How to Recover from Mental and Emotional Exhaustion
These are no doubt trying times for most of us. The stresses of prolonged social distancing, pandemic fear of illness, grief over loss, and coping with economic damage are each enough to drag even the strongest, most positive of us, down.
But we don’t have to let this challenging time lead us to feeling completely out of control.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to gauge if you’re suffering from mental and emotional exhaustion…
Are you –
- not sleeping well?
- more irritable than usual?
- struggling to get through the day?
- feeling hopeless about post-pandemic recovery?
- feeling anxious or experiencing panic attacks?
- quick to anger?
- crying often?
- binge eating or drinking?
- feeling detached?
- suffering a never-ending sense of fatigue?
If you answered yes to one or maybe a few of those questions, you are likely experiencing emotional and mental exhaustion.
It’s understandable that your emotional energy is running on empty. So here are a few ways to help yourself feel a little better and send some of that draining, depleting exhaustion packing!
5 Things You Can Do to Help Restore Your Mental and Emotional Energy
1. Move it out.
You’re not going to want to hear this – but here it is: exercise. Physical movement can relieve mental stress.
“Regular aerobic exercise has a unique capacity to calm, counter depression and dissipate stress.” – Harvard Health
Dancing, running, taking an online exercise class, dusting off the treadmill, bicycling, yoga, finding a free online exercise challenge to participate in – all count toward helping to balance your emotions and mental well-being.
Personally, I think getting outside to walk works well too. If you’ve been getting stressed with a full house, go outside alone. If you’ve been feeling overly isolated, meetup with a friend and take a walk (staying a safe social distance of eight feet apart).
Fresh air, a change of scenery, a little sunshine, a different view combined with physical movement help shift your perspective and provide a much-needed break from your computer or just from looking at the insides of your home. Nature plus physical movement equals a natural, healthy, and fat-free cocktail for soothing mental and emotional exhaustion.
2. Write it out.
It can be therapeutic to write out how you’re feeling. Even if you show it to no one. The act of manually expressing how you are feeling emotionally through writing often releases that pent-up negative energy. It helps to get it all out.
Like a good cry or a primal scream, it can open the flood gates releasing stress and emotions. That release helps open up space for you to invite rebuilding. Getting it all out on paper clarifies your emotions, fears and frustrations and helps you to move through it and then release.
3. Breathe it out.
Breathwork and meditating might seem like something you don’t have the time or patience for right now, but just might be the ticket to feeling less wound up, sad, irritable, and anxious. Quieting the mind through breathing and meditation has been helping people feel calmer and more grounded for thousands of years.
“There’s no single more powerful or simpler daily practice to further your health and well-being than breath work.” – Andrew Weil, M.D.
And it doesn’t require any special equipment or training to give it a whirl.
Lock yourself in the bathroom, have a seat, maybe put in earbuds with some gentle music (no lyrics), set a timer on your phone for five minutes with Do Not Disturb on, close your eyes, and just breathe.
Focus on your breath for a few minutes. When your mind wanders to any particular thought, notice it, and reel your thoughts back in to your breath. Seems too simple to be helpful? Too woo, too new-agey? Quit judging and try it! With regular practice, it just might change your life!
4. Speak it out.
Let it rip. Tell someone (gently, please) how you’re feeling. Use a lifeline!
Text a good friend. Call your sister. Email your neighbor. Express your mental exhaustion and ask those you are close to (but not quarantining with!) how they are coping with the emotional stress.
Not only will telling someone else how you’re feeling immediately provide expressive relief, you might come away with it knowing you are not the only one who is emotionally exhausted. You might also come away from that conversation with a few fresh ideas on how others are finding relief and be more able to shift your own perspective.
5. Read it out.
Turning pages in a ten-minute reading break of uplifting stories, fiction or non-fiction, can help shift your mood, release anxiety, and refresh your mindset.
Unlike watching a funny movie (which btw, can also be a good distraction and mood-lifter) reading is something you can do even if you are in a room with others.
“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley
Maybe listening to the family chatter, video game noise, zoom work calls, tv news, your partner’s annoyingly loud gum-chomping are grating on your last nerve. Stick in a pair of ear buds or foamy ear plugs and read. Ten minutes of you time spent reading what you like can help diffuse a boatload of pent up anxiety and irritation.
Cheers to helping ourselves work it out. To finding simple, effective ways to help ourselves recover from mental and emotional exhaustion and replenish our emotional energy. – Marlene
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