Are you exhausted? Do you find it hard to concentrate? Does it seem you are forever struggling onward through the fog, and the very thought of the challenges each day brings makes you want to crawl back under the bed covers and pretend the sun never rose?
You’re not alone. Exhaustion is not a new phenomenon, and in the world today millions suffer in varying degrees from mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Physicians have been studying, diagnosing, and treating this malady for millennia. Acute fatigue is an undeniable part of human history. However, the stresses of today’s lifestyle don’t help. Increased job demands, social media, and concerns for the state of the earth in general only add to recurring energy depletion for many.
Exhaustion in the Workplace
Suffering symptoms of exhaustion have become a reason for workplace safety concerns. Some companies have added awareness programs to try to stop fatigue-related injuries and illness. Not only physically challenging careers, but mentally and emotionally stressful jobs can result in decreased efficiency and loss of manpower.
Causes of Fatigue on the Job
Being aware of your own limitations is one way to stop exhaustion from progressing out of control. Extended or rotating shifts can disrupt normal sleep patterns, resulting in increased stress levels and lower levels of concentration. Simply stated, not getting enough sleep can make you too tired to function at the top of your game. Even knowing this, many professionals will push themselves to the breaking point to meet the demands of their chosen career.
For some, prolonged working hours may also mean overexposure to unsafe levels of noise, chemicals, or other hazardous conditions. The government often requires businesses to monitor and limit exposure for the safety of employees. Working under the influence of extreme fatigue can be especially hazardous for healthcare providers, first responders, or those who work with heavy equipment or in the food industry.
These are only a few of the workplaces which must endeavor to recognize and stop exhaustion from compromising the safety of both workers and those they serve. Fatigue can greatly increase the chances of injuries on the job a well as the chances of accidents on the road to and from work.
How to Stop Exhaustion on the Job
For many, changing or improving work schedules can go a long way to restoring the body’s natural rhythms for sleep and lessening stress. Reasonable shifts help make work more enjoyable and production demands easier to meet. Eating habits may also improve when adequate time is given for meals, increasing the body’s ability to maintain concentration and energy levels.
Other ways to help combat workplace fatigue is to provide proper lighting, control noise levels, and keep indoor work environments at a comfortable temperature and humidity. Programs to help deal with interpersonal relationships in the workplace may also be helpful in combating work-related emotional fatigue.
Mental and Emotional Exhaustion
Do you feel continually overwhelmed, drained both physically and mentally? Does it seem like you will never be able to rise above the demands of your current responsibilities or problems? You may be suffering from acute mental fatigue, and once again you are not alone.
Mental fatigue can be accompanied by a sense of detachment or apathy both at work and in your personal life. Some call this type of exhaustion ‘burn out.’ While the term is not an official one, it can certainly describe that feeling of having used up every personal capacity to creatively and patiently cope with life’s incessant demands.
Reading the Signs
There can be a variety of symptoms of mental fatigue. Different people handle stress in different ways, and everyone has their own way of showing the cracks in their mental composure. There can be mental, emotional, and physical signs. Your friends may notice the signs before you do. Some possible signs may be:
- Feelings of dread
- Upset stomach
- Lack of motivation
- Change of appetite
- Social withdrawal
There are many other symptoms, but if you are experiencing several of the above, it may be time to act on your own or seek counseling. The daily stresses of raising children, being a full-time caregiver, or experiencing a major breakdown in an important relationship can all trigger mental exhaustion. There is help on a number of levels, so you don’t have to endure alone.
Give Yourself a Break
There are as many sources of relief as there are sources of stress. To stop exhaustion from dictating your success or failure in life, it’s important to identify your main source or sources of ongoing fatigue. Do you need to consider a new job? Is there anyone who can relieve you of some of your responsibilities so that you can take a break, even for a few hours a week? Removing the stressor is the number one way to begin recovering from chronic fatigue.
There’s Rest for the Weary
Besides removing yourself from as many overly stressful environments as possible, or at least providing yourself with some downtime to rest and recover, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to regain mental acuity and recharge energy levels. You can’t escape all the pressures of life, but you can take steps to enable your body and mind to handle whatever may come.
One important way to control daily feelings of tiredness is by eating a balanced diet. Cut out sweet snacks and soda, excess alcohol, or skipping too many meals. Eat healthy or stress-relieving snacks when needed, and plan a diet rich in all the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.
Exercise is important to overall health. If possible, spend at least 30 minutes per day exercising, even if it’s just a walk in the sunshine. In fact, studies have shown that moderate exercise can significantly increase energy levels, especially for those whose jobs and lifestyle are otherwise sedentary.
Taking a nap may be helpful, but make sure it does not interfere with your regular bedtime. It’s best not to indulge in more than a 20-30 minute nap early in the day. A nap may be especially useful if you find yourself faced with a long work shift or other obligations. Coupling your nap with healthy, protein-rich snacks can also boost your energy for an extra few hours when needed.
Check stress at your front door
Does the thought of going home make you more relaxed or more anxious? Make your home a more stress-free environment. Studies have shown that a person’s living space can either add to or take away the stress. Research ways to make your home more calming, restful place. Look for ways to bring in more natural light. Add live plants. If necessary, create a private space that is off limits to others.
Setting a consistent sleep schedule can help increase the amount and quality of rest during your downtime. This is especially important if you work a night shift. Purposely set aside 7.5-8 hours of sleep each day. Darken the room as much as possible and remove the artificial light of TV or electronic devices. You can train your body to know when it’s time to shut down for sleep. Your body and brain depend on this rest to stay alert and active when needed.
Spend some “me time”
Take time to relax with a book, music, or a calming herbal tea, especially near bedtime. Breathing exercises can help prepare your body and mind for rest. Essential oils may be helpful as either an inhalant or for massage. A little research can help you find the most popular oils for soothing your frazzled nerves and relieving stress.
A little help from your friends
Socializing with friends and family can also help relieve stress and restore peace of mind. Try small get-togethers without excessive noise or entertaining demands. You may be able to find a support group in your area. Isolation is a major contributor to mental fatigue.
Get a Professional Opinion
It’s important to rule out any possible health reasons for ongoing chronic fatigue. Some possible issues could be:
- High blood pressure
- Cancer or cancer treatments
- Vitamin or mineral deficiency
- Medication side-effects
Your primary care physician may be able to recommend different allergy medications or changes to your daily regimen to get you back on track. A regular physical will help you and your doctor monitor for warning signs of potential health issues.
Millions of people across the world experience near-debilitating fatigue on a daily basis. Exhaustion in soul and body is a world epidemic. Are you feeling it too? If so, you should know that you are not alone in your struggles. Physicians and scientists the world over continue to research ways to help humanity overcome and stay energized and alert.