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Emotionally Exhausted? How It Feels, 41 Signs & Reasons Why You’re Drained

Feeling emotionally exhausted is common, but learning why you feel so emotionally drained is key to learn how to overcome the stress. 

emotionally exhausted and drained exhaustion

Have you ever heard someone complain about being dead tired from studying or working late? That’s because mental processes can take a chunk out of your energy, just as much as when you do something physical. But feeling emotionally exhausted is more than that—it’s when you simply have so much on your plate, you can’t process it anymore.

When your mind is taking on too much information or too many sensations, it’s working twice as hard to maintain a semblance of normalcy for your body.

When you feel emotionally drained, your mind and body are taking on too much, and the only way for you to fix it is to solve why you’re feeling that way. [Read: Why am I so sensitive? How to stop being sensitive and grow a thick skin]

Things that emotionally exhaust you might be bigger signs of trouble

If you find that certain things emotionally exhaust you, it may mean that your life no longer has a place for them.

Their toxic energy is so consuming that you actually become worn down by it. That’s not healthy and it’s definitely not something you should deal with.

Sometimes you have to separate your feelings from a situation and assess it from afar. Doing this can help you pinpoint exactly what’s causing the issue so you can correct it. [Read: Stress ruining your relationship? Signs and quick fixes]

Who is at risk of emotional exhaustion?

Anyone and everyone can feel emotionally drained from time to time, but there are some groups of people who are more at risk than others:

1. People with demanding jobs

2. Those struggling with perfectionism

3. People who often feel lonely

4. Those who place self-care at the bottom of their priority list [Read: How to take care of yourself emotionally and avoid falling apart]

How to know if you’re emotionally exhausted and what to do about it

Since emotional exhaustion can manifest just like stress and even anxiety, it can be difficult to know the difference.

And since you can’t treat all of them the same way, you need to be able to tell which is which so you can fix it correctly.

1. Sleep doesn’t help

When sleeping doesn’t make you feel rested or any better, you know it’s emotional exhaustion. It doesn’t just go away with a good night of sleep—it’ll be there until you can actually solve the problem and get things off your chest.

2. Relaxation techniques don’t help

Relaxing and unwinding are good ways to get rid of stress and anxiety. But if these normal techniques don’t work, you’re probably emotionally exhausted.

You’ll need a different approach to get rid of it, most likely tackling the thing that’s emotionally exhausting you head-on. [Read: Really quick stress busters to recharge your mind]

3. You feel very irritable and you don’t know why

If you’re cranky and angry for seemingly no reason, you might be emotionally exhausted. When your emotions are basically fried, anything can result in anger and frustration instead of a reasonable reaction.

4. You can’t sleep

Insomnia can also be a side effect of stress but if you still can’t sleep after relaxing the way you usually do, it’s a problem.

No matter how much you want to fall asleep, you just can’t. That’s how you know it’s more than everyday stress. [Read: How to make life easier – 20 steps to go from exhausted to effortless]

5. You have nightmares

Your dreams and your emotions are very closely related. If you’re having nightmares, there’s something wrong in your subconscious.

Even if you don’t consciously realize it, it’s manifesting in your dreams and it’s probably emotional exhaustion.

6. You feel unattached to things and people

This is probably the biggest sign you’re emotionally exhausted. When you can’t make yourself feel things, it’s because your emotions are at an overwhelming level. This manifests in an unattached feeling of emptiness. [Read: Emotional attachment – how it works and 34 signs you’re getting attached and close]

7. You can’t concentrate

When you push yourself beyond your limit, it’s really hard to concentrate. You can’t seem to focus on tasks and your mind slips often. If this happens a lot, you could be emotionally exhausted.

8. You get sick often

Just like stress can harm your immune system, so can emotional exhaustion. If you keep getting sick and are also experiencing some of these other effects, it’s a huge sign your emotions are in overdrive. [Read: The big health benefits of sex and more that’ll help you live longer!]

9. A change in appetite

When you’re emotionally exhausted you just can’t eat. No matter how hungry you are, you just can’t get food down. If this happens to you often, seek some help so you can eat properly again!

10. You get frequent headaches

When you’re emotionally exhausted, you’re likely to get headaches. Your brain is working extra hard to process what’s going on and it often manifests itself in this way, making it hard to concentrate on anything.

11. You struggle to feel motivated

Emotional exhaustion often makes you feel totally lacking in motivation. You’re so overwhelmed, it’s very hard to find the ‘get up and go’ to go and do anything. Of course, this just makes the whole situation worse. [Read: 19 life quotes to motivate you to live a better life]

12. Even small tasks feel overwhelming

In this state, everything feels overwhelming, even small tasks that you’d normally get done in a few minutes.

You can’t concentrate well enough to make headway, and it causes you to procrastinate and feel even more stressed.

13. You make uncharacteristic mistakes

If you’re finding that you make mistakes that you’d normally never make, it could be because you’re feeling emotionally drained and productivity has gone out of the window.

