What to Do When You are Feeling Emotionally Drained

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We all have days when we feel distressed and worn out. It’s hard to get out of bed or start any meaningful job on those days – you feel overwhelmed by everyday tasks like the smallest mental, emotional, or physical effort is sapping all your energy.

Luckily, this run-down feeling doesn’t last long most of the time.

However, if you feel like every day is a bad day, if you feel constantly exhausted, irritable, or depressed, this might be a sign that you are emotionally drained. Consult your physician and address your concerns to avoid long-term damage, as emotional drain can turn into burnout, affecting your health and well-being.

Many factors can trigger emotional exhaustion. However, the good news is that there are also a lot of strategies you can use when feeling emotionally drained to relieve the symptoms and feel better.

However, before we share a few tips, let’s see what it means to feel emotionally drained and how to differentiate this condition from simply having an off day.

What Does It Mean to Be Emotionally Drained?

The state of feeling emotionally drained or depleted is known as emotional exhaustion.

Emotional exhaustion typically results from accumulated stress from everyday life. When personal or work-related stress becomes overwhelming, it can cause a state of complete emotional collapse. As a result, you may experience extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away after sleep, a lack of energy, and sleep troubles.

There are plenty of reasons why you may be feeling emotionally drained. The cumulative stress of living, such as financial strain, work overload, unemployment, the demands of the “new normal,” and living through the COVID-19 pandemic can all contribute to feeling emotionally drained.

And if you struggle with chronic illness, relationship struggles, child care, or work-life imbalance, those, too, can add up.

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Signs that You are Emotionally Drained

When you are emotionally drained, you may experience a range of psychological, emotional, and physical symptoms, such as the following:

  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Sleep problems (sleeplessness or oversleeping)
  • Changes in appetite and weight (up or down)
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • A diminished sense of pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble focusing
  • Keeping yourself away from social interactions
  • Daydreaming to escape everyday life
  • Low productivity
  • Self-medicating
  • Turning to substances or addictive behaviors to cope

Learning to Recognize the Difference Between an Off Day and an Emotional Drain

Emotional exhaustion can happen when there is a lot of unexpected or high stress in your life. But it’s more than just feeling a little worn out.

If you are constantly feeling tired, anxious, apathetic, irritable, or sad, this feeling of being drained can cause emotional burnout.

Emotional burnout can affect physical health, emotional well-being, executive function (planning, organizing, problem-solving), and relationships.

When having a day off, you can bounce back naturally and find constructive ways to cope with stress. However, when you are emotionally drained, you lack the resilience to recover on your own, feeling stuck, with no energy or way out.

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What to Do When You’re Feeling Emotionally Drained

The first step to overcoming emotional exhaustion is recognizing that you are emotionally drained. There are various strategies you can use daily to manage emotional exhaustion. Here are some of them.

RELATED: What is an Emotional Detox, and When Should I Do One?

Change Up Your Routine

Sometimes our daily routine contributes to emotional exhaustion without us noticing it. 

Changing your routine can help alleviate stress and make you feel more relaxed.

So, create a morning routine to boost energy and put you in a good mood. Start your mornings with a short gratitude exercise, a cup of aromatic tea, or a short walk.

Change your afternoon routine and practice mindfulness meditation during your lunch break. You can do this at the nearby park, at your desk at the office, or while walking to pick up the coffee.

In the evenings, create a routine that helps you relax before bed, such as journaling, taking a bath, or reading a good book.

Spend weekends in nature and make physical activity your daily habit.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

Setting boundaries is an essential part of self-care. Learning to say no can improve your resilience, boost your self-esteem, and increase self-compassion.

So, learn to say ‘no’ to things that make you feel uncomfortable without the need to explain further or justify yourself. Instead of accepting responsibility for other people’s tasks, emotions, and needs, prioritize self-care and stand up for yourself assertively.

Eat Well and be Sure to Keep Moving

A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fibers, and omega-3 fatty acids is beneficial not only for physical health but also for emotional well-being. So, make sure to stick to a diet based on fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains. Avoid processed foods loaded with artificial additives and empty calories.

Stay active even if you feel physically drained. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day. Physical activity can improve your mood, relieve tension, and alleviate the symptoms of emotional exhaustion.

Sleep, Sleep, Sleep!

Getting enough sleep can have a significant impact on your brain. If you are emotionally drained, you may have difficulty falling asleep. Try creating a calming bedtime routine to relax your mind and body. Limit screen time and avoid using devices at least one hour before bed.

Establish a sleep routine that includes things such as a relaxing bath, a cup of herbal tea, relaxing music, or a book.

Suppose you do the same things every night before bedtime. In that case, your mind and body will associate those activities with restful, revitalizing sleep.

Do Nothing

Most of us feel guilty if we spend time simply doing nothing. However, taking a break from time to time can have a strong restorative effect on your brain. So, take time off from work and household chores. Take advantage of your vacation or sick days at work to recharge without feeling guilty.

Send off your children to ‘camp grandparents’ and create a me-time routine to do things you enjoy, such as getting a spa treatment, reading a book, or going for a swim. Or to do nothing.

Consult your doctor or get help from a mental health professional if you don’t think anything works and you can’t deal with your stress.

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Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood

Kamini Wood is a Certified Life Coach, and best-selling author. Her mission is to empower high-performing adults and teens to become resilient self-leaders by reducing stress and anxiety, overcoming imposter syndrome, working through trauma, and re-discovering their AuthenticMe®.

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My name is Kamini Wood, and I’m here to accompany you on your journey toward understanding yourself on a deeper level so can create the life you want personally and professionally. It’s time to embrace your AuthenticMe ™