03 Mar Fatigue: What causes it and how can we beat it?
There are times when we all feel fatigued, but what exactly is fatigue? What causes it? And how do we beat it? Fatigue can be described in a variety of ways. At HBA Learning Centres HQ we agreed that fatigue is the ‘physical and/or mental exhaustion that can be triggered by stress, medication, overwork, or mental and physical illness or disease’ (The Free Dictionary, 2016). A curt definition for a state that can have a profound effect on us directly, or indirectly via those suffering fatigue we may live and work with.
Fatigue can be so acute and debilitating it can make life seem all too hard. In a mining context in can be life threatening, causing us to disregard critical policies and procedures. Many instances of workplace death and injury are attributed to fatigue; perhaps you have seen or experienced an incident yourself? If you have let us know in the comments below!
The causes of fatigue are so varied it becomes difficult to pin point major contributors, however common factors are:
- Stress: Medical practitioners argue there is a direct link between stress and insomnia. The more stressed you are, the less you will sleep and the less you sleep the more stressed you will Adding to this, stress is mentally draining which increases fatigue even more.
- Medication: The side effects of some more known medication have been found to cause fatigue, including; blood pressure medication, antihistamines, antidepressants, antibiotics and even some diuretics.
- Overworked: Gone are days where we work 9-5, we work to task pressures and production deadlines. Your working environment, time of day and time on shift, such as FIFO, shift hours, and shift-work can have a huge impact on your physical and mental state.
- Depression and Anxiety: Depression creates a complete loss of energy for individuals, and the energy which is left is spent on coping mechanisms to get through the day. Anxiety is similar; simply fighting anxiety tires the body which often results in chronic fatigue.
- Alcohol: According to Harvard University studies, alcohol has been linked to worsened sleep-related issues. These issues range from an increase in epinephrine (a stress hormone), breathing problems, and sleep apnoea. Not to mention the increased need to urinate during the night – disrupting your REM sleep.
- Unknown medical conditions: Many medical conditions go unnoticed as symptoms may be misinterpreted or unknown to you. These range from physical conditions such as a thyroid deficiency, to mental conditions including the previously mentioned anxiety and depression.
Thus ensues the question “how do we beat fatigue?”
Every individual has a unique formula of contributing factors to fatigue and a different response to, thus remedies will vary accordingly. We wanted to test this notion, so we asked our staff here at HBA Learning Centres how they have beaten fatigue before. The answers were surprisingly varied and conflicting. Some said more sleep, less sleep, too much food and not enough food… The list goes on!
Whilst it is recommended individuals seeks assistance to more appropriately understand their circumstances and therefore seek the best solution, the following offers a rough guide to common approaches to overcome fatigue:
- Consider your diet; is it possible you are not having sufficient nutritional value in your daily intake? If your diet consists of fried or take away fast food then perhaps you might like to consult a dietician, they will recommend any changes they feel will assist you.
- Do you drink enough water? Staying hydrated is important to maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day. Also, try to minimise the amount coffee consumption as it can have adverse effects on your body. It dehydrates you and causes an energy slump after the caffeine has worn off.
- Are you living a balanced lifestyle or, as does occur when one is living away from home, have you got yourself into a repeatable lifestyle where balance has long left your daily regimen? Living a happy balanced lifestyle will reduce stress and anxiety.
- Do you exercise regularly? Studies have proven that regular exercise increases energy and reduces fatigue. It also releases endorphins throughout the body giving you that ‘feel good’ sensation which can help further combat stress, depression and anxiety.
- Are you getting enough sleep? Each of us needs a different amount of sleep, if you have gone into sleep deficit then this can definitely lead to fatigue.
There are many other causes of fatigue and you are well advised to research the subject in order that you can identify any signs that may appear in you or those you work with. If you believe you may be suffering from fatigue we urge you to contact your medical practitioner, they are professionally trained to aid you.
Learn more on fatigue with our Work Health and Safety courses.
Make the better choice with HBA Learning Centres!
Disclaimer: If you are experiencing fatigue HBA Learning Centres strongly recommends you seek advice from a professional. This article is designed for educational purposes only and is not to be used as medical advice.