Mental Exhaustion Might Be The Reason You're Tired All The Time. Here's How To Deal

Stress is a mental response that most of us feel from time to time. It could be caused by responsibilities at work, conflict in interpersonal relationships, or even just a regular bad day. But when that stress becomes so chronic that you're struggling to get out of bed every morning, you might be experiencing something a little more serious, like mental exhaustion. No amount of sleep makes you feel rested, and your mind feels so cluttered that you're unable to carry out even a simple task without great difficulty. 

Licensed therapist Jor-El Caraballo told Greatist that mental exhaustion happens when you hit a psychological wall. "Everyone has to deal with [stress] to some degree. But mental exhaustion is the culmination and the outcome of stress ... when it feels like you can't really function as a result of all those factors," he explained. 

If you're struggling to motivate yourself to engage in activities you used to love, if you feel anxious a lot of the time, if you're irritable and cynical about life, or dealing with a pervasive sense of apathy, and if you're always tired, you might be suffering from mental exhaustion. 

Mental and physical tiredness are actually interconnected

It might surprise you to learn that your mind and body are closely connected, and burnout in one of those entities can affect the other. If you find yourself in a very demanding job that requires a lot of prolonged cognitive activity without breaks, or if you're caring for someone who's ill and that's taking an emotional toll on you, it's easy to feel physically exhausted too. Our emotional health is also linked to our mental health, so someone who's mentally exhausted could experience feelings of depression, hopelessness, anger, pessimism, fear/worry, and an overall inability to regulate their emotions.  

Mental exhaustion can arise for a number of reasons. According to researcher and author of "The Healthy Mind Toolkit," Alice Boyes, even having to make a lot of decisions at work consistently can contribute toward mental fatigue (via Forbes). And so can procrastination and perfectionism. "Like any extreme trait, perfectionism can be a double-edged sword," Boyes shared. 

Being in a difficult relationship and living with a chronic illness or mental health condition can also cause some to become mentally fatigued. Caraballo cautioned (via Greatist) that noticing the signs and working on alleviating the stressors is important, if you are to live a healthy life. 

How to deal with mental exhaustion

Identifying potential triggers is the first and most important step, and this might take a bit of self-awareness and intentional thinking. If you find that your workplace environment is the cause, try speaking with your supervisors and delegating some of your duties. Prioritize creating an environment with a healthy balance of work and rest. If this isn't an option, you may even want to keep an eye out for other opportunities. Moreover, avoid taking on more than you can handle. Set boundaries for yourself and your superiors. According to Alice Boyes (via Forbes), taking breaks can help too. "You'll more easily see simple solutions to problems and won't get caught up in spending excessive time on unimportant things."

If a relationship is causing you mental fatigue, take a step back and evaluate it objectively. What are the things you can change? Is it just a phase, or have you been in this space for a long time now? It might be helpful to put your mental health first and even seek professional therapy. If a sickness — your own or a loved one's — is causing burnout, ask for outside help.

The key is to take the chronic stress factor and analyze it before deciding to either alleviate it completely or find healthier ways to manage it. There are also ways to care for your mental health if you can't afford therapy. Mindfulness and meditation can become useful self-care tools.