Are you mentally exhausted? Here's how to tell (and what to do about it).
- Mental exhaustion is a symptom of long-term stress. It can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.
- There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain, which will then eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.
- Seeking medical assistance for mental exhaustion is common, with therapists working alongside patients to help develop healthy coping mechanisms and doctors assisting with treatments such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications where needed.
What is mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTc4NTU3OX0.iBdbs1EPqupUid5hsvZGyfNiEM_lsMvZM7UHHq8Z41Q/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C188%2C0%2C97&height=700" id="9b597" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b02945182cfd16b4010fea2238310c05" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="illustratioon woman leaning over desk stressed and exhausted concept of mental exhaustion and burnout" />
Knowing the symptoms of mental exhaustion can help you understand when to seek help.
Credit: Vectorium on Shutterstock<p>According to <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mentally-exhausted#symptoms" target="_blank">Medical News Today</a>, mental exhaustion can affect physical well-being, causing a person to feel physically exhausted.</p><p><strong>What are the symptoms of mental exhaustion? </strong></p><ul><li>Low emotional resilience</li><li>Feeling stressed or anxious</li><li>Cynicism or pessimism, feeling like nothing is going right</li><li>Apathy (a feeling of not caring)</li><li>Difficulty concentrating</li><li>Feelings of helplessness</li><li>Physical exhaustion or fatigue</li><li>Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)</li><li>Feelings of being overwhelmed</li><li>Low motivation</li><li>Feeling distracted or on edge</li><li>Difficulty with memory</li><li>Headaches</li><li>Drastic weight gain/loss</li><li>Changes in appetite</li><li>Depression/depressive symptoms</li><li>Suicidal ideation </li><li>Irritability </li></ul><p><strong>What is the difference between stress and mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Stress is something we all experience - it's the body's natural response to situations that are new, scary, worrisome, etc. The biological response is a surge of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) that helps us react quickly to perceived threats or high-pressure situations. With stress, once the "threat" has been removed, your body will stop the surge of hormones and you should go back to your normal state. </p><p>Mental exhaustion, however, is a symptom of long-term stress. When you are continually dealing with things that activate your body's natural stress response, your cortisol and adrenaline levels remain high. Eventually, this begins to interfere with your body's normal functions (such as digestions, sleep, your immune system, etc.). </p><p><strong>What causes mental exhaustion? </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion or "burn out" are terms that are often used to explain the feeling of being overworked or generally stressed about things relating to your work, but mental exhaustion can be caused by a long period of persistent stress in any areas of your life. It could be work, it could be your home life, or it could be a combination. </p><p>Mental exhaustion can be caused by high-pressure jobs, working long hours, being dissatisfied at work, being the caregiver for an ill loved one, living with a chronic illness, the sudden death of a loved one, poor work-life balance, lack of social support, or a number of other factors. </p><p><strong>How can I tell if I'm emotionally exhausted?</strong></p><p><a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Psychology Today</a> has an incredibly helpful "emotional exhaustion inventory" to check your status: </p><ol><li>I smile less frequently than I used to, even in situations I typically would find funny.</li><li>My senses seem dulled, so food tastes flat, music doesn't move me, back rubs give me no pleasure/release, and I reach for black or grey clothes.</li><li>I can't sleep. Either I can't fall asleep, stay asleep, or all I want to do is sleep. </li><li>Socializing is difficult. When I am with friends or family, I feel disconnected and have a hard time paying attention to what they say.</li><li>I get startled easily by voices, noises or movement. I feel jumpy and jittery. </li><li>I am more irritable than I used to be, especially in lines, online and on the phone. </li><li>My anxiety level is higher than usual, and crowds and traffic make me feel claustrophobic. </li><li>I cry more easily, particularly during movies, sad news reports, sentimental stories and even shows with happy endings.</li></ol><p>If any of these statements sound familiar, you could be dealing with mental/emotional exhaustion.</p>
How can you treat mental exhaustion?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyODkzMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTM2NzMyM30.87ZoD3LF4QI42oZwslTSxhH1LV6LYYjeXsXXKIHvqUU/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C353%2C0%2C354&height=700" id="6e07c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="edca51bb754a009eaf4a32a819fdc856" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="therapy illustration" />
Seeking medical assistance for emotional exhaustion can help you get back on track.
