5 Major Signs That You’re Exhausted and What To Do About It

5 Major Signs That You’re Exhausted and What To Do About It

“I’m exhausted” is a little overused. What people usually mean is “I’m tired.” Maybe “tired” doesn’t exciting enough? Exhaustion, on the other hand, is a pretty serious condition. It’s perfectly natural and normal to be tired sometimes, but if you’re actually exhausted, you probably need medical attention. The question is, how do you know if you’re just tired and need a bit more rest, or if you’re actually exhausted and need to take things more seriously.

What is exhaustion?

Exhaustion is a lot more than feeling groggy or lacking energy because you didn’t get enough sleep last night. It’s a chronic condition where you feel like you never have energy, even if you do get enough sleep. You’re always depleted, which makes thinking, working, seeing friends and getting exercise impossible. It stops you from functioning normally and doing things that bring you joy and happiness. 

It gets a lot worse. The lack of energy and motivation brought on by exhaustion leads to a lack of participation in life that can cause a lot of mental and physical problems. Not seeing friends and family enough, and not enjoying the time you spend with them, can quickly lead to depression. Not getting enough exercise can lead to weight gain, muscle degeneration and heart disease. The chronic stress of always being exhausted can suppress your immune system and lead to sickness and infections.

If you think you might be exhausted, you need to do something about it before it damages your health long-term. The first step is to identify whether you’re exhausted or not.

Here are 5 signs that you might be exhausted:

1. Constant Fatigue

Ongoing daily fatigue is a big sign that you’re exhausted

This is not the kind of temporary tiredness you feel when you didn’t get enough sleep. You’ll be fresh as a daisy once you start getting a healthy amount of sleep again. On the other hand, chronic fatigue is daily tiredness that you can’t explain. You may even be getting more sleep than usual, but it doesn’t make you feel any better. Ongoing daily fatigue is a big sign that you’re exhausted.

2. You’re More Forgetful Than Usual

Being more forgetful than usual is a sign that you are exhausted

If you are suddenly more forgetful than usual, it could be a sign that your short-term memory is impaired. If you often can’t remember things that only happened a short time ago, like where you put the keys that you just had in your hand or the name of the cafe that you arranged to meet your friends at five minutes ago. 

Short term memory is our brain’s ability to retain information so that it’s readily available to use within a relatively short time period. This can be anywhere from 30 seconds to a couple of days. It’s not important information for our long-term survival, so our brains have evolved to forget that information after we have used it for its intended purpose. That’s why you can’t remember every phone number you’ve ever had to memorise or the name of every person you’ve ever met.

Exhaustion impairs short term memory, so it’s a big red flag if you suddenly start having issues with short-term memory or forgetfulness.

3. Getting Sick More Often

Getting sick more often than usual is a sign that you are exhausted

Getting sick is a very normal part of life. It’s not uncommon to get sick with a cold or flu anywhere from two to four times a year. It’s also good for you to get sick within that normal range because it strengthens your body’s immune system and allows you to fight off future illnesses.

You should be concerned if you’re getting sick more frequently, like once a month, or you feel like you never really recover from a lingering cold. A chronic state of exhaustion is so hard on the body that it will eventually suppress your immune system, and a suppressed immune system cannot fight off illness as well as a healthy one. This will get worse with time, so if you think that exhaustion might be to blame for a sudden increase in illness, it’s time to do something about it.

4. You’re More Grumpy Than Usual

Being more grumpy than usual is a sign that you are exhausted

The physical effects of exhaustion are deeply linked with mental health. It becomes more difficult to regulate your emotions when your body is run down. Exhaustion drives you right into the ground, so you can imagine the effect this would have on your mood.

In the early stages of exhaustion, you may notice yourself being irritated and annoyed with people more than usual. You may even find that you vocalise this irritation more than you would like. Left unaddressed, this could spiral into frequent anger and outbursts, which will affect your relationships. If it’s gotten to this point, you have yourself a serious problem that you cannot ignore.

5. You Have No Motivation

A lack of motivation is a sign that you are exhausted

It’s ok to have no motivation sometimes. We’re not always going to be genuinely amped-up to exercise or go to work, but exhaustion can strip you of the basic motivation you need to get through the day. The low energy that comes with exhaustion can leave you with no motivation to do anything but lie on the couch and rest. This is totally counterproductive because your body needs movement, exercise and purpose to beat exhaustion. Not something you will find on the couch. 

The lack of motivation can easily become a vicious cycle that prevents you from doing the physical and social activities you need to recover, which sends you deeper into exhaustion and eventually depression. Pay attention to a new lack of motivation that lasts longer than a day or two. This could be the early signs of exhaustion. It’s much easier to it in the bud early.

What To Do About Exhaustion

Spending more time with friends and getting more exercise are two ways to reduce stress and exhaustion

Can you relate to the symptoms of exhaustion on this list? What now? If you think you might be suffering from exhaustion, start by taking an honest audit of your current routine and habits:

  • Are you overworked?
  • Is work very stressful with no end in sight?
  • Do you get enough exercise?
  • Do you have enough social activities outside of work?
  • Are you in a toxic or abusive relationship?
  • Are you being bullied at work? 

Ask yourself the hard questions and be honest, because these are the things that have to change if you want to feel healthy again. It’s normal to feel tired sometimes, but not all of the time, and you have the right to thrive and enjoy life!

The key to overcoming exhaustion is to reduce stress as much as possible. Even if you can’t reduce stress at work, you can do things like spending more time with friends outside of work. Go to a regular yoga class or join a running group. Eat super healthy, reduce junk food and drink less alcohol. Prioritise healthy sleep by turning off all electronics, social media and distractions at least an hour before bed.

Finally, seek the help of a therapist ASAP if you feel the problem goes deeper than more socialising and exercise can fix, especially if it escalates to depression.

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