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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

4 Signs of Emotional Exhaustion (And How to Get Over It)

4 Signs of Emotional Exhaustion (And How to Get Over It)

We all get emotionally exhausted at some point in our lives. It is normal to experience an overdose of one emotion or another and deal with their hardship and struggle, and only through this experience can we truly see the beauty of life. But when the emotional exhaustion turns into a perpetual experience of negative emotions, it isn’t healthy anymore.

Emotions are the driving forces that build our character, and they give flavor to our lives. The more we understand emotions, the better we can deal and nurture them. The ability to deal and nurture our emotions and the emotions of others is called emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity for identifying the signs of emotional exhaustion. It is natural to be emotional, show emotions to oneself, and share and express them to others. It is a crucial part of the individual’s personal and social development.

But can we really recognize our emotions in a way so we don’t get entangled by them—in a way that we get emotionally exhausted?

The Meaning of Emotional Exhaustion

Emotional exhaustion is the state when negative emotions overwhelm the present moment—in any aspect of life—over and over again,. Today, emotional exhaustion is closely linked to emotional labor, which when poorly managed results in being burnt out.

However, emotional exhaustion can also be an outcome of social, familial, friendly, or intimate relationships.

Regardless of the source, when you repeatedly feel the following:

  • Worried
  • Bored
  • Anxious
  • Unworthy
  • Unhappy

This increases the emotions of becoming even more:

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  • Frustrated
  • Envious
  • Fearful
  • Doubtful
  • Angry and
  • Annoyed

And you reach a state of being emotionally exhausted—a state of dullness, confusion, and tiredness.

“Repeatedly” means daily. Every day, deep inside of you, there is the feeling of one or few of the above-mentioned emotions, overwhelming your present moment, playing a part in your daily activities—robbing a significant amount of your physical and mental strength and vitality.

Signs vs. Symptoms of Emotional Exhaustion

Emotional exhaustion is caused by negative feelings and emotions. We can’t get emotionally exhausted by feeling motivated or enthusiastic. The signs of emotional exhaustion don’t come from positive emotions like happiness, gratefulness, or curiosity but from interpreting life events negatively.

Once we start interpreting things from a neutral point of view—without creating unnecessary negative feelings—the emotional exhaustion can be reduced and a better, more realistic perspective on life opens up where positive emotions prevail.

Before interpreting, we need to identify the symptoms and signs of our state of being—how we feel and how we behave.

What Are the Symptoms?

The symptoms are subjective or objective indicators that you feel within yourself. The first symptoms feel mostly like:

  • Tiredness – a subjective indicator that you feel somehow exhausted (physically or mentally), which at the same time might also be true that you’re not if your statement has the inclination of complaining.
  • Boredom – an objective indicator that gives you the unpleasant feeling of not knowing what to do—being disengaged from positive emotions, feeling dull, and empty.

Further symptoms would be the constant feeling of being unworthy of the things you do or unhappy with the things you do, regardless of your accomplishments.

Feeling constantly tired (physically) and disconnected from what is going on around you is a symptom that you’re emotionally exhausted. These symptoms lead inevitably to a behavioral pattern that evolves into a chronic habit of complaining. This leads to the objective signs of emotional exhaustion, which impacts professional and social life.

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What Are the Signs?

The signs of emotional exhaustion can be detected through speech, tone of voice, body, and facial movements. Normally. they are to be detected by an outside observant like a professional or a loved one—any trusted person with an understanding of how emotions work.

With today’s modern technology like high-speed cameras, you can detect and interpret the signs and nature of a facial micro expression. But these tests are not cost-effective.

However, no matter how supportive the modern technology might be, there are two things we need to do to identify the signs (as well as the symptoms) of emotional exhaustion:

  1. Improve self-awareness for more precise detection of the signs (the same goes for the symptoms as well);
  2. The openness to share our situation, feelings, and emotions with a trusted person—an observer with enough competence on the subject matter who can inform us about any signs of emotional exhaustion.

4 Signs of Emotional Exhaustion

The signs of emotional exhaustion are hidden in your emotional expression, and they show through your mood and the way you react and manage your emotions.

When lacking self-awareness, the most efficient way to identify the signs of emotional exhaustion is to seek professional support or ask your loved ones to have a closer look at your behavior, your reactions—like body posture, facial movements (micro-expression), and verbal or non-verbal expressions.

I know, it is not easy to share such personal feelings and weaknesses with others. But one thing that we must understand is that we are all interconnected, and our personal growth is dependent on communication and interrelation with the people around us. And that applies especially when things go wrong.

If you don’t open to your closest, how can you nurture your positive emotions and express positive qualities and virtues to others?