14. You feel you could always be stuck this way

There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight—you feel that you’re always going to be in this state and always feel totally exhausted and overwhelmed. [Read: Feeling trapped in a relationship – why you feel stuck and what you must do]

What makes you feel emotionally drained?

There are many reasons why your emotions are throwing you for a loop. The problem is, most people can’t pinpoint the cause.

This is largely because they are so used to approaching things the same way. But what they don’t realize is that their routines are causing them to feel mentally tired.

Here are some examples:

1. Indulging in bad relationships

A lot of times, our emotions are influenced by the people we interact with. Conflicts will arise and there’s not much you can do about your initial feelings and reactions. How you continue to deal with it, however, will determine your emotional stability. [Read: 44 stress-free ways to ignore someone and stop people from hurting you]

Romantic relationships

A toxic relationship with your significant other can drain you emotionally because you exert too much effort just to keep it afloat.

Not to mention, if you live with your partner, then you’re around this emotional roller-coaster of a person all the time.

Social relationships

Some people can drain you emotionally because you’re forced to give your attention to them when you’re spread too thin already.

It is necessary to maintain your friendships, but sometimes the friends we choose can be more than we can handle. [Read: Real friends vs fake friends – 21 ways to weed out users and bad ones]

Familial relationships

These are the relationships that you were born with. Pushing them out of your life can be emotionally taxing, but being in an unhealthy relationship may be just as hazardous.

2. Taking on too much

Even though you think you can handle a lot of tasks physically, mental and emotional strain will also take their toll.

Even if you’re not consciously investing your feelings in the matter, your emotions can be affected by the stress. [Read: How to get rid of nervousness and calm your mind wherever you are]

3. Not doing enough for yourself

When you fail to reward yourself or do things that benefit you, your emotions can be affected. The part of your brain that feels joy stops functioning properly because it doesn’t register any rewarding moments. [Read: Inspiring ways to bring out the best in yourself]

4. Reading bad news

There are a lot of bad things happening in the world. If you start to absorb all those negative feelings, you may feel a strain on your emotions.

This is especially true when you feel that you can’t do anything to make the world a better place; hopelessness can be the ultimate stressor.

5. Perfectionism

Being a perfectionist can also drain you emotionally. When you don’t achieve the level of perfection that you want, you can start to feel bad about your lack of achievement.

Letting go of the things you can’t control is a better alternative, while still allowing you to seek perfection where it is possible. [Read: Dating a perfectionist – the things you must know before you date one]

6. Poor health

When you’re sick, you may be physically incapacitated. The stress of your sickness—or even the stress of being forced to stay in bed—can affect your emotions.

When your body feels bad, so does your mind.

7. People pleasing

When you keep agreeing to things that you don’t want to do, you will undoubtedly feel some sort of resentment.

This can manifest through your emotions and, eventually, your energy levels. [Read: People pleaser – 21 signs you’re one and how to stop people pleasing]

8. A cluttered and messy environment

If your bedroom, office space, or even your neighborhood is a mess, the effect of that disorganized environment can seep through to your emotions. That’s why some people feel frustrated when they’re working in a messy or noisy area. [Read: Tips on how to be a less materialistic person]

9. Codependency

Putting all your hopes on something or someone can be dangerous.

If you fail to receive the support that you need, or if you fail to acquire the object/situation you want, your disappointment can greatly affect your emotions, leading to emotional exhaustion. [Read: 52 happy habits and ways to find happiness within yourself and feel better]

10. Not doing what makes you happy

When you choose to do things that don’t make you happy, you are sacrificing your ability to find contentment and joy.

When you stop feeling these things, your emotions will suffer a huge blow, and you can develop depression as a consequence—a condition frequently associated with exhaustion or lethargy.

How can you change things and stop feeling emotionally drained?

First things first, it’s important to give yourself a break! Once you’ve identified that you’re suffering from emotional exhaustion, be kind to yourself. In fact, you should be kind to yourself anyway!

However, no more than ever before, it’s time to show yourself the love that you always show to other people. On top of that, these tips will also help you put an end to feeling emotionally drained. [Read: 55 secrets and self-love habits to build confidence and realize your worth]

1. Identify the source

In order to stop feeling emotionally drained, you must first find the main cause of it all. Review the reasons we listed above and see what fits your situation.

Once you know where the emotional strain is coming from, you can then take the necessary steps to change and eliminate the stressor.

2. Communicate with your loved ones

If the problem lies in your relationships, you need to acknowledge the problem and discuss it with those people.

It may not be resolved the first time you talk about it, but that first step will go a long way in improving your relationships—and your mental health. [Read: How to find inner peace in a messy relationship]

3. Put yourself first

You have to start thinking about yourself and what you need to survive. Do what you need to do to achieve your goals, but consider how this will affect those around you, as well.

The best way to do this is to delegate your tasks, take time to find what makes you happy, and pursue your dreams.

4. Change what you can

You can’t control how people think, but you can make small changes that can greatly improve your disposition.

