Exhaustion: How to Recognize the Signs


Exhaustion: How to Recognize the Signs

By Lily Ha June 28, 2022 06.28.2022 Share:
Anxiety Depression Exhaustion Self-care Stress

Over the weekend, I saw the new movie Elvis in theaters.  I honestly did not know much about Elvis before I saw the movie, but I left the theater feeling sad about the end of his life.  Over his career, it was clear that Elvis was extremely overworked, developed an addiction to medical drugs, and was very lonely.  Chronic exhaustion and being overworked seemed to be major factors that impacted his health.  Eventually, Elvis died of a heart attack at 42 years old. The way I saw it, he was worked to death.

I do not think all of us are living and working at the pace Elvis was living and working in his lifetime, but the movie served as a great reminder to me of the importance of recognizing what is going on with us and our mental, emotional, and physical limits.  It is helpful to be able to recognize the early signs of exhaustion and develop healthy self-care strategies.

Now let’s take a little closer look… what is exhaustion?  Exhaustion, fatigue, and burnout are often used interchangeably; however, there are differences between them:

  • Exhaustion: a general term to describe an overall sense of tiredness
  • Fatigue: prolonged exhaustion
  • Burnout: exhaustion that comes from stress related to work, school, activities, etc.

Exhaustion can show up in our bodies – through our behaviors, mood, and emotions.  Our experience can include:

Physical Symptoms:

    • Constipation
    • Shortness of breath
    • Aches and pains
    • Waking up feeling tired
    • Skin changes (i.e., acne)

Emotional and Mental Symptoms:

    • Stress
    • Detachment
    • Anxiety
    • Brain fog
    • Apathy
    • Difficulty making decisions

Behavioral Symptoms:

    • Feeling overwhelmed
    • Procrastinating
    • Only having the energy to mindlessly surf the internet
    • Lack of energy to even do small tasks
    • Napping throughout the day
    • Increased hunger and food cravings

Additionally, exhaustion can also be a symptom of mental health issues like anxiety and depression as well as medical issues like infections and hormonal imbalances.  It is always good to see your doctor for your annual physical and bloodwork to make sure your vitamin and hormone levels are where they should be.

Whether you’re experiencing burnout, fatigue, or exhaustion, there are some self-care strategies we can practice:

  • Taking a mental day for yourself
  • Getting more sleep
  • Building healthy sleep hygiene and routines
  • Adding movement to your day (i.e., dance)
  • Seeking professional therapy
  • Getting a massage
  • Implementing healthy boundaries

If you are experiencing any symptoms of exhaustion and have tried to address them on your own but are not feeling better, please give me a call and I would love to support you in your journey!


To schedule an appointment with Lily, click here.

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