Mental exhaustion: symptoms, signs and causes

You notice that you feel tired and exhausted after intensive physical activity, right? Well, the same rule of exhaustion applies when we go through long periods of intense mental activity. Prolonged mental activity without rest can rob you of your mental peace and sanity. Mental exhaustion, also called burnout or mental fatigue, is a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress, overwork, or an imbalance between responsibilities and resources. Recognizing the signs of mental exhaustion, understanding its underlying causes, and learning effective strategies to avoid it are crucial steps to maintaining good mental health and overall well-being.

Health Shots contacted Jaisleen Kaur, Image Consultant, Soft Skills Trainer and Life Coach, Dehradun, to understand the signs and symptoms of mental burnout and the reasons behind it.

Watch out for these signs of mental exhaustion. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the signs and symptoms of mental exhaustion?

Your body can warn you when you’re mentally exhausted, and some of the common signs are listed below, according to the expert.

1. Persistent fatigue

“A feeling of fatigue despite sufficient rest, which leads to a constant lack of energy and motivation,” explains the expert. You feel tired and low on energy almost all the time, and some days getting out of bed to complete daily tasks feels like a task.

2. Reduced performance

Experiencing a decline in productivity, creativity and efficiency in tasks, both at work and in personal life, are signs of mental exhaustion. Mental fatigue begins to affect every aspect of your life, from personal relationships to professional delays. Motivation and creativity to succeed at work or in life are reduced.

3. Emotional detachment

“A mentally exhausted person feels withdrawn from social interactions, feels emotionally numb, experiences a sense of detachment from loved ones, and loses interest in activities they once enjoyed,” says Jasleen Kaur.

4. Negative perception

There is a drastic change in the attitude of a mentally exhausted person. This person takes a pessimistic outlook, views challenges as insurmountable obstacles, and dwells on failures.

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5. Avoidance of communication

“A person who feels mentally tired views difficult conversations as challenges and avoids conversations. At the same time, he becomes insensitive and isolates himself from his friends, family and colleagues.

6. Cognitive difficulties

A mentally exhausted person has difficulty concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things.

7. Physical symptoms

“Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, gastrointestinal problems and frequent illnesses are the result of a weakened immune system and sleep disorders due to burnout,” explains the expert.

signs of mental exhaustion
Recognize burnout and fix it! Image provided by: Shutterstock

What causes mental exhaustion?

Some of the common causes of mental exhaustion are:

1. Excessive workload

Juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities without enough time to relax leads to mental exhaustion.

Also read: Are you feeling the working mother’s burnout? Know the warning signs and how to fix them

2. Lack of control

A person who feels powerless and unable to influence decisions or outcomes in their personal or professional life feels mentally exhausted.

3. Lack of recognition

A lack of recognition or appreciation for one’s efforts and contributions leads to a lack of motivation in the person.

4. Unrealistic Expectations

Setting incredibly high standards for yourself and being unable to meet them leads to a feeling of perpetual failure. Striving for perfection in all tasks leads to excessive self-criticism and dissatisfaction, even with minor mistakes.

5. Poor communication

Failure to express feelings, needs or concerns, resulting in misunderstandings and unresolved conflicts, can lead to emotional exhaustion.

6. Lack of social support

A person who feels isolated and unsupported, who does not have a network of friends, family or colleagues to rely on is more likely to feel mentally exhausted.

7. Job dissatisfaction

Actively participating in a toxic work environment or being bullied or harassed and feeling undervalued at work leads to mental burnout.

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