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4 Signs You’re Emotionally Drained (And What To Do)

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4 Signs You’re Emotionally Drained (And What To Do)

We’ve all heard it. We’ve probably all said it. “I am just emotionally drained today!” Rarely, however, do we ponder where this phrase comes from, or just how literal these symptoms and sensations might be.

According to Healthline, emotional exhaustion is a state of being severely emotionally drained or depleted, from the build-up of stress from either your job or personal life, or both.[1]

Sometimes, this term can also be used to describe “burn out,” and the sensation of simply juggling too much and feeling the effects of a lack of energy to continue.

When we think about how fast-paced our culture and society are, it’s not a big surprise that we could all fall victim to these symptoms and ailments.

We see these symptoms readily in overly demanding jobs, whether in offices or in manual labor. However, emotional exhaustion can spring from any myriad of occupations, from parenting to creative work to entrepreneurship.

No one is exempt from feeling emotionally depleted, but there are ways to see it coming and to arm yourself against it.

Below are some signs of feeling emotionally drained, and what you can do to help yourself and your loved ones.

1. Feeling “Stuck” or “Trapped” in Life or a Particular Situation

When we’re feeling emotionally drained, we have a hard time changing and broadening our perspective of any given situation. If we’re struggling or trying to find a way out of a job, relationship, or problem, not feeling emotionally healthy can act as a strong deterrent from creating and maintaining a fresh, positive outlook.

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At some point, all of us will feel stuck in a problem in life; this becomes a sign of emotional drainage when you start to feel like you are inherently stuck within this situation, with no energy or way out.

This can also manifest as a lack of motivation to seek out new solutions, or a feeling that we’ve resolved to trudge through our problems and simply accept that things aren’t going to change for the better.

As a result, we may develop depression, anger, and irritability, which can manifest as physical dis-ease, such as headaches, physical fatigue, muscle soreness, lack of sleep, and poor appetite. [2]

The Solution

One way of getting through this sign of feeling emotionally drained is to seek out help. This can be in the form of a dear friend or family member, or it may present itself in the form of professional help, such as a therapist, doctor, or alternative medicine healer.

In many instances when we are feeling stuck and trapped in life, we have a hard time pulling ourselves out of that constant, negative loop that our mind plays through. This is really where the benefit of community can come into play.

Seeking out help not only alleviates the burden of having to feel and go through this problem alone, but it also allows you to receive input and perspective from an outside, neutral source that could be the breakthrough you need.

Other people can have a huge impact on the way our problems present themselves, showing us an alternative solution we would have never considered or found on our own.

2. Lack of Motivation to Work, Create, and Pursue Goals and Freams

Too much stress can burn out even the most joyous of plans and initiatives. It makes us feel like, no matter how hard we try, there is just not enough emotional or energetic bandwidth to do anything at all.

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This attitude and these mental and emotional states can make it very difficult for us to finish work, enjoy the process of creating something, or tackle goals and plans that we’ve committed ourselves to.

On a physical level, stress and lack of motivation can interrupt our energy levels to the point where we’re feeling fatigue, sluggishness, and a lack of an appetite.

We may feel sleepy during all periods of the day, and show a clear disinterest in performing or being productive. We may also show apathy towards the things that usually bring us happiness, like making plans with friends or taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health.

The Solution

One way of re-energizing ourselves when we do feel a lack of motivation is to start to get clear on why we’re lacking it in the first place. [3]

Maybe it’s because we’re stretching ourselves too thin, and our to-do lists have become seriously overwhelming. If this is the case, perhaps we can look into prioritizing our work by what is the most critical, and tackling those tasks first. [4]

Another reason may be that you’re falling into the “People Pleaser” rabbit hole. This is where you’re committing your time and energy to getting things done for everyone else, without checking in with yourself first.

Can you actually handle that task or fulfill that promise? Do you even want to? These are important questions to ask, and be honest about the answers!

Once you take these steps, you can re-adjust and re-evaluate where you want to spend your time and effort, therefore kicking up your emotional energy again.

