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We’ve Talked About It Over and Over Again: Emotional Exhaustion


Relationships. Let’s face it — they can be emotionally exhausting. Talking can get us somewhere, sometimes, but at a certain point, there’s nothing left to say. When you’re in an argument with your partner and you’re at odds with each other, you want to hear their side, but you also want them to listen to you. After a while, you feel like you’ve talked about the same thing for hours. It’s likely that you both feel emotionally exhausted. What does that mean, why does it happen, and more importantly, what can you do about it? 

What does it mean to be emotionally exhausted? 

Emotional exhaustion is like physical lethargy, except that it affects your brain. Your mind feels exhausted from the draining nature of your feelings. If you’re talking about a topic where a lot of strong feelings emerge, your mind will be taxed by it. For example, talking about infidelity or conversations where your partner shuts down your feelings. If you have a partner with a tendency to shut down emotionally, but you’re a highly emotional person, it can be frustrating to have specific conversations with them because you’re emoting and they’re ignoring these emotions. 

Shutting down

Sometimes, if you’re an emotional person, you shut down after experiencing intense emotions. It’s hard because you can only feel so much before your brain becomes overwhelmed. It’s not that you don’t want to feel emotions. Instead, it’s that your mind goes into overdrive and it’s too much. Maybe it seems like you’ve felt all that you can handle, and there’s nothing left to do, so you shut down. In some ways, this can bring a sense of numbness and even relief. When this happens, what is your brain doing? There’s a science behind it.

What your brain is doing during emotional exhaustion

When you feel emotionally exhausted, there is a reason why. You might feel like it comes out of nowhere; like you’re tired but can’t place it. Well, the chemicals in your brain are actually at a deficit. You might have experienced a rush of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine from all of the emotions that attacked your mind all at once. Now, with emotional exhaustion, your brain is at a deficit. You’re worn out, and everything is out of whack, so you feel numb. It’s kind of like a mental hangover. Your mind is tired from experiencing all the emotions it’s been through, and it needs a break. 

What you can do

When you’re emotionally exhausted, don’t fight it. Let it happen, and understand that there’s nothing terrible is going to happen to you. Let yourself feel the absence of feelings. Nothing is wrong with you because you don’t feel anything right now — you’re exhausted, and there are places where you can discuss this sensation. If it all feels like too much and you’re not sure where to turn, you might consider counseling or therapy. 

Online therapy 

Online therapy is an excellent place to talk about emotional exhaustion. Talk about your feelings with an online therapist and find a way to emote without letting go of all of your feelings to the point of numbness. Even if you feel numb, your therapist can help you work through it. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re feeling drained — there are mental health professionals who can support you through this. Talk to a therapist about your feelings, and understand that emotional exhaustion can happen to anyone. You will feel again, but be gentle with yourself. 

Getty photo by twinsterphoto

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