You get home from school or after a long day at work and just can’t find a way to relax despite feeling absolutely exhausted physically and emotionally. You shuffle around, reliving the events of the day plus that story you heard from your best friend yesterday about her parents divorcing. You remember that you have to go visit your cousin, who always complains about everyone and everything for hours. You also remember that you were trying to give up soda but had a tiny sip at lunch and now feel super guilty.
You’re over-stressed, feeling absolutely shut down and just can’t do this anymore. You’re right. You can’t and most importantly, you shouldn’t.
Many faces of emotional exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion can take many faces, everything from feeling fatigued to having anger spouts, not feeling excitement about anything, not being able to sleep and can ramp up to complete physical and emotional burnout; it can be extremely dangerous and lead to physical issues if not controlled.
Keep in mind that we are not only physical beings, our minds work even while we sleep and our emotions are stored in that same brain. Feeling taken advantage of, made less, taken for granted or not loving ourselves can take a toll on our emotional health, which in turn amps up the stress of normal day to day life which is already stressful enough.
Bringing back the balance
To keep our emotional self healthy, light and shining, we need to manage certain coping mechanisms to help us maintain our balance.
As it happens commonly with people, we all find ways to manage our emotional state from becoming exhausted but there are certain practices that we can mix and match to accomplish this:
1. Declutter your mind
As humans, we carry around a vast array of thoughts throughout the day, week, month, year and so on. But carrying around that much, all the time can make it seem like there is a hoarder inside your head and it’s time to declutter!
We have a ton of options for this one, mindfulness being the most commonly recommended one but therapy, journaling and meditating are all fabulous ways to rid your head of unnecessary clutter.
2. Move it!
Another tried and true way of helping emotional health is exercise. No, please! Don’t stop reading now, I promise this doesn’t necessarily involve a gym! Ok, you’re still here? Good.
Like I was saying, exercise has always and forever been recommended to help with certain aspects of mental health; by raising our heart rate and moving our muscles we harvest a ton of awesome endorphins and brain chemicals that make us more prone to handling stress in a healthy way.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to join a gym right away. There are so many fun ways to move your body. A few of them are as follows:
- Go for a brisk walk, jog or a run.
- Go biking.
- Play your favorite hype up song and dance wildly around your room.
- Play tug-o-war with your dog.
- Clean your room.
- Clean your garden – pull out the weeds and remove dried leaves.
- Pillow fight your younger sibling.
- Do hula hoops.
- Jump around in the same place.
- Jump in a trampoline.
- Go for a swim.
- Do some qigong shaking.
- Do some simple yoga stretches.
All of these serve the same purpose; the point is to keep the moving going.
3. Don’t let it snowball
Whenever the feelings of being overwhelmed hit us, we tend to catastrophize the situations that have us stressed even more.
We overthink situations until we’re even more exhausted than when we started freaking out. Developing the habit of catching ourselves when we fall victims of this behavior is key to coping with stressful events in our daily life.
If we manage to check ourselves before wasting any more emotional energy on something that hasn’t even happened, we’ll be free to use that time and energy into something that makes us truly happy. Which takes me to our next point.
4. Do at least three “happies” a day
At the very least do three things that make you happy in a day.
These don’t have to be knitting a whole scarf in an evening or running marathons daily, but simply taking a few seconds to smell that flower that you found growing outside your apartment complex or watch a 3 minute compilation video of red panda cubs.
If you want to mix it up with point 2, maybe go to that salsa lesson you really wanted to check out or use that coupon you got for a free spin class and turn it into a day out with your friends.
5. Grazie! Thank you! Gracias!
Be thankful 5 times a day, you can even make a ritual of it before bed or perhaps you’d like to spread them out throughout the day as a way to restore your balance but the point is to find five things that you are grateful for.
Pick the first one and picture it as clear as you can, then smile. Feel it in your body, how awesome it is to be able to to be grateful for something or someone in your life.
Focus on that happiness, that feeling of peace that comes with being grateful and notice how with each one your smile becomes wider. And the more you smile the happier you feel, this is scientifically proven!
You’re triggering a reaction of gratefulness and happiness in you brain which helps you relax and feel more positive and as such, stronger to face the challenges of our day to day.
6. Treat yo’ self!
If you’re finding yourself too drained and emotionally exhausted, please do yourself a favor and listen. Listen to your body, to you heart and your mind and give yourself a little self care.
You don’t have to be strong all the time or bottle it all up every single day, you and your emotional well-being are and should always be the number one priority. If you are still not convinced you need it or perhaps you feel guilty about taking care of yourself let me suggest this: See it as an investment.
An investment into being healthier, happier, doing way better at work and school, fighting less with your loved ones and having free time to just chill or go on adventures.
Remember: “Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” – Eleanor Brownn