An individual may feel emotionally drained when they are overwhelmed by various demands they have to contend with in their daily life. When the demands on a person exceed their personal resources and their perceived ability to cope, it can result in feeling emotionally drained.1 Ways to recover from feeling emotionally drained include exercise, a healthy diet, and seeking professional help.
What Does It Mean to Feel Emotionally Drained?
Being emotionally drained or exhausted is not designated as an actual mental health diagnosis in the DSM-V, however, it is recognized as being caused by chronic stress that can be linked to the workplace or to other life domains in terms of stress in marital and other relationships, family life, finances, and health.2,3
If you are emotionally spent, there are several signs and symptoms that you may experience in your daily life, including: 2,3
- Feeling negative, hopeless, helpless about your situation and feeling unable to resolve your issues
- Mental exhaustion and low energy level, resulting in low engagement and low participation in work/life activities as well as physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, and reduced appetite
- Reduced work performance, including absenteeism and poorer results, and impaired functioning in other important areas of life and general feelings of inefficacy
- Low motivation and low concentration to tackle responsibilities and to-do lists
- Increased emotional reactivity – more irritability, frustration, anger, anxiety, and stress in dealing with challenges and also apathy since you might feel as though nothing will improve
17 Tips to Recover From Feeling Emotionally Drained
Recovering from emotional exhaustion is possible with a variety of recommendations that focus on improving your understanding of your difficulties, developing better coping abilities, exploring effective ways of engaging with others, employing stress management techniques, and modifying how you perceive your situation to help you achieve positive change.
Here are 17 tips to help you recover from feeling emotionally drained:1,3
1. Build Awareness Around Your Emotional Exhaustion
If your emotional energy is low, the first step towards change is building awareness of your symptoms before seeking help. In doing so, you will be more able to share your insights in therapy and feel more ready to make proactive change.
2. Reach Out to Your Social Network for Support
Your family and friends are your support system – draw on them when you need to for a fun distraction, a deep discussion, or to just spend quality time together. Give them a call, send them a message, or set up a date/time for you to connect.
3. Get Enough Sleep & Rest
If you find yourself so drained that you have difficulty functioning in all areas of life, this may be a sign that you need to build in more rest and relaxation. Try to get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night if you can. Take your permitted breaks at work. Try to end work at a designated time so you can decompress in your free time.
4. Get Sufficient Exercise & Nutrition
When you’re feeling emotionally drained, it is important to ensure you are keeping active and eating well to keep exhaustion at bay and maintain what little energy you do have.
5. Use Relaxation Techniques
Practice deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, yoga, journaling, and any other relaxation methods that help you feel calmer, especially if you notice your emotions are heightened due to stress and fatigue.
6. Focus on the Present
In connection with relaxation strategies, staying in the moment as much as possible will help you feel less overwhelmed by future anticipated stressors. In addition, by perceiving yourself as being less stressed, you may actually start to feel less stressed, thereby improving your mental well-being. Consider the perspective that your stress will pass with time and will not be a constant fixture in your life forever.
7. Practice Gratitude
You can shift your perspective from one of despair to one of hope when you consider the things that are going well in your life from a health, social, financial, family, and spiritual perspective and any other key areas in your life.
8. Focus on What You Can Control
When there are things outside of our control, we can feel powerless. By attending instead to what you can control, this may help remind you of what you can manage within your own resources, including your time and energy. This might help you feel a bit better about your situation.
9. Adopt a Neutral Perspective
Sometimes, we inflate the severity of a problem when we feel overwhelmed. By considering the problem from a more neutral standpoint, this may help you feel less stressed and more capable of addressing the issue effectively.
10. Remember Your Strengths
We tend to forget what we are capable of when we are suffering from sheer exhaustion. Take a moment to think about your skills, abilities, positive qualities, and strengths. You might be surprised by your ability to overcome obstacles.
11. Use Positive Self-Talk
In line with focusing on your strengths, think about how you have been able to cope up to this point, what has kept you going, and how you will be able to manage moving forward. This may help you redirect your attention toward overcoming your obstacles rather than feeling overcome by them.
12. Limit Substance Use
People may turn to substances to help them cope with how they feel, however, this will actually make them feel worse and less able to handle their issues. Limit substance use as much as possible to remain clear-minded and focused on addressing your concerns.
13. Delegate Tasks Where Possible & Ask for Help
Determine what responsibilities you can ask someone else to take care of to reduce your level of stress. Check in with the other person to see what they are comfortable taking on to help you. By getting the help you need, you may feel less drained.
14. Implement Assertiveness & Conflict Resolution Skills
Learn to set limits and boundaries with others who may be contributing towards you feeling drained. Learn to say “no” to whatever makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t feel right to you. Use effective conflict resolution by objectively focusing on the issue, avoiding criticism and defensiveness, taking responsibility where appropriate, and working collaboratively and openly towards solving the problem.
15. Build in More Time for Hobbies & Leisure Activities
It is important to prioritize activities that renew and rejuvenate you, as this will help reduce your feelings of being emotionally and physically drained and enable you to handle stressors more easily.
16. Talk to Your Doctor About Your Concerns
It’s important to let your doctor know about what you’re experiencing, especially if you may need to request time off from work to recover, as your doctor will need to fill out a medical form in support of your request.
17. Seek out Support From a Mental Health Professional
Accessing therapy to talk about your concerns and to learn how to build your coping skills is important for improving your symptoms and helping you get back to your life in the way you want to. Contacting a therapist when you first recognize signs of burnout can help you avoid mild or high functioning depression. It can be helpful to use an online therapist directory to search for a therapist who offers stress reduction therapy.
While it may feel impossible to recover from being emotionally drained, it is important to recognize that you have the tools and skills available to you to help you get back control over your life as you navigate the world around you. If you need reminders from time to time, feel free to glance at the list of coping tips in this article for a quick refresher.