10 Symptoms of Emotional Fatigue and How to Cope

Your spouse asks you where you want to go for dinner, and you snap, “I don’t care. Why can’t you decide for once?” Although you apologize, you feel terrible. Why are you so short? 

You could be suffering from emotional fatigue. Think of your psyche like a muscle. Just like any other, it starts performing poorly when tired. Here are 10 symptoms to look for and how you can cope. 

1. Frequent Crying 

Does the thought of running the vacuum cause you to burst into tears? Consider this an emotional fatigue symptom, although it can also arise from PMS or hormonal changes during puberty and menopause. 

If you cry at the drop of a hat, you might want to let those tears fall. One 2014 study found it can have a self-soothing effect that your body may crave. Human tears contain multiple stress hormones, and shedding them could bring relief. 

2. Irritability 

You love your kids, but it takes every ounce of reserve you have not to go ballistic when they approach with innocent questions. Chances are, you’re expressing a symptom of emotional fatigue. 

Unfortunately, inappropriate outbursts can injure personal and work relationships. If you must, excuse yourself from the situation until you have your emotions under control. Most people will understand if you say, “I’m really on edge right now. Can I have a moment, please?” 

3. Making Careless Mistakes

Even if you feel physically rested, you could find yourself making careless mistakes due to emotional overload. Everything is made up of energy — including your feelings. A shock like a loss can drain you like running a marathon. 

Pay heed if your supervisor starts pointing out errors in your work. While you may need to get more sleep, if you’re facing a traumatic life event, emotional overload could hinder your concentration. 

4. Mysterious Aches and Pains 

Your mind and body are intricately linked. If you ever found your jaw or shoulders aching after a rough day at the office, stress might have caused you to clench those muscles unconsciously. 

Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. While ongoing aches deserve a doctor’s visit to rule out other causes, they can also result from emotional fatigue. If techniques like meditation and yoga help, consider the latter. 

5. Changes in Eating Patterns or Weight 

Some people resort to emotional eating when they feel overwhelmed, and if you’re one of them, you might notice your pants getting snug. If you see excess pounds creeping on, try eating more mindfully and avoiding grazing while engaged in other tasks. 

Conversely, you may lose your appetite. The average adult needs a minimum of 1,200 calories daily to maintain healthy functioning, and intake increases with exercise. Turn to supplements like nutritional shakes if you can’t stomach solid food. 

6. Ongoing Fatigue 

You made yourself lie in bed for the required eight hours. Why do you still feel like a semi ran you over?

The answer could be that your tiredness is a symptom of emotional fatigue. Can you take off on a sunny Friday for a long weekend if work has you frazzled? If your bills say, “No way, Jose,” can you sneak in a mental health hour?

7. Trouble Getting Enough Sleep 

Even though you might feel exhausted, sleep could prove elusive. Racing thoughts can keep you counting sheep until the wee hours. 

Make your bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible. Ban electronics, especially your phone — scrolling social media in bed is a sure ticket to the insomnia train. Shut out lights and sound as much as possible and reserve the room only for slumber and sex. 

8. Inability to Concentrate

Think of your brain as a muscle. If you did biceps curls for an hour straight, your arms would declare mutiny. 

If you spend countless hours ruminating over a lost love or a pending eviction, it’s understandable that you’ll run out of steam. Even if you’re ordinarily creative, even straightforward answers to problems can elude you. Reach out to your support network and ask them to help you brainstorm a manageable plan.  

9. A Constant Feeling of Overwhelm

Overwhelm occurs when you can’t handle what’s on your plate. Don’t beat yourself up further with thoughts of,  “What would so-and-so do?” You aren’t them, and you can only work with the tools at your disposal. 

Try to take a step back. If money woes cause your emotional fatigue symptoms, going on vacation might increase your anxiety. However, see if your partner can take on some of your responsibilities or whether you can delegate more efficiently at work. 

10. Suicidal Thoughts 

Suicide rates were on the rise before COVID-19, and now, experts believe American society faces a perfect storm for creating more deaths. Millions today are under severe economic stress, including job loss and homelessness. They also face sometimes insurmountable barriers to health care as the disease continues raging. Help from Washington may never arrive, and for some, it is already too late.

If you find yourself thinking that you would be better off dead, please reach out for help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. If speech problems make phone calls problematic, you can text 741-741 for support. 

Fight the Symptoms of Emotional Fatigue With Self-Care 

Anyone can experience symptoms of emotional fatigue, and they can significantly impact your life. By practicing self-care, you can ease your overwhelm and chart an appropriate forward course.