Credit: Evellean on Shutterstock<p>How can mental exhaustion be treated? There are some things you can do yourself to alleviate your mental strain and thus eliminate some of the mental exhaustion you're feeling.</p><p><strong>Remove the stressors in your life. </strong></p><p>If you're overwhelmed with your tasks at work, consider asking for help or delegating some of your tasks to others, if possible. If you're feeling overwhelmed at home, consider enlisting the help of a babysitter or house cleaner to eliminate some of your stress. </p><p><strong>Keep a journal. </strong></p><p>Writing can be extremely therapeutic. Writing about things you are thankful for (especially at a time in your life where you are overwhelmed) can positively impact your mental health way more than you realize. <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201905/8-questions-check-if-youre-emotionally-exhausted" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Research</a> has showed that people who practice gratitude (and gratitude expression exercises) often have a higher sense of well-being, fewer symptoms of physical illness, reduced stress, and higher relationship satisfaction.</p><p><strong>Exercise regularly.</strong></p><p>While you may not have time to visit the gym, there are many ways you can incorporate a bit of exercise into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs more often than the elevator at work, waking up early to go for a walk/run or even doing some physical activity while watching television at the end of the day. </p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1469029210000117" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2010 study</a> of 533 Swiss police officers and emergency service corps found that exercise was associated with enhanced health and actually protected against stress-related health problems. The participants of this study also reported feeling better prepared to cope with the chronic stress of their jobs. </p><p><strong>Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine. </strong></p><p>Meditation, according to a 2013 Bangkok study, lowers cortisol levels in the blood, which may then lower the risk of diseases associated with stress. If you're not into meditation, other forms of relaxation including yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, aromatherapy, or tai chi may also be helpful. </p><p><strong>Adjust your sleeping patterns. </strong></p><p>Sleep is essential for your emotional well-being. <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-exhaustion#treatment-and-coping" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">HealthLine</a> suggests developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it. It can also be particularly helpful if this routine occurs at roughly the same time every evening. This can be doing some light reading for a few minutes before bed at the same time every night, for example. </p><p><strong>Seek medical assistance from a doctor and/or therapist. </strong></p><p>Mental exhaustion is an incredibly real and difficult thing to cope with, and seeking medical treatment for it could be one of the best choices you make. A therapist, for example, can provide you with the tools you need to cope with daily stressors. A doctor can talk to you about your symptoms and potentially prescribe medicines (such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications) if they feel it may be helpful. </p>
Innovators don't ignore risk; they are just better able to analyze it in uncertain situations.
What exactly does "questions are the new answers" mean?
- Traditionally, intelligence has been viewed as having all the answers. When it comes to being innovative and forward-thinking, it turns out that being able to ask the right questions is an equally valuable skill.
- The difference between the right and wrong questions is not simply in the level of difficulty. In this video, geobiologist Hope Jahren, journalist Warren Berger, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, and investor Tim Ferriss discuss the power of creativity and the merit in asking naive and even "dumb" questions.
- "Very often the dumb question that is sitting right there that no one seems to be asking is the smartest question you can ask," Ferriss says, adding that "not only is it the smartest, most incisive, but if you want to ask it and you're reasonably smart, I guarantee you there are other people who want to ask it but are just embarrassed to do so."
Symptoms of mental illness in children are often dismissed as "going through a phase."
- A 2020 CDC study examined mental health symptoms in four different school districts within the United States from 2014-2018. This study found that, based on the reports from both teachers and parents, one in six students showed enough behavioral or emotional symptoms to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder.
- Mental health conditions or illnesses in children are generally defined as delays or disruptions in developing age-appropriate thinking, behaviors, social skills, or emotional regulation.
- Children can develop many of the same mental health conditions as adults, but their symptoms may be different.
1 in 6 (or 1 in 3, depending on the school district) children were shown to have enough symptoms to be diagnosed with a mental health condition.
Photo by Syda Productions on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/features/school-aged-mental-health-in-communities.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">A 2020 CDC study</a> examined mental health symptoms in four different school districts within the United States from 2014-2018. This study found that, based on the reports from both teachers and parents, one in six students showed enough behavioral or emotional symptoms to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder.</p><p><strong>What was the Project to Learn About Youth Mental Health (PLAY-MH) study?</strong></p><p>This was a school-based study conducted throughout the years of 2014-2018. This study was designed to estimate how many kindergarten - grade 12 students had specific mental health disorders. </p><p>The information was collected in two phases. In phase one, teachers in selected school districts were asked to complete a short questionnaire to determine a student's risk for a mental health disorder. In phase two, the parents of selected students were asked to complete a more structured interview to determine if their child met the criteria for a mental health disorder. Between 1 in 6 students (1 in 3 in some districts) fit the criteria, according to the combined data.</p><p>Teachers also identified a higher percentage of boys, non-Hispanic Black students, and students receiving free or reduced-price lunch as having a higher risk for mental disorders than their peers at most schools. However, based on the parent reports, there were generally no major demographic differences in the percentage of students who met the criteria for a mental disorder. This interesting discrepancy suggests that estimating effects of race or income on symptoms gave different results depending on the way the symptoms were examined. </p><p><strong>How can we help at-risk students?</strong></p><p>The information gathered during this four-year study can help parents, teachers, and communities alike to understand and become more aware of the mental health struggles of younger children. With this knowledge, interventions and treatments can become more normalized when dealing with children's mental health conditions.</p><p>The CDC has some suggestions for how we, as communities, can help our at-risk children:</p><ul><li>Schools can consider screening students for mental health concerns and then following up with effective services and counseling options. </li><li>Pediatric and family clinics can use this information to establish how many children may be at risk. </li><li>Communities and parents can work together with school systems to integrate mental health services and referrals into the schools. </li></ul>
Common mental health disorders in children, according to experts<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzk1NDc4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODg4NzYwMH0.C3dNExRsuVrcDvs_z68q2FY62kee157DLvBtubmmq8A/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="7b6fe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a6b046f215f2c8d99c44d09de0dbdef3" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Stressed and anxious student sitting at desk during exam" />
Anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, ADHD, ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and eating disorders are among commonly overlooked mental health conditions in children.
