Sep 21, 2023

KSRE: What is mental exhaustion?

Posted Sep 21, 2023 1:08 PM
<b>Image Courtesy KSRE</b>
Image Courtesy KSRE

Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

This article focuses on supporting the well-being of Kansas farmers and ranchers and focuses on understanding mental exhaustion. 

Understanding this condition of mental exhaustion is not new. However, unless you have truly experienced extreme tiredness or fatigue, you may ask, why am I reading this article?

During my military days in the United States Army, I found myself nearest to this state of mental exhaustion. I was trying to adjust to the ways of the army, sleep schedules, military food, environments, and increased physical fitness that stretched my well-being. Well, that was nearly 34 years ago, and yes, I managed to survive and complete years of service as a Supply Sergeant and Unit Armorer.

That lived experience was my introduction to mental exhaustion. Sharing this information about mental exhaustion can include physical and emotional symptoms: anger, sadness, and a sense of powerlessness. Furthermore, you may struggle with your work performance and overall productivity. However, chronic or long-term stress can play a role in mental exhaustion.

Think back to the last time you felt exhausted after a long day. Your body may have been tired, but your brain probably didn’t feel too sharp, either. Maybe all you felt like doing was a low-key activity. Conversely, mental exhaustion can affect physical performance, making exercise and other tasks that require endurance feel considerably more physically taxing and demanding.

Simply put, mental exhaustion can happen when your brain receives too much stimulation or maintains an intense level of activity without rest. You might notice mental exhaustion, sometimes called mental fatigue, if you:

• Often work or study for long hours with limited breaks.

• Spend time each day dealing with overwhelming responsibilities.

• Live with mental health symptoms.

• Devote a lot of energy each day to thinking through problems, worries, or other sources of stress.

It’s not uncommon to feel physically fatigued from time to time, and the same holds true for mental fatigue. Mental fatigue can affect your ability to think, solve problems, or process and regulate emotions. Eventually, it can lead to challenges in your daily life and relationships.

Ongoing mental exhaustion can begin to affect your everyday activities and behavior. You might find yourself constantly putting off tasks at work or around the house.

Mental exhaustion can happen to anyone and can’t always be avoided. Taking a few preemptive steps can help lower your chances of experiencing ongoing mental fatigue.

• Take time off regularly.

• Plan time for self-care.

• Rest when you feel sick.

• Stay connected.

• Know when and how to say no.

You might be mentally exhausted if you work or live in a high-stress environment. Being in a high-pressure job can undoubtedly contribute to this phenomenon. Furthermore, you are at an increased risk of developing unwanted symptoms if you lack support, healthy coping skills, and proper stress management skills.

Mental exhaustion can have serious consequences — not just for your physical and emotional health. A physician or therapist can offer more guidance on treatments for mental fatigue, resources to cope with stress, and other supportive strategies.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, can be reached by calling or texting 988 or chatting with a counselor online by visiting

NAMI Helpline is available Monday-Friday, 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. CST. The helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), texting “HelpLine” to 62640, or emailing [email protected].

Crisis Text Line, available 24 hours a day, can be reached by texting “HOME” to 741741 or visiting

Central Kansas Mental Health Center crisis line- 785-823-6322. This line has trained staff available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week to provide crisis support and referral to the right resources to meet your needs.