People who are forced to go through life at full speed might miss some of the important warning signs that point to mental or physical exhaustion.
We have deadlines, busy schedules, responsibilities, promises, agendas, and mandatory routines that consume our daily lives. Still, we have to take time for our well-being and mental health, or the possibility of total exhaustion looms overhead.
Mental and physical exhaustion is often referred to as “burnout,” and that’s exactly what it feels like. Your body is tired, lacks energy, and feels like you have just ran a 100 mile marathon. Your mind is foggy, forgetful, and feels like sleep might fix everything…if only you could actually fall asleep when in bed.
Psychologist and author Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D. writes, “Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to: physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness.”
“You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden ‘have burnout.’ Its nature is much more insidious, creeping up on us over time like a slow leak, which makes it much harder to recognize. Still, our bodies and minds do give us warnings, and if you know what to look for, you can recognize it before it’s too late.”
Here are 5 warning signs of physical and mental exhaustion:
1. Chronic Fatigue (No Energy)
When you start to notice the first signs of exhaustion, you’ll feel a lack energy and most days will carry a weight of tiredness to them. Later on, the feelings of being completely drained and depleted make you dread what lies ahead for you during your day to day routine. You probably tell yourself “It’s just a phase,” or “I’ll get over it,” but the truth of the matter is you need to take time to appreciate the little things in life- even if you have to schedule that time for yourself.
2. Insomnia (Inability To Sleep Properly)
The Sleep Foundation reports that “most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but for some it’s a pattern that interferes with sleep on a regular basis. It’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become the norm.”
Being constantly faced with exhaustion can make sleep impossible to achieve. A good nights rest is vital for our mental and physical health, and some people require more hours than others.
Image: The Sleep Foundation
3. Brain Fog
One of the more overlooked warning signs of mental and physical exhaustion is experiencing “brain fog.” It can be difficult to keep your attention where it needs to be, and daily tasks get left behind, which triggers worry and anxiety in some.
Sherrie Bourg Carter explains that the early signs can show up as a “lack of focus and mild forgetfulness. Later, the problems may get to the point where you can’t get your work done and everything begins to pile up.”
This is a complicated cycle that seems to never end…until you reach the point of total exhaustion.
Due to the loss of appetite, lack of sleep, and inability to stay focused on what needs to be done, your life starts to unravel. Everything is only working at 50%, including your mind and body. You notice that your responsibilities leave you feeling worried that they will never get done, and even simple tasks have you questioning “what if.” This anxiety continues to feed the cycle until you take the time out you deserve.
5. Anger And Irritability
When every little thing starts to annoy you or get on your nerves, it might be time to take a break.
Carter says, “At first, this may present as interpersonal tension and irritability.” If you keep beating yourself up, you’re never going to heal. It might be frustrating to go through this right now, but there is never a good time to have a break down from exhaustion, and there is always a right time to recover.
Carter goes on to say, “In the latter stages, this may turn into angry outbursts and serious arguments at home and in the workplace.” If you are getting to the point to where you are taking your anger out on others, stop what you are doing, and go talk to a professional who can help guide you in the right direction.
If you are experiencing some, or all of these symptoms:
Take these warning signs seriously, and recognize that you are on a dangerous path towards mental and physical exhaustion.
Put your responsibilities on hold, and move your deadlines.
It is imperative that you take some time to honestly examine the amount of stress in your life. Physical and Mental exhaustion doesn’t go away on its own. You need to make some changes in your life, even if it seems like the hardest thing to do right now. The truth is, taking care of yourself is the smartest thing anyone can do.