Emotional exhaustion – or burnout – is the result of a stress overload following event(s) such as the breakup of a relationship, the death of a loved one, or an unsuccessful job search. It affects many people, especially women, making them susceptible to panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, depression and, in some cases, suicide. But emotional exhaustion can be prevented by dealing with the stress that causes it.
Everyone has a stress capacity. When you exceed your capacity, your system may function poorly or shut down completely. After you have been through a stressful time, watch for these warning signs: disturbed sleep; increased dependence on alcohol or drugs; low self-esteem; feelings of nervousness, irritability, frustration, anxiety, or depression; overwhelming fatigue. Physical symptoms include chronic headaches, diarrhea, nausea, heart palpitations, and excessive perspiration.
Lead a healthier life. Get enough sleep. Maintain a wholesome diet. Reduce your consumption of alcohol and caffeine, and exercise aerobically – fast walking, jogging, swimming, or bicycling twenty minutes every other day.
Take responsibility for yourself. When you blame others for your troubles, you rob yourself of power and give it to them.
Set limits. Don't place excessive demands on yourself, and don't let others do it either. Accepting unreasonable demands diminishes self-esteem and deepens exhaustion.
Be good to yourself. Do something that you enjoy, something that you would not ordinarily want to afford the time and/or money for. Feeling good and taking your mind off of your troubles can have great benefits.
Join a self-help group. Talking with people who are experiencing problems similar to yours is helpful. One of the worst parts of emotional exhaustion is that people isolate themselves. You may think you're the only person in the world who feels this way and that you're a failure. But you're not; you have a common problem, and you can do something about it. Get together regularly with your group. A bonus: This therapy is generally free.
Consult a mental-health professional. If you're depressed or if you're one of the many emotionally exhausted women who gives too much in a relationship and has trouble accepting anything in return, get professional help. If you find yourself balking at the expense, you need to recognize that this is just one more way in which you deny yourself.
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