It’s hard to recognize exactly what you’re feeling when you’re already too busy and overwhelmed to think. Luckily, your body and brain often recognize it for you and will manifest it in different ways.
Here are some of the most common ways your body is telling you you’re emotionally exhausted.
Even The Smallest Emotions Consume You
Once you reach a high enough level of exhaustion, every little negative emotion threatens to push you over the edge. You’re basically hitting a saturation point of emotional overload.
It’s not the actual small inconvenience that’s the problem, but adding them up over time takes a toll, to the point where you can’t even tell what is exhausting you anymore.
You Are Easily Irritated Despite Being A Patient Person
God knows how much you love your friends and family, but lately, just about everyone is getting on your nerves, to the point where you’d rather stay huddled at home on a Friday night than actually deal with listening to any of them.
It’s at that point that you need to realize that you’re not processing your reactions the way you normally would because you need to take a step back to take care of yourself.
The Fatigue Never Ends
You’re at a level of tiredness that no amount of coffee can fix. You basically need to sleep for three days straight before you can even think straight.
Fatigue is different than normal tiredness. It’s more chronic and is often accompanied by feeling down and overwhelmed.
All You Want To Do Is Give Up
Feeling hopeless is a sign of emotional exhaustion. It’s the feeling that you keep fighting over and over, but it never seems to end, and you just have no more energy left, so why bother?
This is a dangerous point, as people will often accept their pain as permanent, so it’s better to ask for help.
You Feel Numb About Everything
Nothing feels good or exciting anymore, and you feel like you have nothing to look forward to. You begin to decline invitations, increasing the feelings of numbness or detachment even further.
Sometimes, it’s easier to feel disconnected from everything around you than to take on the stress of having to deal with it. This is the opportunity to look for support to help carry some of that weight.
You Feel Trapped In Life
The list never ends, and every time you feel like you finally overcame one thing, another is right there waiting for you. The lack of energy drains you, and you don’t feel like you can broaden your perspective and think positively or creatively to change your situation.
As a result, you feel like there’s no way out. This lack of motivation can develop into depression, anger, and irritability, or even manifest physically.
You’re Having Trouble Sleeping
You’re so tired all day, yet you can’t seem to fall asleep or stay asleep. Ironically, the overwhelming feeling of exhaustion keeps your mind racing. It’s too difficult to calm your brain at night.
It puts you in a vicious cycle where you wake up already feeling physically tired rather than rested and ready to take on whatever is on your plate.
You Feel Like Crying For No Good Reason
Crying is the body’s natural way of releasing tension, so even if you’re not aware, your body might physically take on your stress before you have time to mentally acknowledge it.
Also, since your feelings are amplified by your tiredness and stress, everything hits you harder and just piles on. Even if it wouldn’t normally upset you or you’re not usually a crier, reaching a high enough level of exhaustion will push anyone over the edge.
You Often Get Dizzy And Nauseated
Stress and exhaustion eventually take on a physical toll. For example, they can decrease or increase your appetite, or your muscles might get tense from subconsciously clenching to brace against whatever is hurting you. The same can happen with nausea and dizziness.
You Actually Get Ill
If you keep getting sick or your cold is lasting a lot longer than it should, odds are that your body is out of the energy it needs to properly protect you, keep in nutrients, and fight off bacteria, so it is more receptive to caving.
At that point, you need to actually take a break to give your body the rest it so desperately needs.
You Feel Like A Failure
You keep wishing you had done things differently so that maybe you wouldn’t be where you are now, and you start driving yourself crazy comparing to others and dwelling on “what ifs.” You’re under the illusion right now that you have nothing left to give, and all your efforts aren’t paying off.
It’s important in these moments to remember that all situations and feelings are temporary, and every day is a new opportunity to try again!
You Can’t Seem To Focus
Once the brain is overstimulated and pulled in a bunch of different directions, it becomes harder and harder to concentrate on just one thing. Brain fog is actually quite common with emotional exhaustion, because once you burn out, you harm your cognitive capacity (responsible for planning, memory, and attention).
This only aggravates feelings of dread and leaves you wanting to do nothing but stay in bed. Be careful, as this can lead to depression.
You’re Isolating Yourself
By the time you get through some of your responsibilities, you feel like you have no energy left to socialize or take care of yourself. You start to decline invitations, to avoid your partner, to sleep through family dinners, or to skip your weekly soccer practice.
You might even start to call in sick to work way more often because you can’t even get out of bed in the morning.
You’re Unintentionally Hurting Those Around You
As previously mentioned, you might be isolating yourself and being easily irritated right now. Consequently, your loved ones might start to feel it. They might feel neglected, get offended that you got upset with them, or not want to be around you because you’re constantly down.
This is the time to let them in and explain to them how you’ve been feeling, rather than pushing them away.
Panic Attacks Become More Frequent
Over time, stress and exhaustion begin to take a bigger toll, and the overwhelming feelings can push the body into fight or flight. This state can be powerful enough to cause panic attacks.
Panic attacks are really scary and can you make you feel completely helpless and hopeless, so it doesn’t hurt to have an appointed trusted person to call to bring you down from them.
You Start To Drink More Alcohol
There are many ways that people deal with stress and exhaustion, but alcohol is one of the most common. You might be thinking that you’re treating yourself to a glass of wine after a hard day, but be careful not to fall into a trap where you’re depending on harmful coping mechanisms rather than properly taking care of your physical and mental health.
Your Weight Suddenly Fluctuates
If you’re emotionally exhausted, you might be dealing with it in two ways. Some people feel too stressed to eat and can’t keep food down because of the nausea their exhaustion is causing.
Other people find comfort in food and don’t pay attention to enriching their bodies with the proper nutrients when tired. Either way, this can cause sudden weight gain or weight loss.
You Stop Doing Anything For Yourself
You used to love exercising and going for drinks, or starting your day with some yoga. While it’s completely okay to take a break from those things because you feel overwhelmed, if you’ve completely given them up, you might unintentionally be losing yourself to the exhaustion.
There’s A Way Out
No matter how stuck you feel in your exhaustion, you’re not. You have options that range from talking to a professional and trusting friends or family with how you’re feeling.
You could also alter your brain chemistry by releasing happy chemicals like endorphins in your body by doing things like exercise, even if moving feels like the last thing you want to be doing right now.
…And It Can Be Avoided
Even if these signs don’t currently apply to you but you’re worried about reaching this point, find comfort in knowing that you can prevent it.
Make sure that you’re always scheduling breaks, making use of vacation days, surrounding yourself with a good support system, and making the time for alone-time, even if it means putting responsibilities and obstacles on hold. They will still be there for you later.