Self-awareness detects emotional exhaustion. As a meditation teacher, it is my daily business to analyze, study, and share my opinions about emotions. The meditation as the fundamental element of reviving the self-awareness can help to manage this whole subject matter.

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My research in this field has proven that we can detect signs of emotional exhaustion once we objectively experience the following moods:

1. You Feel Tired Very Quickly and Very Often (Physical Exhaustion)

It is nothing but natural to become physically exhausted after performing physical activity. After a rest, the body recovers, recharges strength, and replenishes energy. Usually, in this condition, you have the stamina and the resilience to absorb many of the below-mentioned signs. But once the physical exhaustion becomes chronic, the body cannot replenish its energy that easily. That’s when you will feel fatigued.

2. You Lose Interest in Engaging in Daily Activities

Chronic tiredness results in a mood that expresses demotivation, idleness, annoyance, and frustration. These are signs of emotional exhaustion—showing no motivation, no vitality for engaging in or exploring new things in life.

3. You Feel Less Tolerant in Your (Long-Term) Relationships

The signs of constant boredom and annoyance are linked to a behavioral tendency showing indifference that makes you less tolerant in your relationships. The signs mentioned above breed impatience, which quickly creates anger, envy, and even hatred, where even more frustration arises by the fact of not being able to manage relationships on any level.

4. You Feel Insecure, Incapable, and Unworthy

The need for isolation arises and you reach a mood where you feel insecure. Doubtful and anxious, you begin to question your capabilities and your self-esteem sinks lower and lower. The cocktail of these feelings and moods creates so much confusion, resentment, and sadness up to a point of complete emotional exhaustion—a state of burn-out.

This process of emotional irritation and imbalance happens rather unexpectedly. Without notice, despair crawls deep into the psyche exhausting all vitality and all creativity.

How to Prevent or Get Over This Exhaustion?

Apart from the different techniques to overcome mental exhaustion, there is one organic way to recover from emotional exhaustion: Meditation.

  • Prevent the development of emotions—in other words, learn to identify the emotion before it arises and cut its process of evolvement. For example, the feeling of boredom leads to annoyance, and that leads to rejection, irritation, frustration, and so on.
  • Once a negative thought arises and creates a destructive feeling, it is a sign that negative emotion is about to erupt. The idea here is to disrupt the creation of this process and exchange it with a constructive mental and physical activity.
  • This can be done only in a meditative state of being—in a state of inner observation—watching the thoughts. Breathing exercises can help you reach that state.
  • As emotions are the result of the unconscious repetition and acknowledgment of feelings that are supported by the constant creation of thoughts, it is imperative to understand that the root cause of emotional exhaustion is found in the creation of these thoughts.

The meditative state of being can slow down this process and then give a clear picture of what is going on deep inside of us and find the root cause of the problem and the solution for it.

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You can visit my website for custom-made meditation practices that deliver the solution for emotional balance and enhancement of emotional intelligence.

Final Thoughts

One thing worth remembering is that no human being is spared from the turmoil of emotions. You, me, and everyone else suffer and enjoy the effect of the emotions that we create for ourselves.

The above technique sheds light on how you can identify, understand, and move through the whole spectrum of emotions to get over the emotional exhaustion and achieve emotional balance. This way, you can safely experience being the victim as well as the beneficiary of your various emotions.

Hence, it is inevitable to look into how emotions work and how to approach them. The techniques on how to get over emotional exhaustion carry the idea of initiation into emotional self-education. This is a fundamental part of the custom-made meditation practice I offer.

Use this technique to balance your negative emotions and improve your emotional intelligence. During your meditative state of being, all the signs sent to you by your emotions carry messages for the growth of your emotional intelligence and mental strength.

Know that emotions are there to be analyzed and understood, not only to be enjoyed or avoided. Embrace them, handle them, and don’t get lost in them.

More About Emotional Exhaustion

Featured photo credit: Abbie Bernet via unsplash.com

More by this author

Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Published on April 9, 2021

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

What Is Mindfulness And How It Helps Your Mental Wellness

Mindfulness has become a popular buzzword in the health and wellness industry. However, few people truly understand what it is. My aim here is to teach you what mindfulness is and how it helps your mental wellness. By the end of this article, you will understand the meaning and benefits of mindfulness. Additionally, you will develop the ability to integrate mindfulness into your daily life.