Remember, you can improve your environment and how you take care of your body. You can also change how you think and react so that you can communicate better with the people around you. [Read: Be your own hero – What it means and how to take control of life]

5. Find your strength

None of this can be possible if you don’t believe that you can do it. Most of us are limited by what we were taught, like not being able to make a change because of a lack of money or time, or not having supportive people in our life. But that’s the thing: those are just limitations.

We can break through boundaries by finding strength in ourselves. If you need a little help, just take a look inside you, and try your hardest—chances are, you’ll see that you are capable of change.

6. Take a break from everything

Yes, this means a vacation. You need to clear your head and calm your emotions. Sometimes that means taking a step back from everyone and everything and just allowing yourself to be free of any outside influences.

Go take a weekend to yourself and get your emotions in check. [Read: 15 reasons why you should travel at least once a year]

7. Don’t try and push your emotions down

If you close yourself off and keep every single emotion you feel buried inside of you, you’ll end up emotionally exhausted.

Cry when you need to. Get mad when you need to. Confront people who upset you. Communicate your feelings and you’ll feel better. [Read: Calm your mind – how to get the inside voices out of your head]

8. Seek professional help

If you really can’t get a hold of your emotions, go ahead and seek professional help. There’s nothing wrong with getting help if it makes you feel better.

You don’t want your emotional exhaustion to impact your life permanently and sometimes, only professionals can help. [Read: Why am I so emotional? Emotional stability and 27 secrets to balance life]

9. Recognize you are only human

When emotionally exhausted, it is not something you want to admit to everyone. When you can’t take it anymore, it sometimes feels like giving up or that you failed.

That isn’t the case. Just pick up where you left off. But, sometimes you should learn to control the things you can and accept that which you can’t. You are only human, so stop beating yourself up for not being able to do everything.

10. Learn to say no

Emotional exhaustion comes from taking on the emotional ills of everyone else around you. If you’re too empathetic, you absorb the trials and tribulations of just about everyone in your life.

That leaves you an emotional sponge. At some point, you aren’t going to be able to take any more and find yourself emotionally exhausted—with your crap and everyone else’s.

If you learn to say no to taking on everyone else’s problems, you have more energy to deal with your own. [Read: How to say no – 15 ways to reason politely, stop pleasing, and feel kickass]

11. Forgive yourself

You could be feeling emotionally exhausted because you carry around a backpack of all the things out of your control, all the people you have done something to, or all the occasions you simply can’t grant yourself forgiveness for.

If you stop and give yourself a break by putting down the backpack every once in a while, you find life doesn’t have to be as heavy all the time.

Why do you always have to be so hard on yourself and expect more from yourself than you would from anyone else?

12. Do what you love just because you can

If you feel emotionally exhausted, you probably place everyone else’s needs before your own. There is no shame in taking time for yourself to unwind and work through your emotional hardships.

Find a hobby, set aside time to go for a run, or find that one thing that brings you solace. You deserve to have your own time. If you don’t take it, you are never going to heal from your exhaustion and fill back up.

13. Eat healthily

When you fill your body with all the nutrition it needs, it will reward you with strength and energy. Of course, when you have those two things, it’s much easier to focus and start to feel better in yourself.

Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, and go organic where you can. Of course, you can have your favorite snacks, but just enjoy them in moderation.

14. Exercise regularly

That doesn’t mean exercise to excess, but focus on regular, gentle to moderate exercise throughout the week.

When you move your body more, endorphins are released by the brain and they have an almost magical, uplifting effect on your emotional exhaustion. [Read: The benefits of exercise on your mind, body, and libido]

15. Limit alcohol use and cut out substance use

If you drink alcohol, it’s important to limit your intake as this will do nothing but worsen your emotional exhaustion.

If you use substances, it’s a very wise idea to stop. These are all negative coping mechanisms that will harm your progress and keep you stuck.

16. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is a very beneficial practice for everyone but when you feel emotionally drained, it’s even more beneficial.

Mindfulness helps you to manage your emotions and remain in the moment, therefore stopping you from acting out of anger or upset.

17. Use positive self-talk

Talk to yourself as if you were your own best friend—because you should be!

Show yourself some kindness and you’ll start to realize that taking on too much will only ever make you feel down and drained. [Read: Positive self-talk – what it is, where it comes from, and how to master it]

Positive mantras are easy to incorporate into your day and will have a revolutionary effect on your life.

Emotional exhaustion needs to be addressed

If you continue down the road you’re going, you’ll be burned out and unable to process anything that comes your way. It’s not a path to choose when you already know that you have a problem.

Choosing to do something about your emotional exhaustion now means that you’ll be able to overcome it and learn for the future. These tips should help you do just that.

[Read: How to deal with negative people and stop them sapping your energy]

By the time you’re done improving your emotional exhaustion, you will see that you don’t always have to feel so spent and broken down. There is a way to lift up your emotions, beginning with your desire for change.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...