When we think of exhaustion, we normally think about how tired our bodies are at the end of the day or after a hard workout. But did you know that your mind can be exhausted too? The brain is a muscle, and just like every other muscle out there, it can get tired, especially when it’s overworked. Mental exhaustion is a consequence of a brain in overdrive all the time. So how will you know when you have reached this part? Here are 10 signs that you’re mentally exhausted that you need to look out for!
Insomnia is defined as the inability to sleep. It sounds counter-intuitive that you could be so exhausted that you couldn’t sleep. However, they both go hand in hand. When your mind is overwhelmed, it can be hard to organize it enough to get some sleep. This overwhelming overload of thoughts is a sign of mental exhaustion because your brain is too tired to pack up your thoughts for the night. This leads to an entire night of restlessness, leading to another day of feeling exhausted, regardless of how many hours you spent in the bed.
2.You Cry for No Reason
Crying is a natural human phenomenon. Due to hormones, women are more prone to crying then men, but there are a variety of reasons for crying. Two of these reasons are most relevant to mental exhaustion: stress and emotions. It is harder to check your emotions when you are beyond stressed out. Therefore, the easiest response to being overwhelmed with emotions and stress, is to cry. Lack of a mental break means your brain is too tired to organize your thoughts and reduce the stress you feel. So, your body is using these tears to expel a stress hormone called cortisol. If this happens to you a lot, then you have an overwhelming amount of stress that is contributing to your mental exhaustion.
3.You're Easily Irritated
When you are mentally exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed out, the smallest thing can set you off. Whatever the trigger is, sets off this irritable mood because it seems like ANOTHER thing added to your overwhelming life. This can diminish your patients and joy in certain activities or with people, increasing how irritable you feel. It’s hard to register new information, requests, inconveniences, etc. when your mind is on overdrive.
4.You're Constantly Tired
This ties back with experiencing insomnia. When you are feeling mentally exhausted, it is very hard to slow your mind down enough to sleep through the night or even take a cat nap. Therefore, you always feel tired because you are! Without enough sleep, your brain can’t fully recover to start the next day. It’s like working out your bicep and then waiting five hours before you go hard in the gym again. That’s a sure way to lead to injury and muscle fatigue. Same with your brain. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but if you’re too mentally exhausted to compartmentalize your thoughts, then you are going to be well below that number and suffer the consequences.
5.You Lack Motivation
Mental exhaustion is a nasty beast because it takes away the joy you feel doing certain activities. They go from being hobbies, jobs, or people that you enjoy, to being burdens. When you are tired and your mind is scrambled, adding anything else to that list can seem daunting. Also, a huge part of motivation is delayed gratification. Mental exhaustion makes it hard to think about the next hour, so thinking about goals that may not be completed for days, weeks, or years down the line can seem like too much. This may cause you to lose motivation towards it because it is so overwhelming.
6.You're Never on Time
Sometimes people are just late because that’s who they are. If you were always the punctual person, and now you find yourself struggling to get through the doors on time, that may be because of your mental exhaustion. It gets hard to know which way is up, down, and which day it is when your brain is so tired. It’s hard to manage time and accurately plan it out so you can make it places on time. You try to squeeze too much into short periods of time, and when they overflow into the time slots for other activities, it throws your whole day out of whack. You’re stressed about trying to complete something, which makes you late, which adds to your stress and contributes to your mental exhaustion.
7.You Experience Anxiety Attacks
Anxiety attacks happen when you suddenly feel very overwhelmed by worry and fear about the future. When your mind is scrambled, and it seems like you have a bunch to do in a small amount of time, anxiety attacks may become more common. Mental exhaustion makes it hard to organize your thoughts and to-dos, so it seems like everything is all over the place and due at the same time. This cycle of thought will only get you a one-way ticket to anxiety attack city, especially the longer you let your stress and exhaustion go unchecked.
8.You Feel Dizzy and Lethargic
Dizziness and lethargy are not direct consequences of mental exhaustion, but the sleep deprivation that you are experiencing because of how tired you are mentally. Sleep deprivation can lead to feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness and it may be so hard to function with these symptoms, that you feel extremely lethargic. When your brain doesn’t have the opportunity to reset, then the parts responsible for your balance and coordination, as well as many other faculties, can start to suffer.
9.You're Suffering from Indigestion and Stomach Issues
Stress effects more than just the mind, but also the body. Stress activates the fight or flight response in the body which is great for short term moments when you need to escape danger. However, when this system is in play every day just from being at work, then you are putting your body in this state that was only meant to be in for a short time. This state reallocates blood and energy resources away from your gut area, leading to indigestion and bloating. Hello Stomach Issues! Also, this stress causes more acid in the stomach which throws off the ratio of good to bad bacteria. These good bacteria are used for digestion so it’s vital to maintain this balance.
10.You Feel Detached
Hand in hand with losing motivation, mental exhaustion causes this feeling of detachment from everything and everybody. They feel like burdens and additional stressors. This is when you sit there and are just like “I can’t…I just can’t even”. If you find yourself doing this for all the activities you enjoy or all the people you used to spend a lot of time with, then mental exhaustion is jacking you up.