Have you ever held a bucket of water in either hand and then held your arms out for as long as possible (or you know, carried four bags of groceries in each hand)? In the initial moment, you think it’s fine, but it doesn’t take long for you to realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. Your hands start to burn and your arms tire.
The harder you try to hold on tight the more uncomfortable it becomes and the more painful it gets. Eventually, it’s too much to hold on to and your muscles ache so much you have to let go.
That’s exactly what exhaustion does to you. While there are situations that bring temporary stresses that are tolerable, others introduce chronic stress. That exhaustion and chronic stress soon have the run of your body.
You have a constant dull thud in your head, you struggle to fall asleep, you can’t remember a time where you didn’t have indigestion, and those are just the issues you’re aware of. Meanwhile, exhaustion and stress are forcing your heart to work harder and applying serious pressure to your immune system.
You feel fatigued, constantly, and just getting through the day is a struggle. You feel anxious, depressed, irritable, and exhausted.
Physical Exhaustion Or Stress?
Physical exhaustion is a direct result of something you did. For example, your job is demanding or you exercise hard. It’s generally a choice that you made and with a bit of relaxation and food for fuel, you bounce back. It may take a couple days (like when you overdo it in the gym and your muscles ache), but you get there by looking after yourself.
However, exhaustion that comes from stress is entirely different. It’s a mental exhaustion that stems from worrying, difficulty in coping, and it tends to result from feelings and thoughts as well as overdoing it physically. Sadly, you may have been living with it for so long you can’t even see the consequences. It’s become your normal so you’ve accepted that this is just life.
There’s a distinct difference between exhaustion/fatigue and just feeling tired. Generally, at the end of each day you start to feel drowsy and tired, you recognize that your body requires sleep for rejuvenation.
However, exhaustion is a chronic lack of energy or motivation. It’s what happens to you when you have ignored your own needs for so long. When you push beyond your initial point of no return and expect your mind and body to perform to the highest standard.
You have been running on nervous energy, caffeine, and junk food for so long that it might be your new normal, but at some point, your body will fight back and that exhaustion can easily turn to burnout.
The typical signs include feeling tired, but also aching muscles, irritability, loss of appetite, headache, short term memory issues, moodiness, blurred vision or dizziness, a lack of focus, difficulty making decisions, a lack of motivation, and feeling useless.
When stress reaches exhaustion levels, you already feel isolated and alone. Your instinct is to hide in bed and never come out, and it has a severe impact on your job performance and your personal relationships.
The first step to recovery is identifying the source of the problem and resolving it. If your job is causing your stress then you may need to take a vacation, look for a new job, or review your responsibilities. If it’s a personal relationship then you should take steps to rectify the problems.
Practice meditation and yoga daily to relieve stress, and exercise to boost your health. Eat a healthy diet and get seven hours of sleep every night. If these changes aren’t enough to make a change in your life then it’s time to speak to your doctor.