Is It Burnout Or Existential Exhaustion? Symptoms To Look Out For!

Last Update on August 3, 2022 : Published on August 3, 2022
Existential exhaustion

When exhaustion goes beyond fatigue, when you’d rather stay curled up in bed than face another day, when you wake up feeling despair rather than hope (you get my point), that’s when you can name your tiredness as existential exhaustion or existential fatigue.

Existential exhaustion is the tiredness that is mostly born of your search for life’s purpose and meaning. This exhaustion is experienced right before you slide into an existential crisis.

Existential crisis can be described as the feelings and questions we experience and wonder about our life’s meaning and purpose. When you can’t find the answers you seek, it can leave you feeling stuck and not being able to understand how or which way to go in life, hence causing negative emotions.

While existential exhaustion can be linked with negative emotions and feelings, we can still see it in a positive light, especially when we use this opportunity to self-reflect, get in touch with our values, and take a step to overcome existential fatigue.

In this blog, let’s take a look at the symptoms of existential exhaustion and how you can fight this tiredness.

Existential Exhaustion: When Does It Begin?

The answer’s simple: when you can’t find your life’s purpose. When you can’t or haven’t figured out what you are doing with or in your life, when you know that what you’re doing now isn’t enough – that’s when existential exhaustion begins.

While you find your days enjoyable, there’s a sliver of fatigue lurking. The period right before you slide down the slippery slope straight into an existential crisis. The moments you enjoy during these days, while filled with joy, can be fleeting. You are enjoying these little moments but they are meaningful.

Existential exhaustion begins when you get enough physical energy and satisfaction but never enough mental or emotional energy. You feel physically fine but you’re mentally and emotionally exhausted – all the time.

We need the right diet to feel nourished, right? It’s the same way with the right mental and emotional energy. We need the right experiences to fill our emotional, mental, and spiritual carrier. Each of these experiences is unique to all but they all have something similar – they hold meaning. This meaning (unique to all) can help us recover from our existential fatigue or exhaustion.

Anything that holds a meaning can recharge your soul and mental energy. When an experience holds a meaning, you feel motivated to embrace the experience. When you have the motivation to embrace, you allow yourself to embrace the many possibilities the experience might bring.

However, when there is no meaning, there is no motivation. Without motivation, your mental and emotional battery will deplete until you’re forced to click power saver mode aka existential exhaustion.

During this state of exhaustion, anything (function or otherwise) is turned off. This means that your state of alertness, your creativity, your power of imagination, your passion, and your energy are turned off. You begin living in a monotone world, carrying out basic functions yet never registering what you’re doing.

You begin surviving instead of living.

Is It Existential Exhaustion Or Something Else?

When you experience existential exhaustion, it’s common to feel lost, uneasy, confused, and lose touch with your sense of purpose. You feel this way and wonder if you’re experiencing depression, tiredness, or crisis.

Here are some symptoms of existential exhaustion that you need to look out for:

  • You experience chronic boredom
  • You have no mental energy and your emotions become dull
  • You begin to live a monotonous life
  • You lose your sleep and time goes by slowly
  • You feel no sense of achievement in life
  • You feel no security in your future
  • You constantly make small avoidable mistakes because you aren’t able to focus well
  • You procrastinate more and never volunteer for work you previously found enjoyable
  • You do the bare minimum required of you
  • You begin to feel physically sick most of the time
  • You begin experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • You begin to ask questions about everything you do
  • Your energy ranks below low and you no longer want to engage in activities
  • You lose social connections and feel lonely
  • You find most conversations lacking
  • You begin isolating yourself more
  • You begin consuming alcohol, recreational drugs, etc.
  • You prefer to engage in unhealthy distractions (binge-eating, binge-watching, etc.)

These symptoms can mean that you’re either close to or in a state of existential exhaustion. Most of the time, the causes of existential exhaustion can include:

  • Major (unexpected) life changes
  • Not feeling fulfilled with life’s direction
  • Feeling out of control
  • Experiencing a loss of a loved one

If you or your loved one is experiencing existential exhaustion, then you can reach out to a professional life coach or a counselor for help. They can help you find the source of your feelings and reframe your thinking from negative to positive.

Here are some other ways you can fight existential exhaustion.

How To Fight Existential Exhaustion?

1. Find Support In Your Loved Ones

If you’re experiencing existential exhaustion, then support from loved ones can help you. Connecting with your loved ones can make you feel less isolated. Plus, seeking their support can help you gather some outside perspective that can help you overcome exhaustion.

2. Express Your Feelings

Bottling up things never helps. Learn to let go of your feelings by expressing them. Your exhaustion is telling you something so listen to it. Try expressive ways to convey your feelings. Journaling can also help make sense of your thoughts, and feelings, and understand what your questions are.

3. Enjoy Little Things

No matter what, try and enjoy every moment that you come across. I understand that while everything looks black and white, finding colors can be hard but try. Make it a habit to find at least three things you’re grateful for in your life every day.

4. Focus On What’s In Your Control

Existential exhaustion can make you feel out of control so try to focus on things you can control instead of what you can’t. When you do this, you can feel more grounded. This opportunity also gives you a chance to analyze your actions.

5. Express Gratitude

As I said, gratitude is an important part of life and can work wonders when it comes to fighting existential exhaustion. Write down things you’re grateful for – big or small. It could be your health, your friends, your family, and even the cup of coffee you drank in the morning. This practice is a good way to connect with your life’s experiences and values.

6. Join A Support Group

Existential exhaustion can make you lose social connections so to fight this feeling, join support groups. You can find offline meetups or online forums to connect with others. Listening to others and sharing your experiences can help you come to terms with your current predicament and find whatever’s making you feel existential exhaustion.

7. Rediscover Your Life’s Purpose

Existential exhaustion occurs when you fail to find meaning in your life’s experiences. Use this opportunity to reconnect with your life’s purpose. Take a break and try to focus on your interests and passions. Try to rekindle your joy in life by restarting your unfinished projects.

Existential exhaustion can be…an exhausting and isolating experience. However, with the right tools, you can turn your exhaustion into a learning experience. If you feel disconnected from your life’s meaning, spend time with your loved ones, reach out to a counselor, volunteer, or reconnect with your interests.

You are not alone. Your life has a meaning, all you need to do is find a way to connect with it. Whatever you’re going through, a counselor can help. Connect with one by clicking on the link below.

You can also connect with us at or DM us on social media. You can also share your tips to fight existential exhaustion in the comments below.

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

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