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3. Irritability and “Flying Off the Handle”

When our emotions aren’t in check, we have a harder time controlling what may be perceived as irrational anger or sudden outbursts. In reality, when we’re in the thick of that “burn out” sensation, we’re desperately trying to keep our cool and keep our work and tasks from falling apart. It’s exhausting, depleting, and just frustrating!

In these moments, when our emotions are fried and desperate for a reset, it’s easier for us to give into anger or irritability, or to sudden outbursts of rage. Emotional depletion just looks for an exit, and it doesn’t care who receives the brunt of it. We may feel regretful later, but in the moment, we’ve lost the ability to check ourselves.

The Solution

One powerful way of dissolving that anger is through breath. When we’re angry and frustrated, our breathing and heartbeat quicken, all leading to an activation of the fight-or-flight response in our systems. When that kicks in, it’s harder for us to think rationally or make sound decisions. Instead of acting, we RE-act, and not always in the best way.

When we tap back into our breathing, we allow it to soothe and reset that fight-or-flight response, so that the body can come back to homeostasis. [5]

Check out the below GIF to help you tune back into long inhales and exhales. Follow along with the animation, and notice how, after a few moments, you start to feel more relaxed, grounded, and centered.

Read more about breathing exercises: 3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Relax and Reduce Stress

4. Constant Fatigue and Poor Sleep

Some may think that feeling emotionally drained would put you to sleep right away, but the opposite is actually the case. Insomnia has been linked to a complex number of emotional and mental disorders, and because everything in the body-mind-spirit connection is intricately linked, it’s not a surprise that if one thing is off, the entire system is affected. [6]

Getting enough sleep is immensely important to the wellness of your entire being. Without it, we’re essentially running on empty, and depleting the body of what’s already a draining effort.

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Notice your sleep patterns, and pay attention if you’re having a hard time letting go of the day or your to-do list before you head to bed. Are you working over unfinished tasks while trying to fall asleep? Are you battling emotions and thoughts at night?

These all might point to being emotionally drained, which carries into the next day, with constant fatigue throughout your day and week.

The Solution

One way of checking in and alleviating these symptoms is to start creating a ritual sleep routine. A few hours before bedtime, start to wind down any use of electronics or work. Whatever wasn’t finished that day, jot it down to start first thing in the morning, but start to cut ties with it before you prepare for bedtime.

This will ensure that you’re not rummaging around in your mind for any other ideas or work, when you should be giving your mind and body much-needed rest.

If it helps, start implementing some essential oils to ease you into rest. Lavender, eucalyptus, and peppermint are really soothing, and can even help with sinus issues or congestion.

Final Thoughts

Emotional exhaustion or feeling emotionally drained is a by-product of something in our everyday life that is misaligned – be it work, play, family, or anything in between. It’s essential to narrow down the root cause, and re-evaluate how you spend your time, how you prioritize your work, and how you treat your mind-body-spirit connection for optimal well-being.

More Self-Care Tips for You

Featured photo credit: Nik Shuliahin via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Aleksandra Slijepcevic

Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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Published on January 26, 2022

5 Ways to Limit the Stress of Working from Home

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5 Ways to Limit the Stress of Working from Home

Ditching your commute to work from home might sound like the path to pure happiness. Yet, research shows that it’s not quite as pleasurable in practice.

Gallup’s research on working from home stress conducted between April and September 2020 shows that almost a third of remote workers are stressed.[1] They’re so stressed, in fact, that they say they are always in or near a state of burnout.

That’s especially concerning because occupational burnout can lead to everything from disengagement to despair. And with the Great Resignation in full swing, employers can’t afford to lose the skills or input of talented staff members.

Of course, virtual working doesn’t have to feel like a burden or become an addiction. The key is to figure out how to balance the demands of a job with the demands of a household.

Whether you became a remote worker by chance or choice, you shouldn’t have to live under undue stressors. Apply some of the following advanced tips to keep your working from home stress from getting out of hand.

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Here are five innovative strategies for lowering work from home stress.

1. Set Tech Boundaries for Everyone in Your Family

When you work virtually, you’re bound to have off-the-chart screen time. If you’re a parent, your school-age children may spend many hours daily learning on their laptops and tablets. Consequently, make sure everyone gets away from their digital devices by setting up “techless time.”

