Emotional exhaustion: how to fight it?

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Louise Hay
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Emotional exhaustion: how to fight it?

Last update: April 08, 2020

Everyone experiences stressful situations, problems, excessive personal and professional demands and, if all this continues over time, we can find ourselves emotionally exhausted. Emotional exhaustion is an experience in which the person feels that he does not have sufficient skills to deal with his daily routine psychologically: has accumulated such a level of fatigue that she finds herself inhibited and unable.


We can therefore say that emotional exhaustion occurs when important changes occur and there are problems or unresolved situations. This fatigue occurs because we ask ourselves more than we can give or because we don't give ourselves the time to recover between one challenge and another. In other words, having several consecutive problems or challenges exhausts us emotionally because we don't have the time to recover the energy invested.


Emotional exhaustion is an experience in which the person feels he does not have sufficient capacity to deal with his daily life on a psychological level and experiences a level of mental fatigue that can become disabling.

It always feels like it oppressed, overwhelmed and, in a rather real and "objective" way, mentally fatigued. All these sensations prevent us from moving forward: the smallest of tasks becomes a very steep ramp along which we cannot climb or do it with great difficulty.

To better understand what emotional exhaustion is (if you have never experienced it), you can do a visualization exercise: remember the tiredness you felt after accumulating several hours of work, now imagine that at the end of this day it you have to start another, and then another… You feel more and more tired, your performance deteriorates and your thoughts are less and less positive.


Since emotional exhaustion has dire consequences for health, in this article we will explain how to understand if it is happening to you and we will suggest some strategies to overcome it. For them to be effective, you need to do them all consistently.


How to detect emotional exhaustion?

To understand if you are suffering from emotional exhaustion, first of all you need to investigate what situations or problems you have been facing in the last three / four / five months. We need to analyze a large time frame, since emotional exhaustion requires a build-up of demands and stress, and can surface after problem solving, when "the storm is over". You have to ask yourself if you have overcome a very demanding situation or that has forced you to remain always on the alert.

After that, you need to self-observe and detect, if any, some of these symptoms:

  • Nervousness or discomfort for most of the day.
  • Somatizations, such as stomach, back, neck or head pain more than twice a week.
  • Problems concentrating and feeling memory loss, even on important topics, which at other times in your life you would not have overlooked or forgotten.
  • Lack of motivation or negative mood.
  • Feeling of having exceeded the limit and no longer have the strength to continue.
  • Sleep disturbances (difficulty in conciliating it, maintaining it or falling asleep early).
  • Consumption of substances (especially alcohol and cannabis).
  • Hypersensitivity and irritability.
  • Difficulty connecting with the present.

What are the consequences of emotional exhaustion?

If not taken in time, all of these symptoms will result in serious problems such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders (for example, panic or generalized anxiety) and illnesses such as ulcers or gastrointestinal problems.


The person feels that he has crossed the line and stops remembering his successes and having faith in his abilities. Under the umbrella of emotional exhaustion, the feeling of incapacity grows, of smallness in a world that is too great.


Given the consequences of emotional exhaustion, we can well understand the importance of knowing how to fight it. Here are some strategies for dealing with emotional exhaustion.

Tips to combat emotional exhaustion

Establish your own limits and responsibilities

The first strategy concerns the need di rearrange the structure of one's life, the organizational architecture that has brought you to where you are. Surely, on several occasions you have said "yes" when it would have been better to deny yourself, not for lack of desire (which would still be admissible), but for incapacity. It is also likely that, on many other occasions, you have said "no" to a possibility that you wanted to exploit, but that concealed too many fears that prompted you to put it aside. It is time to recover assertiveness and improve self-esteem.

Set your limits and give yourself opportunities, allow yourself to make mistakes. If you give yourself this permission, you will enjoy what mistakes offer you: an opportunity to learn. Thus, every challenge you undertake will never be an empty investment. You will stop considering it that way and, therefore, it will stop feeding your inner dialogue, the one that exhausts you… and a lot.


Reserve some moments to relax

To empty your emotional load, you have to stop and disconnect. It's about carving out moments that are just for you, simply to distract yourself and connect with your personal needs. A good idea can be to go out with friends or see relatives and have a good time together.

Try not to devote more than to your problems or exhaustion. Let others also have a space to express themselves and reserve a part of the shared communication to tell the positive events that have happened to you.


Draw up a list of priorities

Set your priorities and focus on one at a time; you have to stop doing multiple things together because this will also contribute to the onset of emotional distress. To combat emotional exhaustion, you must stop expecting your mind to perform at different tasks at the same time.

Give yourself permission to focus on "one thing at a time" and leave for tomorrow what is not on your agenda today. For this strategy to work, you need to realistically order all pending tasks according to their priority, and not just rely on what others expect or want.

Learn to express your emotions in a therapeutic way

Knowing how to express emotions in a therapeutic way goes beyond simply “saying how you feel”; it also means improving the quality of communication to facilitate the empathy of others. In this sense, having an emotional diary can be a very helpful tool for expressing yourself and relieving you from your thoughts a little.

The Emotional Journal allows you to separate yourself from your thoughts, let off steam and fight emotional exhaustion. Also remember that if you don't express your emotions in valence negative, such as sadness or anger, these can be fomented and grow. For example, if you are sad, you can feel even sadder if you feel that others do not understand you.

Finally, if you are trying to combat emotional exhaustion and you are not capable of it, you must know how to ask for help and contact a professional who evaluates the situation and proposes the various strategies to be adopted in each case. Emotional exhaustion is a physical and mental health risk and we need to know how to fight it.

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