4 Signs That You Are Emotionally Drained
I remember struggling with a mixture of guilt, frustration, and disappointment after my graduation and during my job-hunting season. It was a difficult transition period where I often felt very demotivated and directionless. That time, I chose to bottle up my true emotions from others and thought that things will improve with time. Before I knew it, I was experiencing extreme stress, anxiety, and yes, emotional exhaustion with the whole situation.
Here are several common signs that I have noticed among those who are emotionally drained.
1. Lack of motivation and enthusiasm
This marks an obvious change of attitude from your usual behaviour. If you are usually proactive, you might find yourself hesitating or procrastinating to start doing or continuing something that you have planned or usually do.
You might even come out with excuses to withdraw more frequently from your usual activities, daily interaction, or even your loved ones. You will also find yourself saying phrases like “It’s not fun…” and “There’s no point doing this…” whenever someone suggests something.
2. Unpredictable mood swings
It is getting hard to control your emotions or even understand yourself at times. You get extremely sensitive that even the slightest thing irritates or offends you. You sometimes imagine yourself lashing out or really losing your temper even when you don’t mean it. There are also moments where you are fed up with what is going on, and just want to run away and hide under your blanket and cry all day. The emotions are running at the extremes for both ends.
3. Struggling with anxiety thoughts
One of the reasons why anxiety is so common is because we feel the need to always be in control. And when things don’t go the way you expect, your mind will start weighing you down with the worst scenarios possible and you feel hopeless about the future.
It becomes overwhelming when these thoughts start to occupy your mind on a habitual, regular basis. It will soon take a toll on your emotional health because it then develops into a pattern of “trapped mindset”.
4. Interrupted sleep pattern, insomnia, and fatigue
If you are starting to experience irregular sleeping patterns and difficulty falling asleep, it is an obvious sign that you are feeling emotionally drained. Accumulated and unresolved thoughts can disrupt your sleeping patterns because your mind is still actively thinking even though your body is in a “rest” state. You might have short hours of quality sleep and if this persists, you will most likely experience fatigue the next day which will lead to decreased productivity at your work and home.
Despite how challenging it may feel at times, rest assured that there are several practical ways that you can refer to overcome this and bounce back stronger.
1. Recognize and acknowledge your triggers
It is important to take time to identify your stressors aka the real reasons that make you feel that way. At times, you find yourself experiencing the same tiring cycle simply because you are in denial.
It could be a toxic working environment, stressful and hurtful relationships/ situations that are beyond your control, the act of taking up too many responsibilities (trying to please everyone), or an unpredictable hit to your finances.
Simply put, you need to get to the root of the problem and accept that certain things are beyond your control. This could mean saying no to certain requests, moving on from some relationships, or letting go of several sentiments.
2. Refuel and rest
Imagine a Ferrari racing car on the F1 circuit for 90 minutes straight without the pit stop for refuel and engine check. It won’t be able to progress smoothly, let alone win the race! Likewise, you need to rest and be recharged before you go for your next laps.
When the going gets tough, allow yourself to pause and relax by getting involved in a recreation activity or just have naps in between to be reenergized. Just as a creator gathers information and inspiration before execution, remember that you need to receive inputs before releasing outputs optimally.
Unwind by reading a book, watching a funny show, or eating your favourite dessert. To further boost your sleeping quality, establish a relaxing pre-sleeping routine such as writing a gratitude journal or lighting a scented candle near your bed so that your body and mind can relax completely.
3. Reconnect with family and friends
Remember that there are people who care for you and you don’t have to go through this on your own. Do not feel that you are being a nuisance for reaching out to your support system. Contact and talk to your besties and family members and cry it out if you feel like doing so.
Heart-to-heart conversations can help you have different perspectives while talking about your issues. Most importantly, when you start opening up about how you truly feel, you are taking the first step to heal and comfort. You are no longer alone, and there is someone who is there to be your listening ear.
4. Reach out for help (professional/ medical when needed)
One of the wake-ups calls for me during an emotionally draining season was when I suddenly experienced burning sensations from the chest which then spread to the whole body throughout the night.
I immediately went to see a doctor. Turns out, what I had was heartburn as a result of acid reflux due to stress. I am glad that I consulted a doctor to improve my health and wellbeing before it became too serious.
Also, if your situation requires you to delegate your task or ask someone else for assistance (for instance, request for a helper at home when a family member is ill), go for it! It is certainly not a sign of weakness to seek help for your overall well-being.
It is important to note that the accumulation of piled-up unresolved emotions and issues can be a form of self-neglect in the long run. Having said that, remember that the state of being emotionally drained is not a final verdict, but it is a reminder that you need to start caring for yourself. You can get through this.
For further reading on how to overcome feeling burnout or drained, check out these articles on How To Deal With Burnout When There Is No Time To Catch A Break and 5 Practical Ways To Deal With Work Burnout Amidst Working From Home.