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7 signals of mental exhaustion

Do you feel completely exhausted? By which characteristics you can tell whether you are heading towards burnout and what really helps now.

What do you do if you catch a bad cold or a nasty gastrointestinal virus? Sure: you call in sick and cure yourself at home. But what do many women do when they are not feeling well mentally? When are you feeling exhausted or depressed? Correct: They dismiss these complaints as nothing, keep pulling themselves together and march to work.

“Completely wrong,” says the psychologist , “and dangerous too! Mental exhaustion has nothing to do with personal incapacity, but is an important warning sign that you are overwhelmed. It can mutate into burnout, which you can then do for a long time withdraws from circulation. ” We will clarify here which symptoms you can use to recognize burnout.

What is burnout?

There is no medically precise definition for the term “burnout”. It sums up symptoms of physical and mental exhaustion, triggered by prolonged excessive demands. The demarcation to a depression is vague, the boundaries are often fluid and without clearly delimited features. However, many psychologists speak of burnout as a preliminary stage of depression which, if left untreated, can develop into real depression. These are the warning signs of depression .

Persistent tiredness and depression should make you suspicious, especially if you’ve slept enough, especially if it’s accompanied by extreme listlessness and listlessness. Persistent insomnia or constant difficulty falling asleep can also be warning signs.

What is Rushing Woman Syndrome?

The American biochemist Dr. In addition to burnout, Libby Weaver coined the term “Rushing Women Syndrome”, which is intended to sum up the phenomenon more precisely, especially with regard to women: “The focus is on the perception of being constantly under pressure,” she writes in her book The Rushing Woman Syndrome .

“The main symptom is extreme, persistent fatigue. The women affected are not only deeply tired, but often turned up at the same time.”

When do I have to see a doctor with a burnout?

It’s best not to let it get that far and listen to yourself as early as possible. When the feeling of exhaustion begins to spread and the longing for relaxation and relief increases, you should act and make a doctor’s appointment. Yes, even in corona times!

As I said, there is no one clear sign. The boundaries between the various stress stages are fluid. However, there are some clear signs that burnout is imminent.

How do I know if I have burnout?

So that you don’t get caught in the exhaustion spiral in the first place, you should recognize these 7 strongest burnout signals and know how you can best counteract them:

1. You are exhausted, extremely tired, but cannot sleep

Intellectual work can cause physical exhaustion. Especially when you work a lot and your to-do list never gets shorter. Stress leads to the fact that the sympathetic nervous system dominates in your nervous system, which has triggered all “fight or flight” reactions since ancient times. For this, the hormones adrenaline and cortisol are released in the body, which put your body on alert. Ideally, the sympathetic nervous system is in equilibrium with its opponent, the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for “rest and repair”.

“The autonomic nervous system is controlled by the subconscious and is not accessible to our thoughts,” explains Libby Weaver. So if you’ve been stressed all day, you’re so flooded with adrenaline that your body is in fight-and-flight mode late into the evening. Even if you tell yourself that you want to sleep now – your ready-to-run body cannot.

In order to avoid insomnia, you should stop drinking coffee after 2 p.m. and not do strenuous, but only light sport in the evening. According to expert Weaver, gentle exercise such as a walk or yoga reduces adrenaline. Intensive sport, on the other hand, is ultimately stress for the body and stimulates the production of adrenaline again.

2. You are more anxious than usual

You are not really the anxious type, but lately symptoms such as palpitations and even panic attacks have been increasing? Watch out, you’re on the highway to burnout. And it is high time to incorporate relaxing measures such as massages, yoga and meditation into your everyday life.

SOS help with panic attacks is a few deep, conscious breaths. “Nothing can give the body cells more security than breathing,” says Weaver, “With short, shallow breaths we signal the body that our life is in danger. Deep, slow breaths that involve the diaphragm tell the body the opposite that everything is absolutely safe right now. ” 

3. You cannot concentrate

When your attention jumps from thought to thought like a squirrel, you will inevitably make mistakes or forget important things – which will further increase your stress levels.

Take a whole day off. Disengage yourself completely from your everyday life for 24 hours. Not to do things that haven’t been done. But to concentrate entirely on yourself. The right time to meditate, take a long walk and just take care of yourself!

4. You are dejected

Are you depressed by the pandemic, events in the office or at home? Your mood is worse than usual with mood swings and does it last longer? Then you could be heading for depression in the clinical sense.

A psychologist can best clarify whether your depression is a side effect of burnout or heralding depression. Don’t wait too long, seek help. Psychologists are best at deciding whether you need psychotherapy or psychotropic drugs, or whether a few days off is enough to get a more positive outlook on life again.

5. You get angry easily

Almost every woman has an outburst of anger or lets herself overreact under pressure. However, if your everyday tone is becoming increasingly aggressive, it is high time to pull the emergency brake. Remember: those who are mentally tense also tense physically. Without finding an outlet for it, the emotions build up – and it is not uncommon for them to discharge into verbal aggression.

Tip: get a massage. Because massages can help to loosen both muscular and psychological tensions. A hot bath also relaxes the muscles. It would be completely wrong to do a strenuous workout that puts your body under stress again. “You now benefit from all types of movement that are performed slowly and in which you pay attention to your breath,” says Weaver. “Such exercises help you get closer to the balance in the autonomic nervous system.” Tai chi, qigong and yoga are ideal sports for women under stress.

6. You catch every infection

Constant colds and other physical ailments that just won’t go away are clear signs that your body is paying the price for a drained mind.

Pull the rip cord. Rethink your diet and ensure you get enough deep sleep to give the body food and time for repair processes. 

7. You drink a lot of coffee and become less and less concentrated

Do you think that one coffee after the other will give you more power in your hectic everyday life? The biochemist Weaver knows it is completely wrong: “After a few cups of coffee, even the most relaxed, perfectly grounded woman gets fidgety inside.” Instead of becoming more alert, coffee increases stress and promotes burnout. Weaver strongly advises stressed women to take a coffee break.

Weaver: “Coffee informs the pituitary gland that it should ask the adrenal gland to release adrenaline. Adrenaline is released, blood pressure and pulse skyrocket and the muscles tense to be ready to react.” All of this is stress for your body! Switch to green tea or herbal tea. You will see, if you do not constantly flood your body with adrenaline, you will gain energy and serenity.

How does a break help against burnout?

If the above symptoms sound familiar to you, you should urgently take a day off. This has nothing to do with “going blue”. “From vacation research we know that a short vacation is more beneficial for mental recovery than a long vacation,” says Ilona Bürgel. “

Get a good night’s sleep, go for a walk, do a guided meditation or cook something healthy for yourself. Take a quiet bird’s eye view of yourself to see what urgently needs to change in your life.

Your body gives you many warning signs of impending burnout. Take it seriously and take your time to take the right countermeasures. If a little break doesn’t help: Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor honestly about your condition.

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