Updated: Oct 27
It’s been a tough couple of years for a lot of people and just about everyone I know (including myself) is feeling drained. Whatever you believe, pandemic or scamdemic, COVID-19, and other more current global events have hammered everyone, one way or another.
But, life still goes on with the usual stressors playing a role in making us feel exhausted - mind, body, and soul. Emotional exhaustion is an expected fallout when you’re constantly living in a state of overwhelm. Being exposed to uncertainty and fear on a daily basis will eventually make you feel very tired and drained. But, what can you do about it?
Read on as I talk about emotional exhaustion, what it is, and how to identify if this is the cause of you feeling worn out and weary with life. I’m also sharing 21 simple but effective ways to recharge yourself - mind, body, and soul.
What is Emotional Exhaustion?
Emotional exhaustion refers to the state of feeling completely fatigued and worn out with life. If you find yourself saying, “I am feeling so drained”, it’s safe to say you’re battling emotional exhaustion. This state of being is caused by constant exposure to stressors in all areas of your life.
Stress triggers could be any of the following:
High levels of pressure in the work environment (think of our frontline health workers and what they’ve been enduring for the past couple of years!)
Raising a family
Working in a job that makes you unhappy or having put in long hours
Loss of a job
Financial insecurities or lack of money
Caring for a sick loved one
Divorce (especially those that are dragged out)
Suffering from a chronic or terminal illness
Unstable local and global events
When these stressors accumulate, your mind, body, and soul start to object vehemently! The result is total exhaustion and weariness. You no longer feel you have any control over your life and your resilience levels are depleted. Often, you feel complete despair as you think you’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Emotional exhaustion affects you mentally, physically, and spiritually. When you find yourself in this state, you’re no longer able to function optimally in all areas of your life. It’s not a good place to be!
Watch this informative animated video that talks about what leads to emotional exhaustion.
Signs You Are Emotionally Exhausted
Besides feeling drained, there are other signs that indicate you could be suffering from emotional exhaustion. These include any or all of the following:
No motivation or drive to do anything
High levels of irritability
No sense of hope
Lack of interest in anything or anyone
A constant state of nervousness
Apprehension or uneasiness
Being pessimistic about everything
Outbursts of anger and frustration
Depression and anxiety
If not managed properly, emotional exhaustion can lead to burnout.
21 Ways to Manage Emotional Exhaustion
It’s absolutely essential to visit your medical practitioner to rule out any underlying health conditions that could be causing any of the above signs. Speaking to your family doctor will also help you find ways to treat your emotional state.
I, myself, have been facing emotional exhaustion this year, and here are some of the ways I use to help me navigate my way through feeling drained. I’ve also included other ways used by clients, friends, and family that may help you too.
1. Acknowledge It
The first step to recharging your mind, body, and soul is acknowledging something is out of kilter. When you can identify the cause of your feeling, you can start managing the overwhelm. Whatever stressors are causing you to feel worn out, it needs to be processed and handled in such a way that allows you to feel stronger.
Acknowledging you’re emotionally exhausted gives you permission to start healing yourself.
2. Have a Healthy Eating Plan
It’s only normal to want to eat junk or comfort food the minute you feel stressed. These foods give you a temporary mood lift and for a moment all feels good again. However, it doesn’t take long for the crash to happen and you’re once more left feeling exhausted. Implementing a healthy eating plan gives your body the fuel it needs to deal with stressors.
By feeding your body with the right foods, you’re showing it love and care. You’re also building up your immune system and keeping it strong so you have the strength to face a stressful life.
3. Start Moving
Exercise is another good way of getting your energy levels peaking again. By raising your serotonin and endorphins levels, you’re helping your body to feel better emotionally too. While it may seem challenging to get out of bed, let alone start exercising when you’re feeling drained, just do it!
A 15-minute walk around the block is better than nothing. I often do a few laps up and down my stairway to lift my mood and it works every time. Exercise also helps to take your focus off all the problems and lets you be in the moment.
