Embrace Your Exhaustion, Just Don’t Let It Kill You, please.

Jenni Ho-Huan
8 min readJan 10, 2022
a man seated on bridge with head in hands in city sunset
Bruno Aguire, Unsplash

Exhaustion can kill.

Karoshi is the Japanese term for those who are found to have died from overwork, often collapsed on their office desks.

There are other deaths too — when we give up and quit, become adversarial and attack, or change track as we hunker down and deaden to our dreams and aspirations.

Just as Paul Simon famously sang of 50 ways to leave one’s lover, we have as many ways to find ourselves in a heap of exhaustion if not more.

For a sampling, let me group them into three large categories:

Mental Exhaustion: from coping with new information, learning new skills. sifting through fact and fake…

Emotional Exhaustion: from too many feels, too often, in a roller-coaster fashion — abetted by our information overload, Instagram expectations, and pithy motivational quotes.

Medical Exhaustion: a whole host of conditions contribute to physical fatigue which over time makes us feel easily exhausted, from sleep apnea to heart disease, diabetes, UTI, Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism.

These are things we all deal with to varying degrees in the different seasons of our lives, as we transition to new roles, take on new relational commitments such as getting hitched, and expect new rewards.

The human race has always been a tired lot.

“All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
(God to Adam, Genesis 3, NLT Bible)

Of course, it is by no means a joyless existence. But the truth is, life is hard.

And since the day in 2020 when the WHO declared that we are in a Pandemic, we have layered on more causes for exhaustion.