Stress exhaustion is a combination of physical and emotional exhaustion that is the result of prolonged high stress situations. Combined with lack of rest, exhaustion can be highly debilitating. People who suffer from this condition feel overwhelmed by the events around them. Many also experience feelings of frustration and helplessness. If not addressed, it can lead to additional health problems.
The immune system, the body's first line of defense against illness, is affected by stress. High amounts of stress release hormones that depress the immune system. In the short term, this may not have a detrimental effect, but in the long term, the immune system will be compromised by these hormones. Stress exhaustion has been linked with depression, heart disease, and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases.
Stress exhaustion also affects work performance. Making the right decision can be very difficult for an individual who is suffering from exhaustion. In the corporate world, this condition is often referred to as burnout. Some high pressure work environments do not make sufficient allowances for stress, making it difficult for workers to communicate their needs.
Individuals of all ages, classes, and occupations can be affected by stress exhaustion. In the case of students, high intensity schoolwork combined with working long hours can be dangerous. Housewives often juggle a wide variety of difficult tasks including caring for children and maintaining a household. Other individuals may experience a unique combination of factors that result in exhaustion.
To prevent stress exhaustion, stress management techniques should be used, starting with enough healthy sleep. There are a variety of techniques to improve sleeping habits, starting with setting a consistent sleep schedule. Refraining from food, stimulants, and exercise for at least four hours before sleeping has also been shown to improve sleep. The bedroom should be kept calm, quiet, and orderly to help sleepers relax. It is much easier to make rational and productive decisions when properly rested.
Stress should also be kept to a manageable level, and individuals should not be shy about communicating their needs. People should be conscious of what upsets and stresses them, and the issues should be addressed rather than buried. Developing a balanced and healthy life is a good stress management technique, and people should make an effort to socialize and build ties outside of their stressful environments. A healthy diet is also helpful. Some individuals also benefit from religious practice, meditation, or relaxing body disciplines such as yoga.
If stress can be reduced before an individual reaches the stage of exhaustion, a happier and healthier life will most likely result. In some cases, professional help may be needed to help implement healthier living techniques. A greater awareness of stress exhaustion, particularly in corporate environments, has led to more support for employees suffering from it. This can be an avoidable condition.