Life is the furthest thing from being easy. Filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, you never know what to expect.
But sometimes life can be a little too tough for us to bear. For whatever reason, life has a way of kicking us while we’re down—when it rains, it pours.
When we suffer too much, we become emotionally and mentally drained. The effects of the stress evolve beyond the mental and start manifesting in ways that we can see.
We become sapped of our energy to the point of physical exhaustion, and in some cases, all we can do is break down.
It’s important to recognize when life has put you through too much, instead of confusing these symptoms with everyday life.
Here are eight apparent signs that you’ve gone through too much:
According to Health Line, feeling hopelessness is a sign of emotional exhaustion.
You’ve pushed and pulled and fought and clawed through the storm, but no matter what, it just doesn’t seem to end.
All your energy has been sapped—you wanted to overcome your obstacles, but they seem to be bigger than any you’ve ever come across. Eventually, you start to ask yourself: why even bother?
This point is known as hopelessness, and it is incredibly dangerous. Once you reach this point, your pain and struggle might start to become permanent, because you’ve accepted that this is your life. If you feel this way, it’s time to ask for help.
2) Quick to Anger
The strangest thing you can see is the transformation of a kind, happy-go-lucky individual into someone who is short-tempered and quick to anger.
You wonder what could have happened to that person to cause such a massive change.
According to Mental Help, there is a clear link between anger and stress.
And this is the most common explanation.
No matter how nice you might be, if you’re going through something that is taking away all your emotional and mental reserves, then you will no longer have the tolerance for even the smallest annoyances in your life.
Everything from squeaky shoes to loud chewing can piss you off.
3) Crying More Often
For many of us, crying is something that we left behind in our teen years, and crying as an adult is a rare occurrence for only the most somber or joyous occasions.
As we grow older, we learn to control our emotions, and we can only be brought to the point of crying when something huge happens in our life.
But for those who have been pushed to the limit, crying might be a weekly or even a daily occurrence. A sad movie might make you cry, or even an apology from an old friend or colleague for something they did wrong.
According to psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D., crying easily is a sign that you’re experiencing emotional burnout.
The smallest emotional push could bring you to tears, and this might be a sign of your emotional sensitivity in your time of struggle.
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Having trouble sleeping? It might have something to do with your emotions.
Being sapped emotionally and mentally often leads to insomnia, as counterintuitive as this might seem.
You might think that it would naturally be easier to fall asleep when you are feeling sad or depressed, and while that might be the case, insomnia occurs when so much is going on in our thoughts that you can’t sleep at all.
Many who are struggling with demons in their head have trouble getting a good night’s rest.
[The daily application of mindfulness can dramatically improve your mood. Check out our practical guide to living a more mindful life here].
5) No Motivation or Desire
You wake up at 2 pm. You fall asleep when the sun comes up. You can’t be bothered to take a shower or brush your teeth.
You don’t even care about putting on new clothes every day, and you’re starting to smell terrible.
You are either eating way too much or eating nothing at all because you have no desire to maintain a proper weight.
According to Health Navigator, this could be the result of fatigue:
“Fatigue is the sense of having such low energy that you have little or no motivation to do your regular daily activities. Fatigue may be physical (in your body) or psychological (in your mind).”
You might be suffering through emotional hell. Dealing with too many negative emotions can cause you to lose your will and desire to keep operating at your regular pace.
Your work gets neglected, causing your tasks only to accumulate. And the higher your pile of tasks, the less likely you become ever to do it at all.
You’ve been pushed, beaten, kicked, and punched by life one time too many.
And your mistake is that you had the fire and the courage to fight back, every single time you fell.
Now when you try to do anything about your current situation, the only pain you feel is a sense of detachment. Numbness—you feel nothing anymore, and all the pain has gone.
The absence of pain occurs when you’ve gone through way too much, and this detachment from reality is common amongst those who have been pushed to their limits too often.
This is also known as Anhedonia, where your ability to experience any kind of joy vanishes completely.
According to Medical News Today, emotional numbness can often be caused by too much stress.
7) Physical Symptoms
Depression in the form of mental or emotional exhaustion won’t always show itself it the mind.
In some cases, your body will become physically ill, simply because you are dealing with too much emotionally.
According to a study published in the US National Library of Medicine:
“Physical symptoms are common in depression, and, in fact, vague aches and pain are often the presenting symptoms of depression. These symptoms include chronic joint pain, limb pain, back pain, gastrointestinal problems, tiredness, sleep disturbances, psychomotor activity changes, and appetite changes.”
Stress can exist in your muscles, your belly, and in your mind, and can cause real, physical distress to you if not dealt with.
