8 ways to find relief when emotional exhaustion hits you hard

If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed, drained, and on the brink of emotional burnout.

Whether you’re a working professional juggling multiple responsibilities, a student struggling with demanding coursework, or simply someone trying to deal with life, emotional exhaustion can hit anyone at any time.

My first encounter with this was during my university years when I was juggling academics, extracurricular activities, and personal issues.

I tried everything, from meditation to energy drinks, but nothing seemed to work.

Finally, I learned that I needed to find healthier ways to cope.

Dealing with emotional exhaustion can feel like an uphill battle, but there are strategies to help you regain your energy and peace of mind. Here are 8 insights that I wish I had known earlier.

1) Prioritize self-care

It’s easy to forget about our own needs when we’re caught up in our rapidly changing daily lives.

I have to admit, I was guilty of this during my unviersity years, as I mentioned earlier.

I was so focused on my studies and other responsibilities that I neglected my own well-being.

Simply put, I was taking care… but for others.

It took me a while to realize that I was equating self-care with selfishness, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

The first step towards relief from emotional exhaustion is understanding that self-care isn’t a luxury, but a necessity.

This means setting aside time each day for activities that rejuvenate you—be it reading, jogging, or even just enjoying a quiet cup of tea.

While this may seem like an obvious step, it’s crucial to remember that it lays the foundation for all the other strategies in this list.

2) Practice mindfulness

In the process of dealing with emotional exhaustion, I found myself constantly ruminating about my struggles and anxieties.

I was dwelling, not living.

In retrospect, I now understand that I was stuck in a loop of negative thinking, which only served to amplify my emotional exhaustion.

Seems evident, doesn’t it?

It does.

Truthfully, I likely knew at the time that this wasn’t helping, but it was an automatic response to stress.

It’s easy to get caught in this cycle.

So, what’s the remedy?

Practicing mindfulness.

This involves consciously focusing on the present moment without judgment. 

Trust me, doing so will allow you acknowledge your feelings without being overwhelmed by them.

Instead of getting swept up in thoughts like “Everything is going wrong,” we can shift our focus to our breath or our immediate surroundings.

By saying something like “I’m feeling stressed right now, and that’s okay,” we validate our emotions without letting them control us.

3) Establish healthy boundaries

Have you ever found yourself receiving end of endless demands and requests?

You see, this is often a clear sign that your boundaries are being overstepped, leading to emotional exhaustion.

I’ve learned that setting boundaries is not just about saying no, but also about understanding your own capacity and worth.

When you allow others to constantly encroach upon your time and energy without limits, it can quickly lead to feeling overwhelmed and undervalued.

For example, continuously agreeing to take on extra tasks at work or always being the go-to person for favors in your personal life can be draining.

The key is to recognize your limits and communicate them clearly.

This might mean having a conversation with your boss about workload or letting friends know you need some time for yourself.

Either way, you need to find a balance between being helpful and not overextending yourself.

In my experience, I’ve learned that setting these boundaries can initially feel challenging, especially if you’re used to putting others’ needs before your own.

However, it’s essential for preserving your well-being.

4) Embrace the exhaustion

I know this might seem a bit counter-intuitive at first glance. 

But accepting your exhaustion is a crucial step towards healing and understanding yourself better.

Often, we try to push through our exhaustion, ignoring what it’s trying to tell us.

But guess what?

Accepting and leaning into these feelings helps us open the door to valuable insights about our lives.

Here’s how it works:

When you’re emotionally exhausted, your body and mind are sending you a clear message. It’s an indication that something in your life needs attention or change.

For example, feeling drained after social interactions could signify the need for more alone time, or constant work stress might indicate it’s time to reevaluate your work-life balance.

It’s an opportunity to pause, reflect, and ask ourselves important questions:

  • What is causing this exhaustion?
  • What changes can I make to reduce it?
  • Is there something in my life that needs more attention or a different approach?

5) Seek professional help

Sometimes, the best course of action when facing emotional exhaustion is to seek professional help.

Believe it or not, it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to acknowledge when you need support beyond what you can provide for yourself or receive from friends and family.

Today seeking professional help is increasingly becoming a norm in our society. And for a good reason.

Studies show that more people are turning to therapists or counselors to overcome their life’s challenges.

This reflects a growing recognition of the importance of mental health.

When dealing with emotional exhaustion, a professional therapist can offer a different perspective, backed by expertise and experience.

They can help you uncover underlying issues, develop coping strategies, and provide guidance on managing stress and emotional fatigue.

For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy is known for its effectiveness in changing negative thought patterns. These thoughts can also contribute to your emotional exhaustion.

Taking the step to see a professional can be transformative.

It’s an opportunity to gain insights into your emotional state and learn practical tools to improve your mental well-being.

6) Cultivate gratitude

Imagine you’re starting your day feeling completely overwhelmed.

As you sit with your morning coffee, you decide to list a few things you’re grateful for:

Perhaps the warmth of the sun, a friend’s support, or even the coffee itself.

The thing is that this simple act of cultivating gratitude can be a powerful tool in combating emotional exhaustion.

How so?

Well, gratitude shifts your focus from what is draining you to what enriches you.

This practice has been shown to have significant benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and increasing resilience.

Incorporating gratitude into your daily routine doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

It can be as simple as jotting down three things you’re thankful for each day, or taking a moment to appreciate something in your immediate environment.

Over time, this practice can change your perspective, helping you to see the world, and your challenges, in a different light.

7) Engage in physical activity

You’ve probably heard that physical activity is a proven method when it comes to dealing with lowered mood, haven’t you?

Indeed. In fact, studies prove that exercise can boost your mood.

Back to my tough times, even then, I had some awareness that exercise could help. But the inertia seemed too great to overcome.

This is a barrier many of us encounter.

What’s the answer?

Don’t wait for a perfect moment to engage in physical activity.

The reason is that exercise releases endorphins — our body’s natural mood boosters. It also helps to distract our mind from negative thoughts and reduces stress levels.

Whether it’s a brisk walk in the park, a yoga session, or an intense workout at the gym, any form of physical activity can contribute to alleviating emotional exhaustion.

Just find a random YouTube video, it might be short, simple, but trust me — even a quick 10-minute workout can make a significant difference.

You just need to take that first step, however small, to get moving and start shifting your energy.

8) Find your purpose

Isn’t it true that when we have a sense of purpose, the hurdles we face seem more manageable?

Finding your purpose can be a potent remedy for emotional exhaustion.

It gives you a reason to get up in the morning, something to strive for that’s bigger than your immediate concerns or stressors.

During my toughest times, I realized that part of my exhaustion stemmed from a lack of direction. I was moving through life without a clear sense of purpose.

Once I began to focus on what truly mattered to me, what I was passionate about, and what I wanted to achieve, my perspective started to shift.

The challenges didn’t disappear, but they became steps on the path to something meaningful.

But remember:

Finding your purpose doesn’t mean you need to have your entire life figured out.

It can start with small steps – identifying activities that bring you joy, causes you care about, or goals you want to achieve.

When you align your actions with your purpose, even the mundane tasks gain new significance, and the challenges become opportunities for growth and fulfillment. 

Final thoughts

Whenever I reflect on my own journey through emotional exhaustion, I realize that the steps we take toward recovery are as important as the destination.

The strategies that I discussed here are not just methods for relief — they’re stepping stones toward building a stronger, more resilient you.

In dealing with my own challenges, I’ve learned that embracing these practices leads to a deeper understanding of myself and a greater capacity to handle life’s ups and downs.

Each step you take is a move towards not just overcoming exhaustion, but also towards nurturing a more balanced and fulfilling life.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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