Mental exhaustion, also known as burnout, results from excess, long-term stress. Symptoms of burnout are subtle at first and become progressively worse with time. Mental exhaustion symptoms not only manifest in the mind, but also as physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent and recover from mental exhaustion.
Mental exhaustion symptoms affect the physical body, as the mind and body are deeply interconnected. The physical symptoms include feeling tired most of the time, change in sleep habits, loss of appetite, becoming sick often, back pain, muscle aches and frequent headaches.
Mental exhaustion has many emotional symptoms. A sense of failure and self-doubt, feeling helpless, trapped and defeated are some of them. One could also feel a sense of isolation, loss of motivation, an increasingly pessimistic view on life, as well as noticeably less satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.
Behaviour patterns can be an indication of mental exhaustion. Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself from your friends and family, procrastinating, eating more or less than usual, taking drugs or alcohol to cope, taking your frustrations out on those close to you, going to work late and leaving early or skipping work altogether, are some behavioural indicators of burnout.
You can prevent mental exhaustion in many ways. Start the day with some form of relaxation for at least 15 minutes: meditate, exercise, stretch or read something inspiring. Eating well, sleeping enough and regular exercise also helps to deal with stresses of modern life.
Sometimes it is too late to prevent burnout. If you are mentally exhausted, it is important to first slow down. Give yourself enough time and space to rest, reflect and regain your energy. Often when you are burned out, there is a tendency to protect what little energy you still have by isolating yourself from others. Getting support from family and friends is even more important during challenging times, as just sharing your experience with someone else can take away some of your pain. Burnout is ultimately a sign that something fundamental in your life is not working and can be an opportunity to discover what really makes you happy and to redefine your priorities accordingly.