For instance, consider turning dinner into a tech-free zone, or set aside time every evening where all your family members can recharge their phones while they recharge their spirits. Reading a book, getting some exercise, or just relaxing away from technology allows you to unplug and unwind.

Be aware that middle schoolers and younger teens won’t necessarily like these rules. That’s where buying them a phone with limited capabilities can give you a parental assist. Gabb Wireless offers a thoughtfully engineered kids’ phone built without access to social media sites or the internet.[2] It’s a streamlined, practical way for you to worry less about your children being tempted to spend day and night online.

2. Stop Answering Work-Related Pings When You’re”Off the Clock”

You’re kicking back in bed with a book at 10:30 p.m. when you hear an alert on your phone. It’s your boss, asking about an assignment. Your stomach starts to churn, and your head begins to ache. Is it better to answer the call of duty (even though it could make you feel overwhelmed) or put off responding until the morning?

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Unfortunately, our always-on culture promotes the belief that it’s rude to ignore texts, emails, DMs, and calls. This can lead to us feeling guilty for playing with our kids, talking with our spouse, or just living a personal life free from corporate distractions.

It can be hard to turn off the nagging suspicion that your supervisor will think less of you if you set boundaries. It’s critical to your mental health, though.

Start by telling your team when you won’t be available each day—then stick to whatever you say. Just because your house is where you do your work doesn’t mean you have to be office-ready 24/7.

3. Set Up a Specific Area for Your Home Office

The main reason for working from home stress is the feeling that you’re “on-call” no matter where you go in your house. One way to delineate your personal and professional spaces is by physically setting up at least one office area.

You don’t have to set aside a whole room as your workspace, either. Some people have found success by creating an office nook in a large walk-in closet, the corner of a room, or an area of a finished basement. The point is to have a spot that’s designed for work.

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Be sure to fix up your home workspace so it’s pleasant and welcoming. Have plenty of light and decorate it attractively. You’ll feel at ease going to it when you need to get some tasks done. Plus, your household members will learn that when you’re at your remote desk, you’re technically on the job. Consequently, they’ll think twice before interrupting and causing you the frustration of having to constantly switch gears.

4. Hire a Babysitter to Give You a Break

As a parent, you can’t do it all no matter what you’ve heard or told yourself. As much as you might like to be an attention mom or dad to your younger kids, you can’t always do that and be a dependable worker at the same time. So, take a deep breath and check out the online help-wanted pages for a babysitter.

Depending on your arrangement and the age of your kids, you might only need a babysitter occasionally. Look for one who’s knowledgeable, reliable, and flexible. Be sure that the babysitter you choose has enough experience and check all referrals.

You can’t imagine the relief you’ll feel knowing that your children aren’t going to burst in on an important Zoom client call. Yes, it will cost you some money to invest in a babysitter. But if it makes you more productive and reduces your working from home stress, it’s worth a try.

(Side note: Have pets who crave tons of attention? A loving pet sitter can serve the same purpose.)

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5. Allow Yourself to Use Up Sick Leave

In an office setting, employees who feel unwell frequently call in sick and use their PTO. Among the work-from-home crowd, you see a bit of difference. Lots of ailing virtual workers force themselves to slog through the day because they don’t feel good about using up their sick leave.

According to a poll released in November 2020 and evaluated by Study Finds, two-thirds of remote workers remained hesitant to use up sick leave on anything less than Covid.[3]

In other words, you might feel compelled to plug on despite aches and pains. After all, you’re home so it doesn’t matter, right? Wrong, as it turns out. Presenteeism—the act of being on the job but not being mentally focused on your responsibilities—soars among the sick. It doesn’t do anyone any good to press ahead if your body and mind require much-needed rest.

If getting as close to a stress-free existence is your goal, do what’s necessary for your health. PTO is meant to be used—even when you’re a WFH team member.

Final Thoughts

It’s not practical to expect that you can totally eliminate all your stressors as a remote worker. But you can reevaluate your choices to improve how balanced you feel at the end of each day. You can start by following these five tips on how to limit the stress of working from home.

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More Tips on Dealing With Work Stress

Featured photo credit: Avi Richards via unsplash.com

Reference

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