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Emotional burnout

By Mariam Hakim , Family Flavours - Oct 13,2019 - Last updated at Oct 13,2019

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

By Mariam Hakim

Relationships  and Couples Therapist 


Prolonged and accumulated exposure to stress from work, family and social obligations can lead to emotional exhaustion and burnout. Recognising the signs of emotional burnout is the first step towards taking better care of yourself.

We all go through stressful episodes and times in our life from which we mostly bounce back and easily manage to restore our emotional agility. But when stress and emotional drainage are continuous and catch us during a rough period in our life, without proper caretaking, it can have a huge negative impact on both our mental and physical health. Also, emotional exhaustion differs from one person to another — what causes stress for one person does not necessarily have the same effect on another.


Signs of emotional burnout


• Feeling emotionally drained 

• A foggy mind

• An increased desire to sleep

• Feeling down or depressed

• Tiredness

• Desire to spend time alone

• Experiencing physical pain such as headaches and muscle pain

• Increased sensitivity to the world around you

• Feeling overwhelmed and not having enough time for yourself

• Getting easily agitated

• Feeling like you have no power over your life

• Feeling stuck or trapped

Common triggers


• High pressure and demanding jobs

• Having a baby

• Raising children

• Looking after a sick family member

• Financial problems

• Going through a difficult divorce

• Death of a loved one

• Living with a chronic injury or illness

• Experiencing relationship betrayal

• A demanding and stressful social life


What can be done?


People around you may not understand your need to slow down and implement small daily life changes. Thus, it will be up to you to take care of you! Here are some tips to help you along the way:

• Learning to say “no”: Say “no” to some invitations, social obligations, people who ask for favours, for example, and try to reduce them to a place where they do not feel like a burden anymore and instead feel light and enjoyable. The ability to say “no” is highly linked to our self-confidence and self-esteem; people with low self-esteem find it difficult to say no as they tend to put other people’s needs before their own and fear the judgment and the disappointment of others. They think when they disappoint others that they will lose their love and acceptance. However, people who are genuine and really care for you will fully understand your needs and will help you implement them.

• Taking a break: Either take a vacation or simply slow down and spend some down time with yourself while doing something enjoyable, such as reading, watching a movie, gardening, pursuing a hobby or anything else that calms you and makes you feel grounded and connected with yourself.

• Exercising: Try to exercise daily for 30 minutes even if it is just going for a walk. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin — both contribute to a healthy emotional state. Exercise also helps take your mind off your problems.

• Engaging in mindfulness: Mindfulness is the ability to stay present in the moment instead of living in the past or worrying about the future. This helps reduce stress and anxiety while working towards achieving emotional balance and health. You can achieve mindfulness by engaging in one or more of the following:

1 Meditation or yoga

2  Breathing exercises

3 Journaling your tho ghts and feelings

4 Learning to stay in the present by being mindful of your surroundings and engaging your senses of sight, hearing, smell and touch

5 Spending time in nature


•Connecting with a trusted friend: Meet up with a genuine person with whom you share a good connection and who is willing to listen to you empathetically while refraining from automatically giving you advice and trying to quickly fix things. Feeling heard and validated can have a huge effect on alleviating some of the stress. 

• Seeing a professional: Therapists and life coaches can help you process your issues and give you the right tools and techniques to help you manage your stress or whatever issues you need to work on.


Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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