Imagine a vase on which you put a brick. That’s fine. If you put two more bricks on top of it you can see that cracks are beginning to appear in the vase. If you continue to lay bricks on top of them, you will come to a point where the vase breaks. There is almost no material that you can put under infinite pressure before it breaks or cracks start to appear. People are no different!
What is emotional exhaustion?
When you are constantly getting more and more on your plate and can never really recharge properly, it may well be that at some point you are not feeling well anymore. When such a situation persists for too long, or threatens to become chronic at some point, you may constantly start to feel empty, tired and exhausted. All kinds of complaints arise, physical and mental, which are not always easy to recognise.
Occasionally being very tired is quite normal and occasionally a pain too. In the case of emotional or mental exhaustion, these symptoms will not go away on their own. You constantly feel exhausted and there is always something there. You may feel flu-like, suffer from insomnia, be shaky, no longer have an appetite or feel a total lack of zest for life and joy. You also feel empty, you suffer from a negative self-image and everything is always too much for you.
How do you become emotionally exhausted?
With physical complaints, it is often easy to find out exactly what is going on. Psychological complaints are usually more difficult. Because we are constantly subject to all the processes and thoughts in our heads, it can be difficult to find out exactly why you are so burned up. Often it is an accumulation of all kinds of factors that cause the problem.
The two most common factors involved in a feeling of mental or emotional exhaustion are work and your social life.
Causes of mental/emotional exhaustion
The causes of mental and emotional exhaustion.
Work that demands a lot from you and has many stressful moments, such as deadlines, can ask a lot from you. Strangely enough, this is often not the main cause of emotional exhaustion. A lack of appreciation for all that hard work eats away at a lot more. Constant criticism or people who take everything you do for granted create a situation in which you feel less and less like the challenges of your work.
In the event of too much work pressure, a situation may arise in which you feel you are always going to work, or coming back from work. Whether you are taking work home with you or going on weekends, the work keeps coming.
Work and private life
When you can no longer find the dividing line between work and private life, you can become overly emotionally involved in your work. If you get criticism about your work or something goes wrong during a working day, you sometimes feel bad about it for days and you don’t see many other important things in your life anymore.
Tensions on the work floor
If you feel that you have a reasonable degree of control over a situation, you are often reasonably satisfied. However, when you have to listen to others a lot as part of your work, or feel that what you are doing has little impact, it can also exhaust you. Mutual tension between colleagues or a boss can also contribute to overburdening.
A social life
The people you surround yourself with after work, your friends and family, can also cause emotional or mental exhaustion. When you generally get little support from the people around you, or you don’t give yourself moments to let off steam, you can start to feel isolated and lonely.
If you or those around you have unrealistic expectations of yourself, you may feel that you are expected to constantly regulate or resolve everything.
When you have small children or someone else you take care of, it is very difficult to guard your own boundaries. After all, you don’t want to let people suffocate and you walk past yourself, sometimes chronically. You start to get more and more tired and find yourself less and less important.
As long as the other person is doing well, you will be able to cope. At least, you can tell yourself that for a while, but at a certain moment, just like that vase, the pressure often becomes too much.
Symptoms of exhaustion
Diagnosing such a feeling of exhaustion and the physical complaints that go with it is not that easy. All the more so because people are different from each other and do not all deal with pressure in the same way. One will experience more physical complaints, while the other will start to feel very miserable, especially mentally. However, there are symptoms that you can keep an eye on.
When you suffer from mental or emotional exhaustion, your body reacts violently to it. The emergency brake is constantly being pulled, as it were, to indicate that you need to slow down a bit. Because that often doesn’t seem possible, it is often extra stressful to have to do all that work if you don’t feel well at all.
They are often a little ‘vague complaints’, which people say they belong to. However, if you experience these symptoms more often, take them seriously and don’t underestimate that they may also be part of a larger problem.
- Lack of appetite
- A constant feeling of exhaustion
- Abdominal pain or intestinal distress
When you are constantly overworked, when you don’t get your own thoughts and don’t seem to have time to do something fun or relax once in a while, your mental state often deteriorates rapidly. It is quite normal to be a bit more pessimistic or a bit less cheerful now and then, but here too: if you experience these complaints more often, that is a reason to sound the alarm.
Not only is it annoying to feel this way, but the cause of these feelings can also be more complex than you think. So pay extra attention to yourself for the following symptoms!
- Lack of concentration
- No more creativity or imagination
- You no longer have the patience to listen or pay attention to people.
- You don’t care any more
- You wonder what you’re actually doing and what it’s good for.
- You set yourself up for the worst
- You have the feeling that everything you do doesn’t matter or fails
- A negative self-image
- Feelings of futility
- It’s hard to make real contact.
