How to treat emotional exhaustion during times of unrest

When challenging events in life that just keep coming, you can feel emotionally worn out and drained.

  • Wednesday, October 14, 2020 1:30am
  • Life

Mayo Clinic News Network

Local and world events have brought out strong emotions and stressors this year, often one right after another. They include COVID-19, social distancing, quarantines, stay-at-home orders, furloughs, job loss, masking, racial injustice, protests and demonstrations. There’s no question 2020 has been a year full of change and trauma.

In addition to social unrest, you may be experiencing a high-pressure job, financial stress or poverty, being a caregiver, raising children, chronic illness or death of a family member or friend.

You may be wondering what’s next or what else you will have to endure. As these events unfold, you may begin to feel unwell and irritable, and struggle to concentrate and motivate yourself. You may not even know what is causing how you are feeling. You can feel trapped or stuck. You’re emotionally exhausted.

What is emotional exhaustion?

When stress begins to accumulate from negative or challenging events in life that just keep coming, you can find yourself in a state of feeling emotionally worn out and drained. This is called emotional exhaustion. For most people, emotional exhaustion tends to slowly build up over time. Emotional exhaustion includes emotional, physical and performance symptoms.

Emotional symptoms include: Anxiety, apathy, depression, feeling hopeless, feeling powerless or trapped, irritability, lack of motivation, nervousness and tearfulness.

Physical symptoms include: Fatigue, headaches, lack of appetite, sore muscles or muscle tension

Performance symptoms include: Failing to meet deadlines, lower workplace commitment, more absences and performing work duties more slowly.

Emotional exhaustion treatments

Emotional exhaustion can be treated by recognizing the stressors you are able to minimize or eliminate. When you are unable to change a stressor because it is out of your control, it is important to focus on the present moment. In your present, there are many neutral or positive events occurring. When you focus on these types of events, it gives perspective about what is happening around you.

Stress often is interpreted as a threat to survival. When this happens, it increases the release of stress hormones from your brain, further contributing to your experience of emotional exhaustion. When you are able to focus on small neutral or positive events, your brain is able to understand that the threat is not as dire as it may first seem. The amount of stress hormone released is decreased so you are able are able to feel more emotionally balanced.

Other strategies to reduce emotional exhaustion include: Eliminate or minimize the stressor when possible; eat a healthy, balanced diet; exercise, get enough sleep and practice mindfulness to engage in the present moment

Talk with a mental health provider if you believe that you are suffering from emotional exhaustion. They can help you sort through the causes and symptoms you are experiencing to determine a plan that will help you regain a sense of well-being.

Talk to us

More in Life

USA, Washington, Woodinville. Brian Carter Cellars.
Region’s fortified wines provide sweet warmth on chilly nights

They’re an ideal companion with a fireplace nearby, a plate of hazelnuts and Stilton cheese within reach.

Woodford Reserve Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, is the most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released, with a suggested $2,000 price tag. (Woodford Reserve/TNS)
Most expensive Woodford Reserve ever released available in US

The Baccarat Edition, previously only available to overseas travelers, has a suggested $2,000 price tag.

Baked apple cider doughnuts. (Dreamstime/TNS)
After you get the apple cider, it’s time to make doughnuts

Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg usually hold court for that nostalgic apple-cider doughnut flavor.

Jim Jamison and Stephanie Schisler wrote and illustrated "What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me." (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Bothell grandfather brews up a children’s book

Bothell’s Jim Jamison, owner of Foggy Noggin Brewing, wrote “What Would I Be If I Couldn’t Be Me?,” and his daughter, Stephanie Schisler, illustrated it.

pickles
In a pickle during lockdown? Try this innovative recipe

Coronavirus home cooking is now a part of American life. Sometimes you… Continue reading

Cauliflower steak with bean and tomato salad. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)
Trendy cauliflower steak makes an easy vegetarian dinner

Cut a head of cauliflower into 1-inch steaks, add a prepared pesto sauce and let the oven do the rest.

Vaccines promise health — and fun — for a family tired of social distancing. (Jennifer Bardsley)
COVID-19 pandemic brings a new appreciation for flu shots

After not leaving the house for weeks, a drive-thu appointment to get an influenza vaccine is an adventure.

The grille, front bumper, and headlights are newly designed on the 2020 Honda CR-V.
2020 Honda CR-V has styling updates and equipment add-ons

The entry-level LX model joins the other trims with a standard turbo engine and driver-assist technology.

The wide sidewalks of the Champs-Elysées invite strolling. (Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli, Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves on the Champs-Elysees, the grand Parisian promenade

With its sprawling sidewalks and well-dressed pedestrians, this grand boulevard is Paris at its most Parisian.

Most Read