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Mental exhaustion symptoms

Updated February 21, 2019

Mental exhaustion, also known as burnout, results from excess, long-term stress. Symptoms of burnout are subtle at first and become progressively worse with time. Mental exhaustion symptoms not only manifest in the mind, but also as physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms. Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent and recover from mental exhaustion.

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Physical Symptoms

Mental exhaustion symptoms profoundly affect the physical body, as the mind and body are deeply interconnected. Physical symptoms of mental exhaustion include feeling tired most of the time, becoming sick often, frequent headaches, back pain and muscle aches. Changes in appetite of sleep habits are also symptoms of mental exhaustion.

Emotional Symptoms

Mental exhaustion has many emotional symptoms. A sense of failure and self-doubt, feeling helpless, trapped and defeated are some of them. A sense of isolation, loss of motivation and an increasingly pessimistic view on life, as well as noticeably less satisfaction and sense of accomplishment are additional clues of burnout, according to HelpGuide.

Behavioural Symptoms

You can know if you have mental exhaustion from your behaviour patterns. Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself from your family and friends and procrastinating are all signs of burnout. Eating more or less then usual, or taking drugs or alcohol to cope are other symptoms, as is taking your frustrations out on others close to you. Going to work late and leaving early, or skipping work altogether all indicate burnout as well.


You can prevent yourself from becoming mentally exhausted in many ways. Start the day with some form of relaxation for at least 15 minutes: meditate, write in a journal, stretch or read something inspiring. Eating well, sleeping enough and exercising regularly also help you deal with the stresses of modern life. Learning how to say "no" is a great way to prevent burnout, as are taking a break from technology, doing creative activities, learning and practicing stress management techniques.


Sometimes it's too late to prevent burnout. If you've become mentally exhausted, it is important to first slow down. Give yourself enough time and space to rest, reflect and regain your energy. Often when you're burnt out, there is a tendency to protect what little energy you still have by isolating yourself from others. Getting support from family and friends is even more important during challenging times, as just sharing your experience with someone else can take away some of your pain. Burnout is ultimately a sign that something fundamental in your life is not working and can be an opportunity to discover what really makes you happy and to redefine your priorities accordingly.

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About the Author

Ripa Ajmera

Ripa Ajmera has been writing for six years. She has written for ABCNews.com, General Nutrition Center (GNC), TCW Finance, Alliance for a New Humanity, Washington Square News and more. She was a Catherine B. Reynolds Scholar from 2006-2008 and graduated from New York University Stern School of Business with an Honors degree in Marketing.

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