40 Things to Do When You Feel Emotionally and Physically Drained

by Merja Willock on August 8, 2012

in Mood + Self-Care, Well Being and Lifestyle

We have all been in a situation where we see all the warning signs of exhaustion building up, but still find it extremely difficult or even impossible to slow down, thus prolonging recovery and draining our body and mind. I can’t say that even though I am acutely aware of the effect stress has on our overall well-being I would have always stopped on time to just be and take care of myself before it is already too late. Lately, many of my favorite bloggers have done the same. Listening to themselves and taking a well-earned break to concentrate on self-care, providing room for new ideas and inspiration to flow in naturally.

In this list I have gathered 40 tips with some helpful questions to reflect on when you feel energetically, emotionally and physically drained and exhausted.

40 Things to Do When You Feel Emotionally and Physically Drained


01. Drink more water
Many people are chronically dehydrated, one symptom is tiredness.

02. Eat fresh and colorful foods
This is pretty much a no brainer, but it is one of the most important things that you can do. The more green juices, salads and raw foods I eat, the better my energy levels and mental clarity are, and I notice that I don’t need as much sleep to wake up refreshed.

03. Stay away from stimulants
They only give you an unhealthy energy boost and with constant stress, can easily lead to adrenal exhaustion.

04. Rule out food allergies
Sometimes the only symptom of a sensitivity or allergy can be tiredness or exhaustion. Blood tests are good to start with, but they don’t show delayed sensitivities. One great thing to do is to keep a food diary to recognize the connection between the foods that you have eaten and your energy levels. However, reactions are not necessarily immediate, and if you cut out suspected food from your diet it can take a long time until your body heals, and you start to feel better.

05. Make sure that you don’t suffer from adrenal exhaustion, vitamin B deficiency, anemia or candida
These are just a few examples of what can cause tiredness, and all are things that I have suffered from myself. With traditional doctors who don’t address adrenal problems or candida nor acknowledge that these are real problems, it’s impossible to address these issues. Instead, try to find a good functional medicine practitioner, naturopath or herbalist. Be well informed and listen to your body. Again, knowledge is power!


06. Re-evaluate the work/studying you do
We are not all in our dream jobs.  If you feel that you can’t use your talents and strengths, or that your job isn’t meaningful, or the only reason you do it is to put food on the table, reconsider what you do.  An occupation like that can easily ruin your mental and physical health. What would you really love to do, and what could be the first step to take to make that into reality? I stayed in a position like that for too long, getting panic attacks and experiencing insomnia because I felt my talents were wasted, and that I wasn’t following the right path for me. Spend some serious time to think and reflect on what you really value in your life, and how you could combine those pieces into something that you have a desire to do.

07. Take several small breaks during the day
Breathe, meditate, hula hoop, bounce on a mini trampoline, or go for a walk. I’m guilty of sitting in front of my computer hour after hour, sometimes until the next morning if I get into a flow, and have a project that I can’t just stop working on. It would be ideal to set yourself small breaks throughout the day, even if it would only be walking around the corner, meditating for 5 minutes, stretching or doing a couple of yoga poses several times during your day. Try this to get you started.

08. Take a digital break
All the information that comes through the computer, social media and news is extremely exhausting for our brains. We don’t need to, nor are we able to process all that in a short amount of time. Go through your RSS reader and newsletter subscriptions and delete, delete, delete. The last time I was in Finland, I opened my laptop only once to check my email, and that was the wisest thing I have done for a long time. The days felt so much longer and relaxed, and I got rid of the false sense of having to be available all the time, instead concentrating on what really mattered. Take as long a break as is possible in your current situation. Even one day a week makes a big difference.

09. Turn off the computer when you don’t really need it
Seriously. Too many hours can make you feel that you have brain fog, disrupt your sleeping patterns and expose you to unnecessary amounts of harmful radiation if you are using wifi.

10. Delegate
Anything that you are comfortable to let others take care of.


11. Have a good sleep
Sleep is usually one of the first things that suffers when you are exhausted. When you are too tired, you can start to have problems to fall asleep, your inner chatter box can get more active during the night, and you can wake up frequently, feeling exhausted in the morning. If you worry a lot, write everything down during the day to empty your mind, and have a cup of relaxing herbal tea and a warm shower or bath before going to sleep. Establish an evening routine that helps your mind and body to switch off.

12. Change your environment
This works wonders. The longer the better, but even working in a cafe, at least for me, is much more relaxed than working from home, and I get so much more done in a shorter period of time because there are no distractions. On a holiday usually the change of environment is the first thing that moves my thoughts away from work stuff. When you spend your time in the same place, you are caught up in your daily routine, often seeing things only from one perspective. A change of environment lets you to see life through a different lens, and helps you to see things differently, offering you the break to relax and come up with new ideas.


13. Say no
I’m guilty of wanting to please other people, and the last time I promised to do something against my own intuition I ended up on the verge of tears, frustration and exhaustion. Before you promise to do anything, think for a second how it really makes you feel and if it is seriously worth it. I made a mental note to myself that I don’t need to please everyone if the outcome for me is exhaustion and panic.

14. Don’t stress about what other people think of you
There are always going to be people who don’t like what you are doing, trying to put you down. It is just a waste of your precious time and energy, easily making you more negative if you concentrate on those thoughts.

15. Say what you think, people are not mind readers!
In the eyes of other people (than my family) I always try to be as positive, happy and nice as possible, not confessing that I’m totally exhausted before it’s too late and that I really need a break.

16. Make someone else happy
Even if you feel too exhausted to do anything for yourself, and are deep in your own problems, you can always brighten up someone else’s day. It doesn’t take a lot of energy to say some nice encouraging words, leave a comment on an inspirational blog post or send a text, email or call a friend.


