How to Deal With the 3 Types of Exhaustion

We all have coping mechanisms to deal with exhaustion- but if yours aren’t sustainable, then you’ll have larger problems than being tired. 

Overexhaustion is a crisis in this country- 43% of Americans admit that they’re too tired to function at work. A lifetime of living in this state takes a toll on the body, and this can lead to subconscious coping mechanisms that attempt to regain energy or simply pass on the aggression that comes with over-exertion.

The 3 Types of Exhaustion

Because there are different types of exhaustion, there is an overflow of coping mechanisms that someone can get their fuel from. Some are good, some are bad. 

The bottom line is: Most people face exhaustion, but not all people know how to deal with it healthily. It’s just like the planet- If you don’t source your fuel from sustainable places, you’re going to run out before you know how to cope without it. 

How to Deal With the 3 Types of Exhaustion

There are three main types of exhaustion– Emotional, Physical, and Intellectual. Many people face multiple at the same time, as different aspects of life demand different types of energy. Though stress in these areas should be managed through rest, taking care of the body and mind, people find other, more convenient ways to cope with this exhaustion. 

1. Emotional

Emotional labor is defined as “the management of feelings to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display”, and can be extended to any work that demands emotional labor, allowing less energy available to one’s personal life. This can be in occupation, in relationships, in any part of life.

Common coping mechanisms to emotional exhaustion include transferring anger and aggression to another person, substance abuse, dissociation, and self-deprecation, among other things.

Solutions to emotional exhaustion include replenishing your emotional capacity through rest and self-care. This doesn’t mean to take extra naps and take bubble baths- this means to listen to your body when it is exhausted, to exercise, to maintain hygiene, and to take time to breathe and meditate.

2. Physical

Physical exhaustion is pretty self-explanatory. Whether it be a physically demanding job, being constantly tired, or even being socially anxious, physical exertion is extremely common in the long-term. This causes great mental stress, as well, leading to the need for other coping mechanisms. 

Some of these include abusing caffeine, issues with anger, excessive stress, and the neglect of relationships. 

Stopping physical exertion is hard, especially when it’s a job requirement. To deal with the mental stress of being tired, you can stretch, and try breathing exercises to get better sleep and deal with day-to-day stress. 

3. Intellectual

Intellectual exhaustion can come from many places. Creative and demanding jobs often leave people more mentally tired than physically, resulting in not only worsened mental performance but physical manifestations of stress, like knots and ulcers. Some coping mechanisms to intellectual stress include producing low quality work, not trusting your intuition, and making rash decisions. 

To help with these symptoms, try rest, letting your mind be passive through meditation, and doing one thing you know will succeed to build confidence. 

Stress is inevitable. Exhaustion, unfortunately, is a lived reality for most people. Alongside taking measures in life to reduce sources of stress, efforts should be made to manage stress as well. Otherwise, you will find ways to release this stress into other parts of your life.  


Morgan Rundant

Morgan is a full time Environmental and Legal Studies student at the University of California Santa Cruz. Morgan works at the first non-transactional cafe in the country, the Cowell Coffee Shop: For the Peoples!

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