Exercise, sleep and healthy ways to relax can help with exhaustion
Coping mechanisms to deal with year-end fatigue
Overwhelmed, irritable, anxious, tired and distracted. These are the general symptoms of year-end fatigue, with employees going through the motions and no real satisfaction.
Clinical psychologist Dr Colinda Linde from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group says fatigue is something most people will experience at some point in their lives.
“Studies show that it affects 30% – 50% of the general population.”
By the end of the year, many people are tired from work or school and would experience additional demands from either end ofyear deadlines or exams. Dr Linde says these, coupled with the current high levels of uncertainty such as power outages alongside the global political and economic upheaval would add stressors to daily lives.
Dr Linde further explains that the stress is a result of being consistently triggered into fight or flight without enough renewal activity to counter it. “After a year of daily activation, you can imagine the brain and body are feeling the effects. Like when you’re running a marathon and there are a few sprints in the middle, you can have water and food breaks, but eventually you do need to stop and take a proper rest.”
Netcare Akeso’s crisis line and marketing manager, Megan Gonsalves, however, cautions that it is important to distinguish between the end of the year fatigue, “which occurs specifically at this time of year, and something that could be a mood or anxiety disorder or burnout, which are not time-bound”.
When trying to manage year-end fatigue, healthy lifestyle choices are a great place to start. Gonsalves says a balanced diet, exercise, enough sleep and finding healthy ways to relax and de-stress, “go a long way towards positively influencing the reaction to stressful times”,
She, however, advises against excessive alcohol and caffeine intake as this could worsen some of the feelings.
For employers whose staff may be experiencing fatigue, it is important to understand the circumstances of the employee and provide support where possible.
“Support could be offered through external parties and if you have an employee wellness programme, this is a good time to remind your employees of the services offered and how to access these resources,” says Gonsalves.
Gonsalves shares a few coping mechanisms to deal with year-end fatigue, especially for those who are new to the concept.
- Focus on the positives. Actively appreciate the good things you have in your life and be thankful for your relationships.
- Breathe and seek support. When you feel overwhelmed, take a moment and take a breath. Focus on being in the moment and where you currently are, rather than being unnecessarily anxious about things that may still come. Seek additional support if you feel you need it.
- Participate in things that you enjoy. Use your weekends and evenings, and any time off, to do things you enjoy and that are important to you outside work or school.
- Manage your time and stress. Keep using the systems that have worked for you for time and work management and adjust where needed for the anticipated higher workloads.
- Prioritise important tasks. This can help to make the workload feel more manageable. Track your successes and remind yourself of what you have already achieved this year too.
- Set boundaries. Learn to say no, if necessary, especially to requests that will unnecessarily extend you beyond your resources.
- Ensure you prioritise rest. Take breaks when needed and use your downtime to relax and recharge.
Gonsalves reiterates that year-end fatigue is a reality for many and the impact can show in one’s personal and work life.
“Remember to be kind to yourself and others and try to remain positive. Implementing positive coping mechanisms and ensuring a good work-life balance can help. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reaching out for professional help is always an option,” she says.
Cipla Mental Health Helpline 0800 456 789/ WhatsApp 076 882 2775 / SMS 31393. Netcare Akeso’s 24-hour crisis line 0861 435 787
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