Increased risk of exhaustion
All people are different. One can cope with the most stressful situations without flinching, while the other may become disordered a little quicker. Whatever type you are, it is important that you know what is important to you. When you are in danger of losing sight of what you can still recharge, you soon find yourself on slippery ice.
Below we summarize a number of causes that also lead to mental or emotional exhaustion:
In the case of mental or emotional exhaustion, it is not the case that it always occurs in people with a certain personality. However, there are certain character traits that can cause you to become exhausted more quickly, or that can make you lose sight of yourself.
Always doing your best and only being ready when everything is absolutely perfect is, of course, a nice attitude. But be careful not to ask too much of yourself. Especially if you are already overburdened, it is important to know when something is good enough. Also, perfectionism in case of overburdening can cause fear of failure. You don’t start anything because you feel you can’t do it ‘well’ after all.
Some people are natural optimists by nature. Others think a bit more and have a tendency to panic. They see the risks of situations more quickly, worry more often and often believe less in themselves.
As a result, everyday situations often seem bigger than they are and the fun things sometimes seem like a chore. Fortunately you can influence these thought patterns to a certain extent, but if you are naturally more pessimistic, it can sometimes be more difficult.
Body’s own stress reactions
Not every body deals with excitement in the same way. Excitement is a state of the body in which certain substances such as adrenaline and cortisol are produced. In stressful situations we, as primeval humans, have had a lot of these substances, because they allow you to run faster and thus escape from a dangerous situation or better fight an enemy.
Nowadays, we still make these substances, but they no longer always serve their purpose. The physical reactions associated with this, such as palpitations, faster breathing, increased muscle tension and higher blood pressure, are now particularly annoying.
When you experience a physical reaction to stress, it often takes a while before those substances in your body are broken down again and you become calm again. If you quickly experience a stress reaction, it is important to be aware of this, so that you know what is going on.
Mismatch in your job
Whether you like long and detailed work on large projects or challenging physical work, it is important that what you do suits you. If in your daily life you constantly have to do things in a way that doesn’t suit you, it quickly leads to exhaustion. You can feel like a fish on dry land if you constantly have to turn yourself into something you are not very good at or don’t enjoy.
When you are constantly trying to please everyone, it may seem to contribute to the conviviality and harmony of your life. When it is good, you are also very much appreciated for your generous attitude towards others, although this is not always the case. By constantly occupying yourself with what others need, you can only get away with it once in a while.
There is always someone who asks something of you, so that you no longer get what you think is important and what you need in order to be able to function. Concern about whether people like you and think you are good enough can also be part of this character trait.
Mental or emotional exhaustion? Act early!
In a busy world it is often very difficult to guard your borders. When does ‘often get tired’ actually become ‘too often tired’ How many bad days in a row can you have before you start to worry? Often mental or emotional exhaustion is a kind of sliding scale. A full and busy life in which you first feel very happy can then start to feel like a thundering train, in which you feel trapped.
Heavy periods are, of course, familiar to all of us, and with the right support from the people around you, you can often handle them quite well. However, when you start to feel that your life is becoming more and more tiring and you don’t seem to be able to feel pleasure anymore, that’s a moment to sound the alarm.
Often, going through with complaints of overtiredness doesn’t, as you think, make it all go away by itself. If your battery becomes more and more empty and you can never recharge it, after a while more serious complaints will arise, which will take a long time to disappear.
If you recognize yourself in the above complaints and would like to get started, please contact us and we will inform you about what our coaches can do for you.
Training and coaching
Milltain provides training and coaching for private individuals and organisations. Our team consists of 35 coaches and trainers who have now helped thousands of people struggling with stress and burnouts.
Milltain for private individuals:
Are you stuck in life because of stress or a burnout? We developed an effective online program that is fully focused on the complete recovery from a burnout. More than 2000 people have successfully completed this training!
Movement and nature play prominent roles in this training. Recovery is a process that contains peaks and troughs, and that’s something we know all about. Our highly experienced coaches provide you with active support.
Learn more: Stress and burnout coaching
Milltain for organisations:
With the help of a team of experienced trainers, Milltain supports organisations in the prevention of stress and the (re) finding of work happiness in the workplace. A single burnout can easily cost an organisation € 70,000 (or more!)
In addition to financial suffering, the human suffering is great. Not only for the employee but also for close colleagues who have to deal with the blows. Before long, you find yourself in a negative vicious circle.
Get long-term absence and stress among employees under control with the help of our highly effective team training via Zoom or a similar tool.
This training has proven to be an international success for both managers (leadership skills) and employees (dealing with stress).
Learn more: Online team training
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