Workday fatigue is an actual underlying epidemic.
Research published in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic reported that almost half of U.S. employees (48%) feel mental and physical fatigue by the end of the workday. To top that one, almost 1/3 of remote workers report feeling drained and in low-energy more so than not.
The data is vast, and it mostly points to the same issue - a sedentary lifestyle takes more physical and mental toll than that of runners or farmers. And to make things super counterintuitive, you feel more exhausted after a day sitting than pushing through a 21-Miller.
Truth be told, most of us are starting to accept these facts. But it is contrary to what we humans believed for a long time.
Rewind a tape five or six decades back, and you’d see folks dreaming of delicate pen and paperwork somewhere in a fine, glass-framed, 20-store corporate building with a cigarette in their hands. Due to some hard labor folks back then endured and an HC tobacco propaganda, they would have laughed their unseated buttocks off at the notion of “unhealthy sitting” or “office work fatigue”.
If only they knew of the devil in disguise.
How do we fatigue from work?
Work fatigue is a feeling of lack of energy or motivation associated with or caused by work. Job satisfaction, in this occurring instance, is just something you accidentally read about on the internet - not a prevailing notion.
Workplace fatigue is a normal response to stressful and challenging work and usually goes along with the following symptoms:
- Afternoon drowsiness (can be caused by other things too)
- Apathy, or in other words, giving zero love-making
- Lack of sleep
- Feeling like anything but work
- Eating out everything and your fork (or extreme other, lack of appetite)
In the context of physically demanding jobs, your fatigue from work manifests in, well... mainly physical exhaustion. It's caused by heavy tasks, working in extreme environments (hot, cold, windy, etc.), working night shifts... If you’re coming back home from these conditions, we think you're already well aware of the causes.
Remote work fatigue or office work fatigue is something else. More subtle to say the least. It arises from the stress at work, repetitive duties that don't engage that wonderful brain of yours, lack of fun and chit-chatting with friends and colleagues, and... drum roll… forever sitting in your couch-like chair, moving your neck only when switching from screen 1 to screen 2, and looking like someone’s tossed a lazy bag on top of an office chair. The sedentary lifestyle, chairman - it’s no good for you. The only prolific thing about sitting in this position endlessly is the number of clicks your finger snaps.
Fatigued from work or something else?
Before we provide you with the “right advice” we better make sure you’re not fighting allergies with a diarrhea treatment.
#1 Just Fatigue
Indeed, just fatigue blends nicely with work fatigue, but it doesn't mean you should blame it all on work. Your common fatigue is caused by the lack of proper sleep, bad nutrition, emotional stress, or excess physical activity.
When Etna, the volcano that brought down the ancient city of Pompey, erupted, it first gave warning signs - earthquakes and swollen ground. It then spat stones and breathed out smoke right before it was about to go all-in on magma. However, some volcanos leave it at “warning signs” - they breathe smoke, shake a little, and decide not to explode.
Well… volcano shaking is just like fatigue, and you could parallel burnout with massive magma eruptions. Burnout is a more severe form of work fatigue that needs your immediate reaction.
A 5-step plan to keep work fatigue at bay
#1 Take care of health basics
For starters, make sure your body and brain are taken care of - properly. It will exclude the possibility of common fatigue sneaking into your work life.
- Squeeze in 6-8 hours of sleep
- Find time to relax
- Take walks, jog, exercise - whatever gets you to move
- Eat nutritious food
- Drink enough water
- Reduce stimulants (TV, phone, cigarettes, alcohol)
#2 Take exercise breaks
Your fatigued brain and seated body crave movement and proper rest. When the hips get tight and your thinking starts drifting into dream states, it’s time to take active rest. That's what the Wakeout app was built for.
While regular exercise after work hours is good for you, your body still suffers from prolonged sitting. In a cross-sectional study carried out by J Lifestyle Med, results showed that office workers sit around 6:30 hours on average during their shifts. Sadly, as much as 73.6% reported feeling exhausted during the workday, and a notable amount suffered from high blood pressure and heightened cholesterol levels.
To counter-attack the damaging effects of being stuck to a chair, your body needs to break the static patterns - with therapeutic effects of movement, dancing, light boxing, couch stretches, desk stands, and all out-of-this-worldly fun movements. The point of exercise breaks is not to distract you from the task at hand - no, no. It is to give your soul a well-deserved 3-minute break and see the fatigue waving white flags only a few days in.
#3 Change the environment
We humans don’t like spending too much time in one place - play it back, and remember the collective heartfelt cheerlessness during the pandemic. Didn’t feel at all great, did it?
Whenever you notice the fatigue intensifying, remember to refresh your mind with a change in environment. It is precisely what your mind needs - a novelty.
#4 Or should you optimize the environment?
Both will do. Change is good, but optimization might do the trick to supercharge your work batteries. Schedule a date, make no excuses, put the green gloves on, and prepare a list of office or work areas you wish to improve.
Focus to remove the clutter and increase motivation. And get going - optimize to every last detail.
#5 Let the right people know
Maybe what you crave is a simple word of encouragement. An understanding, a willing ear, and mouth to give you food for thought or a way to solve a problem.
You could let your significant other, your friends, and even your psychologist know of your fatigue - they have a track record of giving solid pointers. But, if it often occurs, you could also let your superiors know you’re struggling - they are the ones who can help you reshape the details in your work environment.