There’s no denying that the past year and a half has put everyone through the wringer. But if we’re truly being honest with ourselves, almost everyone has been wildly careening towards burnout for many years now. Blame the pandemic, the gig industry, the political landscape, juggling parenthood, the need to keep up appearances, taking care of sick parents, and the endless litany of pressures we all face. Whatever the case may be, we’ve been cruising for a metaphorical bruising for a while now. So this feels like as good a time as any to seek out some info and tips for dealing with emotional exhaustion from a professional.
The first step to combating emotional exhaustion is to correctly identify it. Only then can you take the necessary steps to refuel and care for yourself. And while emotional exhaustion is definitely closely related to and can feel like stress, it’s much more akin to burnout. That bad mood you’ve been in for the past month? The anger you feel about your job situation? The deep sadness and feelings of overwhelm and helplessness about the state of the world? All of these things could be the result of emotional exhaustion.
While on our quest to find effective tips for emotional exhaustion, we tapped Jaime Bronstein, a relationship therapist, coach, and host of Love Talk Live on LA Talk Radio. For the past 20 years, Bronstein has been teaching her clients how to heal their past, love themselves unconditionally, how to be vulnerable, tap into their inner strengths and intuition, and live more authentically. We knew she’d have a ton of insight on the topic. Here’s what she had to say:
So what exactly is emotional exhaustion?
Emotional exhaustion happens when someone has experienced extreme stress for an extended period. People tend to experience emotional and physical symptoms from being overly stressed.
What are the emotional symptoms of emotional exhaustion?
The emotional symptoms of emotional exhaustion can show up in many ways, including irritation, frustration, overwhelm, anger, depression, and anxiety.
What are the physical symptoms of emotional exhaustion?
Emotional exhaustion can cause a weakened immune system, fatigue, weight loss/gain, headaches, and digestive issues. In addition, emotional exhaustion can cause severe disease and conditions because our emotional well-being is directly related to our physical well-being. Emotional distress can cause a “dis-ease” in the body.
How do these symptoms seep into our personal and professional lives and performances?
The symptoms of emotional exhaustion affect all aspects of your life including your personal and professional life. Being in a state of emotional exhaustion can cause issues in relationships because stressed out, depressed, and anxious people don’t act like themselves. This can cause frustrations from their significant other, friends, and family.
Regarding professional lives, emotional exhaustion can cause a lack of motivation and inability to concentrate—therefore, workflow and productivity can be affected.
Is there a treatment for emotional exhaustion?
Yes, there are treatment options for emotional exhaustion. Many people seek out mental health professionals and practice talk therapy. Other options include acupuncture, massage, spending time in nature, and slowing down in your professional life. I also highly recommended exercise to release and relieve stress.
Are there any strategies for preventing and reducing emotional exhaustion before it hits a tipping point?
You need to take care of yourself. Self-care should always be your priority. You need to put on your “oxygen mask” first to take care of the people in your life. It’s essential to check in with yourself daily. Assess how you are feeling emotionally and physically. If something seems “off” inside, then pay attention to that. Feelings are messages to us about what is going on inside—listen to yourself and connect with yourself to honor them. Your feelings are the compass that guides you in life. Allow yourself to feel so that you can heal.
What resources do you recommend people should seek out for help?
Don’t be afraid of asking for help. No one does it alone. Reach out to a close friend or family member, or mental health professional. Talking through things can be a huge relief and release. Group therapy is beneficial because you feel less alone and can communicate with people who can relate to you. Read books, articles, and blogs and listen to podcasts that address emotional exhaustion.
Recharge with these resources:
- Exhaustion: A History
- Can’t Even: How Millenials Became the Burnout Generation
- Big Magic
- Not Working: Why We Have to Stop
- Year of Yes
- The Artist’s Way
- Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert
- Happiness Spells
- The Happiness Lab
- Therapy Chat
- Talk in Circles
- Brene Brown
- Ted Talks
- Prioritizing an evening walk
- Daily meditation
- Making time to exercise
- Keeping a consistent and healthy diet
- Making a playlist of songs that make you happy
- Establishing a daily routine that prioritizes mental and physical self-care
- Setting strong personal and professional boundaries
- Doing something frivolous
- Unplugging and get off the grid
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