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Did You Know Mental Exhaustion and Physical Exhaustion Are Different?

We often can feel tired and overwhelmed when we have done too much or even sometimes when we have not done much at all and yet still be left feeling exhausted. Many different things can lead to us feeling physically and mentally exhausted. Mental exhaustion is when we have put too much stress upon our brain and become very drained and lack enthusiasm for things we would normally enjoy. Physical exhaustion is when our bodies have been overworked and may begin to feel tired and sore.

In our previous blog about the mental impact, food has upon us, we cover how a poor diet can affect us mentally and drain our energy. (How Can Food Affect us Mentally)

However, there are ways to manage your health if you suffer from mental and/or emotional exhaustion. This blog is going to cover; What is mental and emotional exhaustion, the recovery process of mental exhaustion as well as physical vs mental exhaustion.

Then later moving on to looking at; What to do if you are always mentally exhausted, the causes of mental exhaustion and how to reduce mental exhaustion.

What is Mental and Emotional Exhaustion?

Mental and emotional exhaustion will leave you feeling constantly tired and burnt out. After long periods of physical activity, where our body can begin to feel tired and sometimes even immense strain upon our bodies where we feel it physically such as muscle pain, the comparison is just the same for our brains when we overwork ourselves mentally without proper breaks and time off.

A long period of mental stress will put a large amount of strain on our minds and emotions. Leaving us feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted.

What is ‘Burnout’?

Burnout is a term referring to a state of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can happen when you have experienced long term stress either in your work life or at home.

Common signs of feeling burnout would be feeling; tired or drained most of the time, helpless or trapped, detached or alone, self-doubt or constantly feeling overwhelmed.

It is not uncommon to feel psychical fatigue from time to time and the same with mental fatigue. Everyone will most likely experience mental exhaustion at least once in their lifetime.


Mental Exhaustion Recovery

Unfortunately, for many people having to recover from mental exhaustion, it will only be necessary once they have reached that stage where it is essential. This is why it is so important that we all understand the signs in ourselves and our employees to help ensure it does not get to this stage. Having good mental health strategies and processes in place can help reduce the possibility of having mental exhaustion, in particular ensuring you have adequate time off to fully rest and time in your daily work life to ensure activities that rest your brain and that you get enjoyment from are scheduled in.

Especially since Covid and so many having to take on additional duties, facing the unknown and with the rising stress that came with it, far too many are suffering from mental burnout.

It is essential that recovery is started as soon as possible to ensure the best outcome. This can take anywhere from 11weeks to a year to recover.

Tips on how to recover from mental exhaustion:

  • Identify what it is that is creating this stress

  • Build a support network

  • Get enough exercise

  • Speak to your manager

  • Learn stress management techniques

  • Take time to yourself doing something that you find peaceful

  • Writing down how you are feeling and recent events

  • Good self-care, whether or not that be a relaxing bath or seeing friends

  • We often find that when we take care of ourselves we feel better about ourselves

  • Our keeping positive blog has some great self-care tips (Keeping Positive)

And the biggest one – be aware that mental exhaustion can happen to anyone and do not keep pushing on when you know you are struggling. It will only just catch up with you and will be more intense and will take longer to recover from.

Just because mental illnesses are not visible, do not ignore them as recovering from mental exhaustion is just as important as allowing your body to recover from a broken arm.


We should always treat our mental health as just as important as our physical. As with anything if it becomes too much you should not suffer alone and reach out to a doctor Even though it is not a visible condition, mental exhaustion is still as serious as any physical condition.

Being mentally exhausted is nothing to feel ashamed about as everyone experiences it at least once in their lifetime. The best thing we can do is be aware and try and tackle it as early on as we can.


Physical vs Mental Exhaustion

Physical and mental exhaustion are not the same and affect our bodies in completely different ways. As well as the causes that lead us to physical exhaustion will be completely different to the cause leading us to mental exhaustion. Both psychical and mental exhaustion often work hand in hand, meaning one can often lead to the other. However, what causes each one may differ.

Physical Exhaustion

An individual who is physically exhausted may still be mentally alert just physically tired. However, physical exhaustion can still lead to mental exhaustion. For example, an athlete who has a strict training schedule may begin to feel physically exhausted if there is too much stress on his body. This leads to him then feeling mentally exhausted with the pressure of keeping their routine.

People who are feeling physically fatigued may want to have a look at how they can reduce the stress presented upon their bodies.

Mental Exhaustion

Some examples that can lead to mental exhaustion:

  • Working too much without adequate breaks

  • Caring for their own family and having to care for other extended family members

  • Divorce

  • Financial stress

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Personality disorders

  • Relationship problems

People who are struggling mentally should always try to see how they can take some mental stress off themselves.

Why am I always Mentally Exhausted?

Mental fatigue is a state of tiredness that sets in when your brain's energy levels are depleted. Mentally exhaustion can be caused by many different things for example you may not be taking enough time to yourself.

We can often be our own worst enemy putting too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect at all times and get everything right.

Sleep is also a vital point for feeling well mentally rested. However when we already feel mentally exhausted sleep becomes extremely difficult. In our free eBook, we have many tips on how to get a good night's sleep. If you would like to receive our free eBook and receive the many tips that we suggest to prevent mental exhaustion you can receive it here. Subscribe here.

Causes of Mental Exhaustion