5 Ways to Bounce Back From Workplace Fatigue

Woman Sleeping at Work

AdobeStock / bnenin

AnnaMarie Houlis
AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger

Feeling too tired to work? You're not alone.

"Fatigue is a lingering tiredness that is constant and limiting," according to Web MD. "With fatigue, you have unexplained, persistent, and relapsing exhaustion. It's similar to how you feel when you have the flu or have missed a lot of sleep. If you have chronic fatigue, or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID), you may wake in the morning feeling as though you've not slept. Or you may be unable to function at work or be productive at home. You may be too exhausted even to manage your daily affairs."

In fact, 35% of Americans don’t get the recommended seven hours of sleep each night; instead, they get an average of 6.8 hours of sleep each night, according to research from The Good Body.

What causes extreme tiredness?

Wondering, Why am I always tired and have no energy? There are tons of reasons why you might feel exhausted. It can stem from too much exercise to a poor diet with too few nutrients to stress to underlying health conditions like anemia or rhinitis.

Extreme tiredness is partly because roughly 20% of Americans have a sleep disorder like insomnia (60 million), sleep apnea (22 million), restless leg syndrome (12 million) and REM sleep behavior disorder (three million).

Meanwhile, others who have trouble sleeping may struggle with depression; three-quarters of those who suffer from depression suffer from a lack of sleep. And others might be coping with pain; about 20% of American adults with pain or physical discomfort struggled with disrupted sleep at least a few nights a week.

And then, of course, there are those who are simply burned out at work and, therefore, have trouble sleeping because they can't turn their heads off when they get in bed or because they're working late or odd hours and don't have time to sleep. In fact, according to a recent Gallup study of almost 7,500 full-time employees, 23% of employees report feeling burned out at work either very often or always. An additional 44% report feeling burned out at least sometimes. This means that about two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout while at work.

Whatever causes people to lose sleep, sleep deprivation can affect people's health, wellbeing and productivity, which means that it has far-reaching and costly economic consequences. Sleep deprivation costs the US $411 billion annually, according to The Good Body. The research suggests that, if people sleep just one extra hour per night, it could add over $200 billion to the United States economy.

But the reality is that, sometimes, there's just not enough hours in the day to get everything you need to do done and get to bed at a normal hour so you can get adequate sleep. And so, sometimes, you're just plain tired.

What are the symptoms of exhaustion?

The symptoms of exhaustion vary by person. 

What can you do when you're too tired to work?

If you're too tired to work, here are five steps you can take to wake yourself up.

1. Meditate.

If you're too tired to work, take a few minutes to sit and meditate. You can simply close your eyes, which will feel good if you're feeling exhausted anyway. Then meditate on your intentions for the day — whether that's getting a certain task done, keeping your eyes open until 5 p.m. or making it through an afternoon meeting. You can listen to audio meditations via apps like Aaptiv or Headspace (or YouTube!), or you can just meditate on your own for a few moments. You only have to do it for a few minutes to help you focus on being present and grounded, which should help you to get your work done.

2. Exercise.

A wealth of research suggests that exercise can help to wake you up in the morning. While it may seem impossible to get up and get out to work out, if you can manage to motivate yourself, you'll reap the benefits. Exercising releases endorphins, which can revitalize you. And you don't even need to go crazy, especially if you don't have the time. Just take a walk around the block or do some yoga stretches if that's all you can squeeze in. The point is to simply start moving your body.

3. Drink some tea.

Drink some tea, like matcha, to get yourself up. Matcha is proven to have a slower release of caffeine that'll keep you awake longer than coffee without the jitters or the crash. Plus, there are tons of other health benefits to drinking matcha, like keeping your heart healthy, keeping your skin rejuvenated, fighting cancer, boosting your metabolism and more, for example. When you're healthy, the better quality sleep you'll get, as well. Nevermind that matcha has been associated with improving memory and concentration, which undoubtedly helps your workplace productivity and performance.

4. Have a coffee.

If you're an avid coffee drinker and aren't a big fan of tea, have yourself a cup. We don't recommend drinking too much coffee, as it can have some adverse side effects. But enjoying a cup from your favorite cafe to kickstart your day can go a long way. If you have to walk down to the cafe to pick up the coffee (as opposed to drinking the coffee in the office kitchen), that could help get you up and moving, too. 

5. Check off the little things.

If you feel like you just can't get your work done, start by tackling the little tasks that'll take way less mental and/or physical energy to do. For example, if you have emails to which you can be responding or a messy desk that you really should be organizing, then start there. Once you are able to start drawing lines through your to-do list for the day, it'll motivate you to keep on going to bigger, more important tasks. And, besides, a clean work space will motivate you, as well!

Don’t miss out on articles like these. Sign up!


AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.