants such as caffeine and sugar can have a negative impact on all emotional issues, total deprivation makes you cranky and adds to the exhaustion. You want to cut back, not cut out. Mix some decaf in your coffee or replace a chocolate bar with peanut butter twice a week. Moderation is the key. The same principle applies to exercise. Go window-shopping before the stores open. You can squeeze in some mild cardio without spending any money, and keep your mind off of the fact that you are exercising. These healthier habits get easier as the emotional flow regains balance.
    • Meditate. Melt away your exhaustion in a warm bath and remember all the things that make you smile. Put on soothing music, lie down with a cool cloth over your face and pretend you have a migraine. Let people know you need a little quiet time for a couple of times a week. Most importantly, do not allow yourself to feel guilty for doing so. You cannot be the “you” that your loved ones need while exhaustion and emotional turmoil linger.
    • Hobbies. Emotional exhaustion can kick your get-up-and-go right out the door. The temptation to lie in bed and watch TV all day gets fierce. It is good to relax, but be cautious. Emotional exhaustion turns into full-blown depression for many people. Find things you love to do. Drive to the beach. Enjoy a picnic in a place with serene emotional vibes. Take a trip to the local art museum. Do things that inspire you to do anything except crawl back into bed. Once things in which you find great pleasure stimulate your mind, the mental burdens detach themselves and the emotional exhaustion ebbs.
    • Write it down. This is one of the oldest pieces of advice for mental and emotional triggers. Pour all of your exhaustion onto a piece of paper. Scribble a nasty letter of things you could never say aloud. Then share what you have written, hide the notebook, throw it away, or even burn it. The relief of watching those words disappear makes intimidating manageable. You can clear your mind and focus on a solution, not the exhaustion that your problems bring.

The next time you find yourself fighting exhaustion too often or accepting failure on things you have not even attempted to do, start with these tips. Notify your doctor so that he or she is can cater to your unique emotional and medical history, but you do not need to rush into the office right away. Keep a progress journal to keep him or her updated and reach out to the people who love you for support. Emotional exhaustion is not an impossible battle, but it is much less frightening when you have loving people rooting for you!

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