How to Avoid Fatigue at Work
Let’s face it – living the 9-to-5 lifestyle can get draining and tiring from time to time. You wake up between 6AM and 7AM, get to work by 8:45AM after sitting in peak hour traffic for over an hour. You follow your morning routine at work and have a little chat with your colleagues over coffee. The coffee makes you feel alert for the first couple of hours and you manage to get through a lot of productive work. And then just when you’re about to get into the “Ugh, why is today so slow?!” mindset, it’s lunch time and you get to wake up a little bit.
The real struggle is still to come, though. At 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when your food is sitting comfortably in your stomach, you feel warm and find yourself slumping into the chair. Your eyes feel heavy and no matter how many times you squeeze and blink them, the invisible little weights pulling down on your eyelids don’t seem to budge. You can’t stop yawning and you turn to your colleague and say, “Why am I so tired?” All you’re thinking about is how heavy your body feels and the fact that you just don’t have the mental energy, motivation or concentration to do anything that you need to do. The meeting at 4PM? Forget about it.
Why do you feel this way?
Before you move onto finding out how to prevent fatigue at work, first consider some of the reasons you feel that tired. Have you done a lot of physical activity recently that your body is not used to? Did you not get enough sleep the night before? Is it particularly cold outside today? Is there something going on in your life that is mentally exhausting? Are you sick of your place of employment? Understanding your fatigue in context will help you take the next steps to reduce these symptoms and feel more energised at work.
First things first, see your doctor.
Fatigue can be a symptom of a serious underlying health issue. Practice caution when it comes to your body and health, and seek medical advice from your GP. And even without the concern of having a serious illness, your doctor will be able to help you identify the causes of your fatigue and a number of methods to overcome it.
Address your mental health.
According to Better Health (VIC), there is evidence suggesting that “between 50 and 80 per cent of fatigue causes are mainly due to psychological factors.” You could be unusually stressed because of an event or a significant change in your life such as moving house or a divorce. Positive events like weddings can be a cause of stress too, so consider things in your personal life or work that are putting a lot of pressure on you. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can also be causes of fatigue.
Now that you know to seek professional help or to look deep within your emotions to address what your fatigue could be stemming from, let’s see some of the things you can do to help kick fatigue at work.
1. Drink lots of water.
Feeling dehydrated can make your body feel tired. When you feel tired at work, try having a glass of water.
2. Take a break.
Have you been concentrating on a project without a proper break for a few hours? Give your brain some time to relax.
3. Go for a walk.
Spending a lot of time sitting down can make you feel tired. Stretch those legs and go for a little walk away from your desk. Or go for a walk at lunch. Even if you packed lunch for work, join a colleague to the shops to get takeaway lunch.
4. Talk about it.
If a project you’re working on or a deadline you have to meet is adding stress and fatigue to your day, talk about it with your colleagues and let it out.
5. Tell a joke.
Adding laughter to your day can alleviate negative emotions. Have a giggle with your colleagues and reduce the stress and pressure you’re feeling.
6. Put down the coffee.
Too much caffeine can make you feel more tired. Don’t try to beat your fatigue with more caffeine. Try reducing the amount of coffee you drink in the morning as well.
7. Don’t eat too much at lunch.
Avoid having too much food in one sitting and spread it out throughout the work day. Eating more frequently can give you a boost of energy.
8. Eat healthy.
Give your body a balanced combination of nutrients and feel more energised. For snacks, have fruits and vegetables like carrot sticks.
Close your eyes at your desk and just clear your head for a couple of minutes. Drown out the noises and the worrying and concerning thoughts in your head.
Among the above things you can do on the spot when you feel tired at work, there are some general changes you can make in your daily lifestyle to help prevent fatigue. Keeping a healthy body and mind makes you significantly less prone to experiencing fatigue. Getting an adequate amount of sleep (generally 7-8 hours) and ensuring that you have quality sleep can also help reduce the symptoms of fatigue.
Increasing activity levels in your life can also help. If you can’t find the time to commit to going to the gym or a fitness class, then try taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk instead of driving. If you’re getting takeaway food for dinner, pick it up instead of getting it delivered. Exercises like yoga are also said to boost your energy levels and help you sleep better.
There are a lot of resources available on fatigue, its symptoms and how to manage it at work. Take a look at the list of resources below for more information!
- Fatigue: Why Am I So Tired? – Medical News Today
- Fighting Fatigue with Diet – Psychology Today
- Fatigue Fighting Tips – Better Health Channel
- Fatigue Management – A Worker’s Guide (Download docx or pdf) – Safe Work Australia
- Work-Related Fatigue – WorkCover Quensland