4. Be Present
I can’t emphasize enough the power of being present. When you live in the moment, you’re not ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. You’re just BEING and doing what has to be done now. When I’m facing very stressful times, I bring my attention to the moment no matter what activity I’m doing.
It could be as simple as focusing on every word I’m writing here now. Or, as I wash the dishes, make sure I focus on how the soapy water feels, the way the dishes are being cleaned, and drying each item mindfully.
5. Color in Mandalas
My partner introduced me to the idea of coloring in mandalas when he used this trick to manage his own emotional exhaustion. My brother also resorted to coloring in his children’s coloring books when he lost his daughter a few years ago.
Coloring in mandalas or any other pictures is a wonderful way of taking your mind off the problems and focusing on what’s happening as you color in pictures.
Even if you find it difficult to meditate for long periods of time, choose to sit quietly even for five minutes. By giving your mind a break from the task in front of you, you’re giving yourself a chance to recharge. Meditation is a powerful technique for bringing calmness, balance, and harmony. Set aside time every day to meditate, be it five minutes or one hour.
7. Sigh and Breathe
The other day, someone told me to take a deep sigh and breathe. The act of taking a deep sigh releases all tension in your body. And, then taking three deep breaths from your stomach allows your body to unblock any stagnant energy that has built up because of stress. Do this as often as you need to throughout the day.
My therapist suggested I do it every time I complete a task before tackling the next one. It works every time. I do need to remind myself to do it and I have one client who puts a timer on her cellphone every half hour. She then stops for a minute or two and takes a deep sigh before inhaling and exhaling three times.
8. Spend Time in the Park
Being outdoors in nature has been proven to help people manage their stress levels. Walking in your local park is a good way to get in some exercise while benefitting from the trees and other plants in the area. But, you could sit on a bench and watch the dogs play, or observe the birds and other wildlife as they get on with their daily tasks.
I get a lot of joy watching dogs gleefully chase each other around our doggie park. Their pure delight in all the open space infects my own sense of well-being and I always leave feeling uplifted.
9. Play With Children
Take time out and play a game with your children. And, if you don’t have kiddies of your own, borrow your nieces, nephews, cousins, or your friends’ kids. Children's energy is delightful when they’re happy and having fun.
Hearing them laugh, watching them smile, and seeing them completely captivated in imaginary games are all ways of helping you escape momentarily from stressors.
Tapping into your own childlike state of mind allows you to forget about being an adult and lets you enjoy the moment too. Children have no care for the past or future – we can learn a thing or two from them!
Laughter has been known to lift your spirits in no time at all but we forget to do it when we’re feeling drained. Try watching a good comedy or find a friend who knows how to make you laugh. Fake it until you make it and simply start laughing. You may feel idiotic doing it but you’ll also feel a whole lot better too.
If you find you’re taking life too seriously then consider what you’re consuming. Maybe you need to lighten up on your choices of movies, TV programs, or books. Bring some joy in and start being amused by what you watch or read.
11. Go Camping
There’s something extremely soul-restoring about being out in the great outdoors, camping under the stars. I love to feel the hard earth under my body as I snuggle down into my sleeping bag in our tent.
Sitting next to a campfire, under a full moon is good for your mind, body, and soul. And, so is lying in a hammock under huge tree canopies in the middle of the day.
Taking a break and going camping is one of my surefire ways of recharging my mind, body, and soul. And, if camping isn’t your scene, find other ways of taking a break from everyday life. Get yourself a hammock and pretend you're outdoors camping if you don't have the time to take a break from everyday life!
12. Write in a Journal
Journaling is a powerful tool everyone should be doing daily. Writing in a journal helps you to express what is happening in your life and how you feel. It’s a safe way of reflecting on yourself without feeling ridiculed for the way you’re feeling. Journaling often brings solutions to the problems you’re facing.
14. Book a Therapy Session
When you’re emotionally exhausted, you often can’t see the wood for the trees. Your view on life becomes narrowed down to tiny details without you seeing the bigger picture. Booking a session with a therapist is a good way of unpacking what is bothering you and understanding what needs to change.
