When Mental Exhaustion Happens: How to Overcome It and Get Back to Normal Life



Mental exhaustion is not easily recognizable. You might feel like you constantly lack time, can’t cope with all the tasks and life issues that you face, and simply cannot figure out why you are mentally exhausted. Let’s figure out how to identify mental exhaustion and what we can do to overcome it.

What is mental exhaustion?

Mental exhaustion is a state that comes when you are overwhelmed with information and feel physically tired. Continuous stress, rapidly changing life circumstances, and long-term focus on complex issues are the most common causes of mental exhaustion.

You often feel like giving up, can’t sleep well, fall into unhealthy habits, and struggle to pull yourself together when experiencing mental exhaustion.

Stress versus mental exhaustion

Stress is something that passes with the sequence of time. When the reason for stress disappears you start restoring and gradually return to a normal state. Even your hormonal balance is restorable once you remove stressors.

However, mental exhaustion is a bit more complicated. It is a complex mix of symptoms that can’t pass as easily and quickly as stress. The biggest problem is that it is hard to identify what is making you feel so unwell, depressed, and constantly tired.

Let’s get down to specifying the symptoms and causes of mental exhaustion and ways to deal with it.

Symptoms of mental exhaustion

Mental exhaustion doesn’t only develop in stressful situations. You can experience it daily while doing routine things. Sometimes these routine tasks are the reason for this mental exhaustion.

These could be:

  • Working in a high-stress environment

  • Being uncertain about your life

  • Having family issues

  • Taking care of a small baby or many children

  • Inability to find a work-life balance

  • Losing someone you love

  • Having too many commitments

  • The necessity to control too many things in your life

Despite the name of this state, mental exhaustion signs can be classified not only into mental, but also physical ones. Let’s describe them in more detail.

Mental signs

When you are mentally exhausted you feel that it is much harder to process information. Every new task is a disaster and you just want to give up. The inability to focus and think clearly, finding it hard to care for anything the way you should, problems with remembering things and the inability to get work done are mental signs of exhaustion.

They are often accompanied by depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, irritation, anger, or hopelessness.

Physical signs

As with any health issue, mental exhaustion can be followed by a range of physical problems, the most common of which are:

  • Headaches and tension in muscles

  • Digestive problems

  • Bad appetite

  • Feeling cold for no reason

  • Irregular heart rate

  • High blood pressure

  • Shortness of breath

If you notice that something is going on with your physical health against the background of emotional burnout you are likely mentally exhausted. In this case, you need to take some steps to restore your wellbeing. We will talk about them further below.

How to overcome mental exhaustion

Once you’ve identified that constant tiredness and persistent anxiety are the consequences of mental exhaustion, you can start taking small steps to overcome them.

It is important to understand that there is no single solution on how to recover from mental exhaustion – you should make a number of changes in your daily life to help yourself recharge and get your mind and body back on track.

These things are relatively easy to do and with persistence you are bound to succeed and feel a difference.

Keep a work-life balance

Even if you are not mentally exhausted, you might still experience some problems with concentration. Lack of focus and concentration often happens because of an unbalanced lifestyle. Too much work makes us stressed and high strung. On the other hand, procrastination makes us feel lethargic and apathetic.

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Remove the stressor

Feeling stressed from time to time is normal because this is the way we react to some changes in our life or obstacles we face. But if you are constantly triggered by many things and you can’t do anything to distract yourself and relax, it is crucial to remove the stressor, especially if you are mentally and emotionally exhausted.

The best way to get rid of the things that make you stressed is to ask for assistance. If you can’t cope with everything yourself, you either need to eliminate the stress factor or ask someone to help you deal with it.

Take regular breaks

In one of our posts, we have already mentioned that it is a good idea to take regular breaks from what you are doing. Although, we didn’t mean just a 10-minute time out during an 8-hour working day. What we suggested was taking a break whenever you feel tired. It can be hard if you are a workaholic, but it is vital to make sure you take time for yourself throughout the day.

You can try doing any of the following: take regular 15-minute breaks every hour, have lunch out of the office, take 2 days off during the week to restore and get back to work with renewed vigor. The latter option would mean not doing any work on weekends even if this is the norm for you. It is better to set your work stuff aside in the evening and dedicate time to your family and friends.

Try to get more sleep

Sleep is not just an important aspect in our life. It is an essential part of our wellbeing. If we don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, we simply can’t work effectively or enjoy our lives.

Good sleep is the key to both good physical and mental health. Try sleeping for 7-9 hours at night, going to bed, and waking up at a fixed time. You need to establish a routine and stick to it.

A good way to normalize your sleep and avoid mental exhaustion is to make the time before bed more about self-care. Take a warm shower or lay in a bubble bath, read a book, odorize your room with some essential oils that help you relax, and put on your most comfortable pajamas.

It is also recommended to put away gadgets at least an hour before bedtime because their blue light decreases the level of melatonin — the sleep hormone.

Relaxation techniques

Sometimes it is difficult to just take things easy but you must do your best to distract yourself from everything that makes you anxious, even if only for a few minutes.

Try practicing yoga and meditation to let your mind rest and make your body release its tension. If you don’t want to go anywhere to exercise, just google some yoga or meditation lessons and practice them at home. If you are not a homebody, but still don’t want to socialize — grab a karemat and go to a nearby park.


Spend more time outside

Going for a walk is always a good idea, especially when feeling mentally exhausted. Try to spend more time outside, have a picnic instead of lunch in a cafe, enjoy nature, watch what is going on around you and try not to think about any of the issues that are bothering you during that time.

Nature can give us strength and inspiration, help us relax and look at things from a new angle. You can meet with your friends somewhere outside and talk about everything but work, although sometimes it is even better to be alone in silence and let your mind rest.

Reduce screen time

When you browse news, scroll through your social network feed and constantly check your inbox you can get overwhelmed with the incoming information. This might produce a variety of emotions and more stress. In other words, you can’t stay calm and relaxed.

So we recommend you reduce screen time as much as you can, especially if you spend the whole working day in front of a computer or laptop screen. It is crucial to avoid tons of information when you are mentally exhausted, so try to spend less time using gadgets and let yourself have a digital detox.

Focus on what you can control

The reality is this – you can’t control everything in your life. When you are trying to get things in order and do all you can perfectly, you’ll get worn out very quickly. So, the best solution is to focus on the aspects of your life that you really can control.

For example, you can’t control what other people think and do but you can definitely control your physical and mental state. Start with yourself — do your best to improve your wellbeing.


Mental exhaustion might become a serious problem that diminishes the quality of your life. It is important to notice its symptoms early and try to prevent them.

However, we live in such a hectic world that being mentally exhausted happens more often than not, so it is better to use the tips we’ve shared sooner rather than later.

Never ignore the signs your mind and body send. Even though you might think that mental exhaustion is related only to cognitive and emotional problems, you should still monitor your physical state as well, because this is a common way your body signals about the problem.

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