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:

  • 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.

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.

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.

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

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

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