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is approximately 2500-years-old with deep roots in the Eastern world as a spiritual, ethical, and philosophical practice. These roots are intimately connected to the Buddhist practice of vipassana meditation.[1]

Mindfulness continues to be practiced as a cultural and spiritual tradition in many parts of the world. For Buddhists, it offers an ethical and moral code of conduct. For many, mindfulness is more than a practice—it is a way of life.[2]

However, mindfulness has evolved in the Western world and has become a non-religious practice for wellbeing. The evolution began around 1979 when Jon-Kabat Zinn developed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).[3] Since then, mindfulness has emerged in the health and wellness industry and continues to evolve.

It is important to recognize the distinctions between mindfulness as a clinical practice and mindfulness as a cultural practice. The focus of this article is on the clinical model of mindfulness developed in the West.

Many researchers have integrated aspects of Buddhism and mindfulness into clinical psychiatry and psychology. Buddhism has helped to inform many mental health theories and therapies. However, the ethical and moral codes of conduct that drive Buddhist practices are no longer integrated into the mindfulness practices most-often taught in the Western world.[4] Therefore, Western mindfulness is often a non-spiritual practice for mental wellness.

Mindfulness aims to cultivate present moment awareness both within the body and the environment.[5] However, awareness is only the first element. Non-judgmental acceptance of the present moment is essential for true mindfulness to occur. Thoughts and feelings are explored without an emphasis on right, wrong, past, or future.

The only necessary condition for mindfulness to occur is non-judgmental acceptance and awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, and at any time. It does not need to be complex even though structured programs exist.

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How Mindfulness Helps Your Mental Wellness

Along with MBSR, other models have been developed and adapted for use by clinical counselors, psychologists, and therapists. These include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).[6]

Structured models of mindfulness allow researchers to study its benefits. Research has uncovered an abundance of benefits including mental, physical, cognitive, and spiritual. The following is not a comprehensive list of all its benefits, but it will begin to uncover how mindfulness helps mental wellness.

Benefits on Your Mental Health

Practicing mindfulness can have positive impacts on mental health. It has been positively associated with desirable traits, such as:

  • Autonomy
  • Agreeableness
  • Conscientiousness
  • Competence
  • Empathy
  • Optimism

Mindfulness helps to improve self-esteem, increase life satisfaction and enhance self-compassion. It is associated with pleasant emotions and mood. Overall, people who practice this appear to be happier and experience more joy in life. Not only does it increase happiness but it may also ward off negativity.

Mindfulness helps individuals to let go of negative thoughts and regulate emotions. For example, it may decrease fear, stress, worry, anger, and anxiety. It also helps to reduce rumination, which is a repetition of negative thoughts in the mind.

MBSR was originally designed to treat chronic pain. It has since evolved to include the treatment of anxiety and depression. Clinical studies have shown that MBSR is linked with:

  • Reduced chronic pain and improved quality of life
  • Decreased risk of relapse in depression
  • Reduced negative thinking in anxiety disorders
  • Prevention of major depressive disorders
  • Reducing substance-use frequency and cravings

However, more research is needed before these clinical studies can be generalized to the public. Nevertheless, there is promising evidence to suggest MBSR may be beneficial for mental health.[7]

Benefits on Your Cognitive Health

Mindfulness has many important benefits for cognitive health as well. In a study of college students, mindfulness increased performance in attention and persistence. Another study found that individuals who practice it have increased cognitive flexibility. A brain scan found increased thickness in areas of the brain related to attention, interception, and sensory processing.[8]

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To explain this another way, practicing mindfulness can improve the ability to shift from one task to the next, increase attention span and increase awareness of bodily sensations and the environment. Therefore, it has the potential to literally change your brain for the better.

Harvard researchers are also interested in studies of the brain and mindfulness. One researcher studied how brain changes are sustained even when individuals are not engaged in mindfulness. Their research suggests that its benefits extend beyond the moments of mindfulness.[9]

Another study found that the benefits of mindfulness training lasted up to five years. In this particular case, individuals participating in mindfulness activities showed increased attention-span. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase problem-solving and decrease mind wandering.[10]

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways. However, most practices include these elements:

  • An object to focus awareness on (breath, body, thoughts, sounds)
  • Awareness of the present moment
  • Openness to experience whatever comes up
  • Acceptance that the mind will wander
  • The intention to return awareness to the object of focus whenever the mind wanders

A practice that encompasses these elements is typically called mindfulness meditation. Most mindfulness meditations will be practiced between 5 to 50 minutes, per day.[11]

There is truly no right or wrong way to practice mindfulness. Most mindfulness meditations are done seated with an object of focus related to the breath, body, thoughts, emotions, or sounds. However, daily activities such as walking or eating can be practiced as a form of mindfulness meditation, as long as the aforementioned elements are in place.