[Not only does Buddhism provide a spiritual outlet for many people, it can also improve our emotional resilience. Check out my new no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism for a better life here].
8) Never Ending Fatigue
Have you ever gone through a period in your life where, no matter how much you slept and no matter how little you worked, you just never seemed to have the energy to get anything done?
You might confuse fatigue with a kind of extreme tiredness, but the two are very different.
Tiredness is something that happens when you’ve done too much exercise or had a long productive day at work. This wears off when you’ve had a nice, long sleep.
But fatigue sticks with you. Fatigue can’t be shaken off with sleep or coffee, because it’s completely related to your mental state. The heavier your soul feels, the more fatigued you will be.
Before we go into 7 ways to recover from emotional exhaustion, here are some signs it could be your relationship that is doing you emotional damage. If you know it’s not that, you can quickly jump ahead to the 7 ways to overcome emotional exhaustion.
Is your partner draining you emotionally? Here are 8 signs
If you find yourself exhausted following interactions with your partner, or if you aren’t looking forward to seeing them, or if you are feeling anxious about spending time with them, you might be in a relationship that leaves you emotionally drained.
There are many signs that a relationship is not good for you or your partner. If you are left reeling after a day spent thinking about your partner, it might be time to consider ending the relationship. It’s hard, but it might be for the best.
1) You think about them all the time.
Thinking about someone all the time might sound like a great thing, but if negative thoughts and concerns are bubbling up all day, that is not healthy.
If you are engaging in dialogue that leaves you wanting and not feeling energized, you need to think about your relationship from a different perspective.
2) You are exhausted physically.
You find just being around your partner leaves you feeling tired, annoyed and frustrated.
You are not sure why, and you may be confused by these feelings you are having.
Take some time to consider what is it you are exhausted by and reevaluate your relationship if you are not excited about being with them.
According to clinical psychologist and professor Andrea Bonior, it could be a sign that something is seriously off:
“When you are always frustrated by a partner, and you feel that you need a break from them far more often than being with them provides a break — that is a sign that something is seriously off.”
3) You are glad when they leave.
If you aren’t asking them to stay when they decide to leave, that’s not a fun relationship anymore.
If you are glad to see them go, you are most likely in an emotionally draining relationship.
If you find yourself in this situation over and over again, you should think about what it is you are expecting from someone and how they are not living up to your expectations.
Jill Sherer Murray, TEDx speaker, and an award-winning journalist says that this could be a key sign that you’d be happier single:
“When you’d rather be doing anything or be anywhere else than with a date or your significant other, it’s a sign you need the freedom to be who you are, without compromise.”
4) They don’t lift you up.
Your partner should support you and make you feel good about yourself. You shouldn’t be left feeling drained or bad about yourself when you are with your partner.
If you are looking to someone else to make you feel good, you should consider that this probably isn’t the relationship for you.
5) You need some downtime after you’ve been together.
Introverts often report needing to rest and unwind after being with people because it takes them a lot of energy to exert outwardly.
If you find that you are feeling a similar way, you might need to distance yourself from your partner for a while to consider if you are willing to continue to feel like that.
Do you really want to be with someone who is leaving you feeling like you need a nap?
6) They ask too much of you.
People who are emotionally draining often put a lot of their problems and issues on other people.
If your partner is always asking of you but never giving, it might be time to rethink things.
You might be happy to bend over backward for someone you love, but that only works for a little while. It gets old and exhausting over time.
Emotionally draining relationships are hurtful and can do more harm than good.
7) Talking leaves you feeling more frustrated than before.
When you have a chance to talk to your partner, you find that you are always fighting or arguing about something.
It’s never a meaningful conversation and it’s never easy to communicate.
Even when things aren’t bad, they don’t feel good.
And when a relationship isn’t bad or good, but just is, you need to ask yourself if that is really how you want to spend your time.
8) You can’t say what you mean.
If you find yourself walking on eggshells around your partner, you need to consider whether or not that is how you want to continue to feel.
The problem with emotionally draining relationships is that they usually come with a rollercoaster of emotions: sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s great.
But sometimes, you just want to hide away and not bother.
7 Things You Can You Do If You’re Experiencing Emotional Exhaustion
So, if you’re experiencing emotional exhaustion, how can you get yourself out of this funk?
It’s a tough question and what works for some people might not work for others. But the good news is, there are many different strategies you can try.
We’re going to go over 7 of them here:
When you’re exhausted, the last thing that you’d think would help would be exercise. After all, exercise is a form of physical stress.
However, research suggests that physical stress can relieve mental stress.