17. Listen to your body
Different ailments are signs that something is not right. If you try to suppress those voices by popping pills and using stimulants, you are ignoring the real causes. Rest when you feel tired, not only when you have to.

18. Follow your intuition
If you try stubbornly do things that don’t resonate with you and your intuition already tells you there is something wrong at the start, you can easily burn yourself out if you push through and do something that doesn’t come naturally to you.

19. Feel your feelings
Cry when you feel like crying, don’t bottle up your frustrations. Allow yourself some quiet time daily to fully feel your feelings instead of suppressing them.

20. Listen to the silence
Just sit or lie down and be without doing anything.


21. Write a journal
You can record your bouts of exhaustion and then later connect the dots and find out if there were situations that lead to you to be more tired. Certain people, certain foods or just simply not sleeping enough. It’s easier to go back through your journal than trying to only vaguely remember things. When you write your feelings on paper instead of retaining them in your body, it’s easier to relax and let go of tension.


22. Prioritize
Don’t try to do everything from your overly long to-do list during one day. That leads to multitasking and slows you down. Concentrate only on those things that you absolutely have to do, preferably love, and evaluate what drains your energy the most. Could you do those things later or delegate them to someone else?

23. Let go of everything that drains you
That can be basically anything. Relationships that don’t work anymore, negative thoughts, or going out when you don’t feel like it, and would prefer to spend a nice quiet evening with your book.

24. De-clutter and get rid of everything that doesn’t truly matter
Both digital and physical clutter are signs of our inner chaos, and my energy drastically drops if I have to spend time in a place like that. It gets difficult to find and notice what is truly valuable and it takes time to search for anything important when it’s surrounded by meaningless stuff.


25. Read something light
I’m all for nutrition and health books because I find them absolutely fascinating and love learning. However, absorbing them is still work, and sometimes it is just great to lie in bed in the morning, and read something totally different. I can wholeheartedly recommended the book Homer’s Odyssey, story about the blind cat. It truly teaches you the meaning of unconditional love and courage.

26. Spend time alone
As an introvert, I need lots of time alone to recharge my batteries. If I spend too many days without a chance to have some time alone I get extremely cranky, irritated and say nasty things to other people without really meaning them.

27. Have fun
What did you love to do as a child when you were not taking yourself too seriously, how could you incorporate some of those things in your life?

28. Spend the day in your pajamas, watching old movies and TV series that you love, and that make you laugh
We all need this every now and then. Laughing creates feel-good chemicals, and strengthens our immune system. It gets you out of your own head, providing the possibility to focus to something else.


29. Prioritize self-care in your calendar and be accountable to yourself
Think of self-care as the most important meeting with yourself. If you haven’t scheduled it in your calendar you are unlikely to do it. Self-care nourishes your mind and body, and is a way of thanking and appreciating your body every day for all that it does for you.

30. Take a yoga class
Rejuvenating classes are particularly wonderful and soothing, helping you to establish your mind and body connection. I always feel so much clearer and calmer if I have been able to drag myself to a class when feeling brain fogged and irritated.

31. Write down how your ideal day would look
Then go and have a day like that.

32. Love yourself
Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar


33. Don’t compare yourself to others
It can only lead you to be anxious, jealous, feel unworthy and drain your energy. You are already good enough.

34. Try not to take everything too personally
It can be extremely difficult if you are a sensitive person. Read my article from MindBodyGreen on how to better deal with criticism.

35. Don’t force yourself
You are not getting any better ideas by forcing yourself to stubbornly try to sit in front of your computer or notebook, waiting for brilliant ideas to pop up. It drains your energy, and eats precious time that you could use for self-care, or spend with real people, thus nourishing your creativity and mood. Instead give yourself time, leave out all the “shoulds” and know that when you are relaxed and rested there’s room for new ideas to come to the surface.

36. Get help
Sometimes it is enough to pour your problems out when your closest friend or colleague is listening to what you have gone through, and possibly offer you new perspectives to deal with them. Sometimes it’s better to speak with a professional. However, make sure that the coach or counselor is someone who truly understands your concerns, otherwise it’s meaningless and can make you feel even worse.

37. Forgive yourself
Instead of shooting yourself in the foot thinking that you have failed if you take it easy because of your exhaustion, completely accept the fact that you really need to rest, and stop feeling guilty about it. Take the time to recover because it only makes things worse in the long run if you try to do something when you don’t have the energy. Been there, done that, and nothing really good comes of it.


38. Concentrate on your accomplishments instead of what you didn’t get done
I have a small notebook where I try to jot down daily all the things that I accomplished during that day, also remembering what I’m grateful for. It makes your mind concentrate on positive thoughts, and keeps you motivated when you realize how much you actually got done, and realize all the good things in your life.


39. Listen to guided meditations, relaxations, visualizations or a good audiobook
Turn one on, and let the journey to better mood begin!

40. Nourish your creative talents
By doing something that you love, immersed in a state of flow where time loses it’s meaning you get nourished and energized on a deeper level.

Please add in the comments section what gives you more energy, helps you to slow down, and eases you when you feel exhausted.

Thank you for visiting! I have moved. Visit merjawillock.com and facebook.com/MerjaWillockStudios to rejuvenate your life energy with art, music, poetry and beauty!

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Jess February 25, 2013 at 3:22 am

I really enjoyed your guideness. Thanks you

Joy June 14, 2013 at 2:23 pm

some great stuff, but not one mention of exercise? that would be the first thing I would do!

Merja July 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm

I agree that exercise is one of the most important things that you can do to feel better on daily basis and it is mentioned two times: #5 and #30.

Kimberly Suraj June 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Very interesting article thanks!

Mei July 18, 2013 at 11:57 pm

love ur article. thanks

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