As we go on with our lives, we tend to focus on our physical wellbeing much more than our emotional wellbeing. After all, it is easier to focus on something that we can actually see, rather than something such as emotions and feelings. As a result, people tend to neglect their mental and emotional wellbeing. One of the most common negatives of this is emotional exhaustion, which is defined as a state of feeling emotionally drained and worn-out as a result of accumulated stress (Cafasso, 2019). In order to spread information about emotional exhaustion, this article will focus on 7 surprising things that can emotionally drain you.
First of all, let’s define what rumination means. Rumination refers to the unhealthy pattern of behaviours where people continuously overthink things to the point where it has negative effects on their wellbeing (Nortje, 2020). Have you ever regretted something you did in the past and can’t seem to get it out of your head? Rumination will leave you emotionally drained because you keep revisiting a situation that brings about bad memories, increasing your stress levels.
Additionally, research has shown that rumination can be associated with negative consequences such as anxiety, depression, PTSDs, etc (Tartakovsky, 2018). One of the most effective ways to stop rumination includes mindfulness, as this will help you direct your attention to the present, instead of focusing on past events.
Repressing your emotions
Do people constantly tell you, “You’ll be alright”, or “Don’t worry about it”, whenever you feel sad or angry? This is not to say that your friends are giving you bad advice but rather that society rates positivity very highly. However, there have been many studies that show that repressing your emotions will drain you, both physically and mentally.
More specifically, a study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Rochester in 2013 showed that people who repress emotions have a 30% increase in chance of a premature death from all causes (Cousins, 2018). Ignoring your emotions can seem like a good answer to avoid feeling sad or angry. However, the effect will be the opposite, since repressing emotions will actually make them stronger, as per a study conducted by the University of Texas (Cousins, 2018). So, it is very important that you are true to how you are feeling and learn how to deal with negative emotions instead of repressing them.
Having a victim mentality
Are you someone who always thinks that you are getting the short end of the deal, no matter the situation? This can be described as “victim mentality”. The victim mentality rests on three key beliefs (Raypole, 2019):
- Nothing is going to change, no matter how hard I try.
- Always blaming other people or circumstances is easier.
- Bad things will happen and keep happening.
Needless to say, this mentality has a negative nature, as seen from the three key beliefs that people with the victim mentality usually have. Emotional exhaustion or drainage will stem from the three key beliefs of this mentality. These beliefs will result in negative ideas or behaviours such as avoiding responsibility, not seeking solutions, and the development of a sense of powerlessness, which will all contribute to emotional exhaustion (Raypole, 2019). So, if you have this mentality, one possible solution would be to talk with someone who will help you acknowledge possibilities that will broaden your perspective.
Focusing on things out of your control
Are you someone who usually spends a large amount of time and effort trying to control everything surrounding you? Well, here’s the truth, most of the things that happen to you are out of your control. Being in control of everything surrounding you might give you the feeling that you will be able to prevent bad things from happening. Similarly, focusing and thinking hard enough about things such as natural disasters or diseases might give you a sense that you are safe (Morin, 2017).
However, in the end, the only thing that focusing on things out of your control does is that it will put an additional amount of pressure and stress on your emotional and physical state. Additionally, it will waste time and effort that you might be able to spend on things that you can actually control. So, in order to avoid emotional drainage from this, you should determine things that you can actually control and concentrate on them, rather than having your focus all around the place.
Toxic positivity is defined as the ineffective and excessive overgeneralisation of an optimistic state across any situation (Quintero, 2020). Are you someone who forces yourself to be happy, even though you’re clearly feeling the opposite? If you do this all the time, no matter the situation, then you are probably experiencing toxic positivity.
As someone who will try to be in a happy state all the time, you are very prone to deny, minimise or invalidate your true emotions whenever these are not in line with happiness (Quintero, 2020). The results are similar to that of suppressing your emotions, since the excessive amount of positivity is used to hide or repress emotions such as jealousy, sadness, anger, amongst others. As a result, your emotional and physical state will be under much more stress, resulting in exhaustion.
Saying “yes” to people too frequently
Are you someone who will usually accepts extra work shifts, even though you are already working overtime, or volunteers to help someone with their homework even though you are busy enough with your own? Well, saying yes to people and helping them is great and will most likely result in people having a better impression of you. But too much of anything is bad and saying yes too frequently will inherently put additional stress into your emotional and physical wellbeing, leading to exhaustion or burn-out (Ladouceur, 2020). It might be difficult to start saying no to people from time to time, especially if saying yes is a habit of yours. A good starting point is to think that you need to take care of yourself first, and then focus on other people.
If any of the points addressed in this article sound familiar to you and you are feeling emotionally exhausted and drained, then it might be a good time to start taking action and focus on restoring your emotional wellbeing. It will be difficult, of course, since you will need to start doing things that you are not used to doing or changing your whole perspective about life. However, in the long run, your mind and body will feel much better.
Cafasso, J., 2019. Emotional Exhaustion: What It Is And How To Treat It. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/emotional-exhaustion> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Cousins, L., 2018. ARE THERE DOWNSIDES TO ALWAYS TRYING TO BE POSITIVE?. [online] Health Agenda. Available at: <https://www.hcf.com.au/health-agenda/body-mind/mental-health/downsides-to-always-being-positive#:~:text=%E2%80%9CSuppressing%20your%20emotions%2C%20whether%20it’s,memory%20and%20self%2Desteem.%E2%80%9D> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Ladouceur, P., 2020. 3 Ways To Know If You’Re Saying Yes Too Much. [online] Mental Help. Available at: <https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/3-ways-to-know-if-you-re-saying-yes-too-much/> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Morin, A., 2017. 6 Ways To Stop Stressing About Things You Can’t Control. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2017/05/13/6-ways-to-stop-stressing-about-things-you-cant-control/?sh=2d846edf30db> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Nortje, A., 2020. Mindful Thinking: 4+ Ways To Stop Ruminating And Overthinking. [online] Positive Psychology. Available at: <https://positivepsychology.com/mindful-thinking/> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Quintero, S., 2020. Toxic Positivity: The Dark Side Of Positive Vibes. [online] The Psychology Group. Available at: <https://thepsychologygroup.com/toxic-positivity/#:~:text=We%20define%20toxic%20positivity%20as,the%20authentic%20human%20emotional%20experience.> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Raypole, C., 2019. How To Identify And Deal With A Victim Mentality. [online] Healthline. Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/victim-mentality> [Accessed 24 November 2020].
Tartakovsky, M., 2018. Why Ruminating Is Unhealthy And How To Stop. [online] Psych Central. Available at: <https://psychcentral.com/blog/why-ruminating-is-unhealthy-and-how-to-stop/#:~:text=When%20people%20ruminate%2C%20they%20over,%2Ddrinking%20and%20binge%2Deating.> [Accessed 24 November 2020].