Four Mindfulness Meditations and Their Benefits

Not all forms of mindfulness are created equal. Each practice has unique goals, structure, and benefits. The following four mindfulness meditations are linked with improved mental wellness related to vitality, happiness, and attention.

The results come from a study designed to explore the benefits of these four practices. All of these stem from traditional Buddhist practices.[12]

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1. Loving-Kindness Meditation

Loving-kindness is a form of meditation that focuses on sending love and compassion to others. It may begin with kindness for the self and extend outward towards close family and friends, communities, nations, and the world. Loving-kindness may even involve sending love and compassion towards enemies.

The study found that eight-weeks of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of closeness to others. However, it did not reduce negative feelings towards enemies. Additionally, one week of loving-kindness mixed with compassion training increased the amount of positive feelings participants experienced.[13]

2. Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is a practice where the focus remains on the breath. Whenever the mind begins to wander, the attention is brought back to the breath.

In many different mindfulness and yoga practices, specific breathing (pranayama) practices are taught. However, for beginners, simple diaphragmatic breathing that focuses on each inhale and exhale is sufficient.

The effects of breathing meditation relate to attention. Breathing meditation is linked to changes in the way information is processed. Buddhist monks who practiced breathing meditation were able to process a greater amount of information than monks who practiced compassion meditation.

3. Body Scan Meditation

A body scan is as simple as it sounds. Attention is brought to each part of the body. Participants can choose to start from the top of the head or the bottom of the feet. It can be helpful to imagine a warmth or a color spreading from one body part to the next as each part begins to relax.

When body scan and breathing are combined, there are many benefits. Interoceptive sensitivity is the mind’s ability to focus on bodily cues. It is strengthened by body scanning. Body scanning also helps with attention and focus.[14]

4. Observing Thoughts Meditation

In observing thoughts meditation, the focus is on the thoughts. This is an opportunity to practice non-judgmental observation. It is also a practice of non-attachment.

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Within the study, participants practiced structured observation of thoughts. First, they brought their attention to their thoughts and labeled them within several categories: past, present, future, self, or others. Then, they practiced observing their thoughts without an emotional reaction.[15]

The benefits of this practice were robust. First, participants showed great improvement in the ability to observe their thoughts without judgment. Second, the practice greatly reduced rumination. As a result, participants had fewer emotional reactions to their thoughts and developed greater self-awareness around their thinking patterns.

In summary, there are many different ways to practice mindfulness meditation. The choice may be determined by the benefits each practice offers. For example, body scanning can increase bodily awareness. Thought-observation can increase self-awareness and decrease rumination. Regardless, every practice may increase positivity, energy, and focus.[16]

Considerations Before You Begin Practicing Mindfulness

Mindfulness is still a relatively new concept in clinical research. Critics worry that its benefits have been overstated. There is also concern that the Western world has changed it into something most Buddhists would not recognize.[17]

Mindfulness is a state of mind that builds self-awareness. As a result, it may force individuals to face difficult emotions, memories, and thoughts. In a study of long-term, intense mindfulness practices, 60% of participants reported at least one negative outcome. Some cases are related to depression, anxiety, and psychosis.[18]

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to mental wellness. Mindfulness offering promising results but there are also risks involved. Working with a therapist may be a great way to start a mindfulness practice while monitoring for risk.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness is a powerful practice that has deep roots in Buddhism. It is a practice of present-moment awareness, acceptance of the present moment, and non-judgment of thoughts, emotions, or circumstances.

It has many benefits that may increase mental wellness. However, there are also some risks to consider. Overall, you should consider your unique profile before beginning a practice or consider working with a therapist at the start.

More About Practicing Mindfulness

Featured photo credit: Simon Migaj via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[2] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[3] Greater Good Magazine: What is Mindfulness?
[4] Sage Journals: Mindfulness in Cultural Context
[5] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[6] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[7] NCBI: Mindfulness Meditation and Psychopathology
[8] NCBI: Effects of Mindfulness on Psychological Health: A Review of Empirical Studies
[9] The Harvard Gazette: When Science Meets Mindfulness
[10] Greater Good Magazine: The State of Mindfulness Science
[11] NCBI: A Perspective on the Similarities and Differences Between Mindfulness and Relaxation
[12] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[13] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[14] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[15] ResearchGate: Phenomenological Fingerprints of Four Meditations: Differential State Changes in Affect, Mind-Wandering, Meta-Cognition, and Interoception Before and After Daily Practice Across Nine Months of Training
[16] Greater Good Magazine: How to Choose a Type of Mindfulness Meditation
[17] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?
[18] NCBI: Has the Science of Mindfulness Lost Its Mind?

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