Photo by Monkey Business Images on Shutterstock<p><a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/mental-illness-in-children/art-20046577" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to experts</a>, these are some of the most common disorders among children:</p><p><strong>Anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders):</strong> These conditions may appear as persistent fears, worries, or anxiety that disrupt their ability to participate in play, school, or other typical age-appropriate activities.</p><p><strong>Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD):</strong> Children who struggle with ADHD have difficulty with attention, tend to have impulsive behaviors, generalized hyperactivity, or some combination of these issues. </p><p><strong>Depression (or other mood disorders): </strong>Depression in children presents as persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest that disrupt their ability to function in school and interact with others. </p><p><strong>Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):</strong> PTSD is a prolonged state of emotional distress and anxiety that is prefaced with negative memories, nightmares, and disruptive behaviors in response to a traumatic event the child may have suffered. </p><p><strong>Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): </strong>This is a neurological condition that often can be noticed in early childhood (before the age of three), if you know what to look for. The severity of ASD can vary— a child with this disorder has difficulty communicating and interacting with others.</p><strong>Eating disorders: </strong>Eating disorders show as a preoccupation with an ideal body type. These include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.<p><br></p><p>You can read the full study <a href="https://link.springer.com/epdf/10.1007/s10578-020-01027-z?sharing_token=a3EvHilTjILJ1pJ3KXQQP_e4RwlQNchNByi7wbcMAY64y5G2OhNS1lAeStiE_xCQ5Ke8aBy4C65sfPZeG19uCwJxFWfAgXejmrE2lLmeYUPkpgNGQgq5jMOY-830oPGU5UOPil0_vjxCu9D4EOPVGt5v1H35kEN5sBTGFb5YJJ8%3D" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p>
Can we affirm everything in life, the beauty and the suffering? Nietzsche says yes.
There cannot be any comparable sentence in the history of Western thought.
German philosopher and writer Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900).
Hulton Archive/Getty Images<p>But to reach this affirmation, first a person must fully and genuinely become aware of his own situation – and draw radical consequences from it. In Nietzsche's view, Christianity was a religion based on resentment, and thus on the sense of dislike or even envy that the weak harbour towards the strong – dislike or envy that is institutionalized, harnessed to an entire, complex mythological system, at the centre of which stands a figure of sanctified weakness, humility and modesty. According to Nietzsche, this is nothing other than a systematic means of depriving man of access to his own power, and at the same time it is the perfect way to exalt those who have voluntarily renounced this access. This form of exaltation also has a deeper sense, in that it gives the representatives of religious institutions a guarantee that the believers will be obedient to them, and by this token their position will remain unthreatened. And so the main purpose of this sort of ideology is to restrain those who could by nature pose a genuine threat to the domination of religious institutions.</p><p>Whereas Zarathustra brings a new message that allows mankind to break the chains for good and all, and to overthrow the last vestiges of the old order. Vestiges that were not so much material, as rooted in thinking and ethics based on Christian values. This is exactly what is meant by another famous Nietzschean maxim, about 'the revaluation of all values' – the profound revision of a moral system that, under the guise of goodness and noble-mindedness, leads above all to slavery.</p><p>In any case, the theme of an endless play-off between strength and weakness was, according to Nietzsche, central to the history of humanity long before Christianity became its dominant religion. This is superbly demonstrated by Professor Tadeusz Bartoś in his latest book, <em>Klątwa Parmenidesa</em> [The Curse of Parmenides]. Nietzsche had already perceived this sort of conflict within Greek culture, which for him was the basic point of departure. It was expressed in various features, including the famous division into what was Dionysian and what was Apollonian: chaos, passion and ecstasy versus structure, rationality and abstract thought.</p>