6 Signs You’re Mentally Exhausted, Not Lazy

This article is for educational purposes and is based on personal opinions. This article is not a substitute for professional advice, but for general guidance. We advise you to always listen to your intuition and always do what is right for you. If you can relate to any of these signs, please do not take this feedback as an attack on your character. This article was meant to be a self-improvement guide for those of you who have been feeling a little stuck.

Have you recently had trouble finding the drive to do things or felt that your energy levels were too low to do your tasks? There are a number of reasons that might cause this feeling, with the main one being mental exhaustion or depression. However, with society becoming more fast-paced and productive, popular belief has also shifted to normalise the fact that people are putting too much on their schedules.

Because of this, people tend to confuse “mental exhaustion” with “laziness” since both of these terms are similar in a surface level (Grohol, 2018). This leads to an undesired interchangeability between these two terms that can cause people to inadequately address the issue, e.g., people who are mentally exhausted feel guilty because they think they are just being lazy. Therefore, this article will be discussing 6 signs that you’re mentally exhausted, not lazy.

You don’t feel motivated

Do you get a feeling of hopelessness when thinking about the future? Lacking motivation in your life is one of the biggest signs that you’re mentally exhausted. The goals that you used to have and worked so  hard for are no longer enough for you. You might be struggling to get tasks or assignments done, which will inevitably affect your studies or professional career. Even starting them feel like a huge burden to you because you don’t have the drive anymore.

The main difference between someone mentally exhausted and someone lazy is that someone who is mentally exhausted feels numb and won’t care about the consequences anymore (IDSMED, 2019). If this sounds like you, then it’s very important that you acknowledge the fact that you’re not just being lazy. Try contacting a trusted friend or a professional. Practice mindfulness to assess the situation from a broader perspective and get rid of the things that you think are mentally exhausting you (IDSMED, 2019).

You can’t focus or concentrate

Have you been having trouble focusing when working on something? Having difficulty focusing or concentrating is one of the signs of mental exhaustion. By nature, the human mind has a limited capacity, and overloading it will only have negative effects on the efficiency with which it performs its basic functions (Elevate Counseling, 2020).

You might have been very good at multi-tasking at one point of your life and now you can’t even read a book without having your mind wander around. You might also be finding difficulty doing a task that you used to do easily before. The best solution to address this is to eliminate whatever it is that’s causing you to be mentally exhausted and give your mind a break so that it can recover.

Small tasks seem overwhelming

How easily do you get started on simple household chores? One of the signs that you’re mentally exhausted is finding even small tasks overwhelming. You might struggle to get started on simple tasks such as vacuuming the carpet, washing the dishes, or doing the laundry. The main reason for this, according to psychiatrist Margaret Seide, MD, is that you might feel like even simple tasks take a ton of steps to be done. At this point, your brain is simply too drained to do anything that takes even the slightest of effort (Risher, 2021). Once again, getting rid of whatever it is that’s mentally draining you and letting your mind have a proper break might be the best solution to address this issue.

You constantly dream and fantasize about a drastic change

Do you often find yourself day-dreaming about winning the lottery and taking a long vacation? It’s safe to say that everyone has done this at least once. But, if you constantly find yourself fantasizing about a drastic change, you’re probably mentally exhausted. Constantly wanting to escape from your current situation only goes to show how unhappy and unsatisfied you are with your reality.

Although this might seem harmless, it has the potential to make you feel worse because of the constant comparison that you’ll be making between that “ideal” scenario and your reality (Elevate Counseling, 2020). Ultimately, you’ll feel like you’ll never be happy because of how far that ideal life seems, making you feel even less motivated and unappreciative of the things that you have.

You get more easily irritated

Have been felt irritated by even the tiniest things lately? This might be a telling sign that you’re mentally exhausted. You might find negativity all around you and constantly feel irritated by the smallest things (IDSMED, 2019). The main reason for this, according to Seide, is that being mentally exhausted automatically puts you on a low-grade fight-or-flight mode (Risher, 2021). As such, your mind and body will be on a constant state of high-alert as it tries to fend off any potential dangers. Therefore, even the smallest things or actions will trigger a reaction and irritate you.

Resting isn’t helping your energy levels

Do you feel tired even after having a good sleep the night before? This can be attributed to the fact that you’re mentally exhausted. Having a good sleep during the night is very important to ensure that you are well-rested physically, and it will also have good effects on your mental state. However, if you are mentally exhausted, having a good sleep can only do so much for you. According to psychotherapist Joseph Zagame, LCSW-R, and clinical director of myTherapyNYC, the best way to deal with this is making time to process your feelings. This can be by using a journal, a supportive friend, or a therapist, since these can help you restore what sleep can’t (Risher, 2021).

To conclude this article, it is very important that you are aware of the difference between being mentally exhausted and lazy. You really don’t want to be labelling yourself as lazy when you are going through a rough patch of your life that’s causing you to be mentally exhausted. It would only cause harm to you. As such, the signs discussed in this article will hopefully provide you with enough information to figure out whether you are mentally exhausted or not.


Elevate Counseling. (2020). Emotionally Exhausted: 7 Serious Signs of Burnout That Require Your Immediate Attention. Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://www.elevatecounseling.com/blog/emotionally-exhausted-7-serious-signs-of-burnout-that-require-your-immediate-attention

Grohol, J. (2018). Am I Depressed or Just Lazy?. Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/am-i-depressed-or-just-lazy#1

IDSMED. (2019). 8 Signs You’re Mentally and Emotionally Exhausted. Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://www.idsmed.com/news/8-signs-youre-mentally-and-emotionally-exhausted_400.html

Risher, B. (2021). 9 Signs You’re Mentally Exhausted — And How to Bounce Back. Retrieved 15 April 2021, from https://www.fatherly.com/love-money/mentally-exhausted-signs/

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