Harvard Health says that aerobic exercise is key for your head, just as it is for your heart:
“Regular aerobic exercise will bring remarkable changes to your body, your metabolism, your heart, and your spirits. It has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress. It’s a common experience among endurance athletes and has been verified in clinical trials that have successfully used exercise to treat anxiety disorders and clinical depression. If athletes and patients can derive psychological benefits from exercise, so can you.”
According to Harvard Health, exercise works because it reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.
It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are natural painkillers and mood elevators.
2) Progressive muscular relaxation
When you’re stressed, your muscles tend to tighten and tense up.
But by learning to relax your muscles, you will be able to use your body to get rid of stress.
So, how does progressive muscular relaxation work?
It’s best to be in a quiet place where you can comfortably stretch out on a firm mattress.
What you’re meant to do in progressive muscular relaxation is to tighten each muscle and maintain the contraction 20 seconds before slowly releasing it.
As the muscle relaxes, concentrate on the release of tension and the sensation of relaxation.
Here’s an example of how to go about it:
4) Breathing exercises
Simple breathing exercises can also help to reduce stress and increase relaxation.
Rapid, erratic breathing is a common result of stress. But slow, deep, regular breathing is a sign of relaxation.
If you learn to control your breathing to mimic relaxation, the effect will be relaxing.
Here’s how to do deep breathing:
1) Breathe in slowly and deeply, while focusing on your stomach going up and down.
2) Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
3) Exhale, thinking about how relaxing it is, for 6 seconds.
4) Repeat this sequence 5 to 10 times, focusing on breathing slowly and deeply.
This a great way to reduce stress, and you can do it for as long as you like. The other benefit is that you can do it wherever you like.
Here’s a video explaining the neuroscience behind why tuning into your senses is effective in tuning your mind into the present moment:
Meditation has long been known to reduce stress and achieve a calm state of mind.
Meditation can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure, which are known physiological signs of stress.
The good news is, anyone can practice meditation.
Here are 4 steps to get you started:
1) Select a time and place that will be free of distractions and interruption.
2) Get comfortable.
Find a body position that makes you relaxed and comfortable.
3) Try to get into a relaxed, passive mental attitude. Let your mind go blank.
If thoughts and worries appear, just acknowledge them then go back to trying to be relaxed and thoughtless.
4) Concentrate on a mental device.
You could use a mantra, or a simple word, that is repeated over and over. Or you could stare at a fixed object. Whatever it is, the goal is to focus on something so you block out thoughts and distractions.
Once you get good at doing this, you’ll look forward to devoting 20 minutes to it each day.
(To learn more about meditation techniques and Buddhist wisdom, check out my eBook on the no-nonsense guide to using Buddhism and eastern philosophy for a better life here)
Journaling isn’t just for professional writers. People of all ages have found benefits from journaling for their mental health.
Because journaling allows you to write down your deepest emotions, thoughts, and fears. It’s a great way to understand them and release them.
In fact, research has found that journaling can reduce anxiety, improve your memory, help you sleep better, make you kinder, and can lessen depression.
7) See a therapist
It takes courage to see a therapist, but it can help to talk about your problems with a professional.
Not only is it great to express your emotions and thoughts, but they can help you see where you’re thinking is misguided or not helpful.
They can also offer you solutions that will help you create a better life.
When we suffer too much, we become emotionally and mentally drained. This can cause us to feel hopeless, angry, sad and with no motivation to improve the situation.
But once you’re able to accept that you’re suffering from emotional exhaustion, you’ll lift a huge weight from your shoulders and you can begin the path to recovery.
The path to recovery can be made easier with techniques like exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Remember, the first step is acknowledging that you are emotionally fatigued. Once you’re able to do that, you’ll pave the path for you to recover and get back to your best.
How this one Buddhist teaching turned my life around
My lowest ebb was around 6 years ago.
I was a guy in my mid-20s who was lifting boxes all day in a warehouse. I had few satisfying relationships – with friends or women – and a monkey mind that wouldn’t shut itself off.
During that time, I lived with anxiety, insomnia and way too much useless thinking going on in my head.
My life seemed to be going nowhere. I was a ridiculously average guy and deeply unhappy to boot.
The turning point for me was when I discovered Buddhism.
By reading everything I could about Buddhism and other eastern philosophies, I finally learned how to let things go that were weighing me down, including my seemingly hopeless career prospects and disappointing personal relationships.
In many ways, Buddhism is all about letting things go. Letting go helps us break away from negative thoughts and behaviors that do not serve us, as well as loosening the grip on all our attachments.
Fast forward 6 years and I’m now the founder of Hack Spirit, one of the leading self improvement blogs on the internet.
Just to be clear: I’m not a Buddhist. I have no spiritual inclinations at all. I’m just a regular guy who turned his life around by adopting some amazing teachings from eastern philosophy.
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