As a licensed mental health counselor, I often see clients who are struggling with anxiety and exhaustion. In today's fast-paced world, it's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Anxiety and exhaustion can be caused by a variety of factors, including work-related stress, relationship issues, life transitions, genetic factors and health problems. Heck, we survived a worldwide pandemic which is enough stress to recover from!
In this blog post, we will explore the symptoms and causes of anxiety and exhaustion as well as discuss some strategies for managing these difficult feelings.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Anxiety can be a normal response to stress, but it can become a problem when it interferes with daily life.
Some symptoms of anxiety include:
Restlessness or feeling on edge
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, life/identity changes and environmental factors such as stress or trauma. Pregnancy and postpartum anxiety can begin as early as the first trimester and last indefinitely if left untreated. According to Postpartum Support International, approximately 6% of pregnant women and 10% of postpartum women develop anxiety.
What is Exhaustion?
Exhaustion is a feeling of extreme tiredness or fatigue that can be physical, mental, or emotional.
Some symptoms of exhaustion include:
Excessive tiredness and sleepiness
Impaired decision making/judgment
Sore, aching, weak muscles
Exhaustion can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor sleep habits, parenting/caretaking with lack of support, excessive invisible/visible labor, lack of time to complete important tasks, overwork, chronic stress, and health problems. Exhaustion, if untreated or unchanged will likely lead to burnout which, has increased exponentially post-pandemic in families and the workforce.
5 Ways to Manage Anxiety and Exhaustion
If you're feeling anxious or exhausted, there are several strategies you can try to manage these difficult feelings:
Physical exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce anxiety, improve energy levels and releases endorphins. Try to incorporate some physical activity into your daily routine, such as going for a walk or doing yoga. As simple as it might sound exercise has been proven time and time again to be the first line treatment for anxiety and depression. If you are parent and are short on time and support, try signing up for a gym with childcare, walking with a friend, try out a running stroller or do short intervals of exercise.
Relaxation techniques: Techniques such as deep breathing (with your diaphragm), meditation, and progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce anxiety, improve sleep and promote relaxation. Try finding a minute or two in between stressful or energized activities to breath deeply (slow exhale) in order to signal safety to the body and complete the stress cycle of anxiety. The book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle is one of my favorites to recommend as it has wonderful, evidence-based guidelines on working through the stress cycle.
Sleep hygiene: Getting enough sleep is essential for managing both anxiety and exhaustion. Protecting sleep at all costs can be incredibly challenging but, oh so important. Try to establish a consistent sleep routine and avoid using electronics before bedtime. If you are experiencing disrupted sleep due to memories, flashbacks, or intrusive thoughts you might benefit from EMDR or CBT-I for insomnia.
Time management: If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, try to prioritize your tasks and delegate responsibilities when possible. Many of us are overwhelmed (especially women), struggle with not having enough time, lack support and often take care of the majority of visible and invisible labor. In therapy, you can confidentially discuss and explore the inner workings of your world. Working with a licensed professional you can look at options and treatment modalities to shift, outsource responsibilities and reduce anxiety, guilt, expectations that may be increasing symptoms of anxiety and overwhelm.
Seek professional help: If you're struggling with anxiety or exhaustion, it's important to seek professional help from a licensed therapist or healthcare provider. They can help you develop a personalized treatment plan to understand where your anxiety and exhaustion may be coming from, manage your symptoms and improve your overall well-being.
You are not alone! Anxiety and exhaustion can be challenging to manage, but with the right strategies and support, it's possible to significantly improve your well-being. If you're struggling with anxiety or exhaustion, don't hesitate to from a licensed therapist or healthcare provider. With the right guidance and support, you can learn to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Lowther Counseling Services, www.LowtherCS.com, 2023