Therapy gives you the techniques and tools you need to manage a stressful time in your life.
I chat to my therapist regularly and it’s amazing how many times she reminds me of the tools and techniques I already know but have forgotten during times of stress.
I always end up feeling grounded and energized after a session with her and can face moving forward again with less fear.
15. Start a Hobby
Have you got a hobby you’ve always wanted to start but never got around to it? Maybe this is the time to do it. Doing something you love helps you to take your mind off the stressors of your life. A hobby requires your full attention and oftentimes, being creative gives you the solution to issues overwhelming you too!
Hobbies are wonderful ways of ensuring you’re doing something that you’re passionate about in your part-time. They bring balance to your life while fulfilling your need to be creative.
16. Book a Tarot Reading
Every now and then I will book a tarot reading with my spiritual teacher. This helps me to reconnect spiritually as well as get the guidance I need to recharge my mind and body. I also do my own tarot readings and they’ve always given me the insight and reassurance I need to find hope again.
Make sure you use a tarot reader who is professional and compassionate about your state of well-being.
17. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is not a selfish act. If anything, it’s absolutely vital if you want to recharge and maintain a balanced mind, body, and soul. Self-care includes being kind to yourself. It means being gentle and not beating yourself up when you don’t feel good about life.
Self-care is about doing what’s right for you and expressing the same kind of lovingkindness you show others, to yourself.
18. Take a Warm Bath With Epsom Salts
An example of self-care is taking regular warm baths with Epsom salts. This is known to detox your body while promoting healing. Epsom salts have many benefits including releasing tension in your body, reducing stress, and helping you sleep better at night.
Soaking in a tub with warm water and Epsom salts will help alleviate anxiety as well as aches and pains often associated with stress.
19. Work With Personal Core Values
When you’ve acknowledged you’re dealing with emotional exhaustion, you may need to make some serious decisions to start healing. Identifying your personal core values can give you a valuable tool to guiding you through these decisions.
When you know what’s most important to you in life, you can start to eliminate those factors that contribute to your emotional exhaustion.
Every client of mine knows how essential it is to work with their personal core values. These become their compass through life, helping them find the right direction whenever they need to make changes.
20. Connect With Loved Ones
Too often, during stressful times, we tend to withdraw and become isolated. In many ways, this has also been enforced on us with COVID-19 lockdowns around the world. Losing our connection with loved ones is known to lead to emotional exhaustion. It’s essential to keep the connection going even if it means doing it over Zoom.
Make sure the people you connect with are in your consensus circle. In other words, they build you up and light your fire rather than further deplete you into a state of exhaustion! Social interaction on all levels is vital and the best company will recharge your mind, body, and soul.
21. Routine is Key to a Healthy Life
Implementing a daily routine makes you feel in control of your life when all else seems to be falling apart. A daily routine helps you to create a healthy work-life balance. It includes waking up at the same time every day, making your bed, and eating three healthy meals every day.
A daily routine helps you to find time to exercise, do the things you love doing, and to find the time to be mindful. When we first went into lockdown here in South Africa, I drew up a daily routine to ensure the wheels didn’t fall off while being stuck at home.
It helped me to manage the uncertainty and fears associated with the COVID-19 pandemic while still feeling in control of my own life.
Emotional exhaustion is no joke. It strips you of feeling any hope for the future and stops you from living life to the fullest. It depletes you of your energy and drains you mentally. Emotional exhaustion shows up in many different ways and makes you want to give up. But, my brother advocates that life is for living and it should be done to its fullest. I couldn’t agree with him more.
So, be kind to yourself when you’re feeling emotionally exhausted, do what you can to manage it, and recharge your mind, body, and soul so you can get back into the front seat for the ride of your life!
“Quit hanging onto the handrails…Let go. Surrender. Go for the ride of your life. Do it every day.” – Melody Beattie
This post was first published on August 25th, 2021, and updated on October 5th, 2022.