How to Identify and Deal With Mental Exhaustion

It's easy to get overwhelmed—and essential to take care of yourself
By Ian Kane
Ian Kane
Ian Kane
Ian Kane is an U.S. Army veteran, author, filmmaker, and actor. He is dedicated to the development and production of innovative, thought-provoking, character-driven films and books of the highest quality. You can check out his health blog at IanKaneHealthNut.com
October 15, 2021 Updated: October 15, 2021

Have you ever felt as though your obligations to friends, family, or work have become frustrating or draining, or tasks that you’ve been assigned have accumulated to monstrous levels and seem insurmountable? If so, congratulations—you’re human.

This is known as mental exhaustion, mental fatigue, or burnout, and it’s more common than you might think. But when people are going through it, they sometimes feel as though it’s only happening to them. Feelings involving heightened stress and anxiety, irritability, and the dark shroud of depression can creep into your life and make things seem perpetually gloomy.

This state can also make people feel jealous of people they perceive to lead stress-free lives, which is usually far from the truth. People suffering mental exhaustion may compound the issue through negative self-talk and internalize this state, making it a part of their identity.

Here are some ways you can identify the symptoms of mental exhaustion and alleviate them.

Signs You’re Mentally Exhausted

When your stress level rises too high, it exceeds your body’s ability to sustain the biochemical chain reaction involved, and you hit burnout—mental exhaustion. This state comes with emotional, behavioral, and physiological symptoms.

Emotional Symptoms

A lack of self-esteem and negative self-talk that preoccupies your thoughts for inordinately long periods of time, such as most of the day. This may also involve feelings of detachment, isolation, and a lack of focus, as well as anger, cynicism, and deep depression.

Behavioral Symptoms

There may be a sudden shift in one’s normal social patterns, such as being withdrawn and avoiding other people, even close friends and family. This may also include eating differently, substance abuse (as a coping mechanism), and backing out of obligations—whether those involve work or socializing.

Physical Symptoms

Feeling overly tired and exhibiting an unusual lack of energy is a symptom of mental fatigue. Another physical symptom is becoming uncoordinated and clumsy, such as when getting ready for work or trying to accomplish some other physical task. Other symptoms include muscle soreness or headaches.

Ways to Deal With Mental Exhaustion

The mind and body are resilient and are capable of making a full recovery from the most severe physical injuries. This holds true for mental exhaustion as well. The biggest challenge is to admit you need to make a change in order to recharge mentally and not feel guilty about it. The following are some simple tips that don’t require much energy but will set you on a path toward mental rejuvenation.

Take Breaks

One of the easiest things people can do to alleviate mental exhaustion is to go somewhere quiet and relax. If your stress level builds up and you don’t have ways to relieve it (such as working out or enjoying the beach), you’ll start to see symptoms pop up.

Even if you’re at work, taking a lunch hour walk to a quiet cafe down the street, or a park nearby, can brighten your mood and relieve stress.

Meditate

Meditation and deep breathing are practical and effective ways to alleviate the stresses of modern-day life. There are many different techniques you can use to help calm your mind and live more at peace with yourself and your surroundings. Create your own eye within the storm and reset.

Prioritize Self-Care

Self-care is sometimes viewed as being selfish, but in an age when productivity has become the highest virtue, it’s essential to take care of yourself. Taking time out of your daily or weekly schedule to restore yourself can work wonders for reducing stress levels. This doesn’t mean you have to go on extravagant vacations or luxurious spas—it simply means doing things for the explicit purpose of taking care of yourself.

Ian Kane
Ian Kane is an U.S. Army veteran, author, filmmaker, and actor. He is dedicated to the development and production of innovative, thought-provoking, character-driven films and books of the highest quality. You can check out his health blog at IanKaneHealthNut.com