Fatigue: On the Road to Burnout

Fatigue is more than just feeling tired and drowsy. It can be described as a state of mental and physical exhaustion which impacts on your ability to be effective at work, home or socially.

Fatigue happens when you do too much without getting enough proper rest. It is your body’s way of communicating that you need rest. When you feel the signs of exhaustion, it is time to stop and take notice.

There is much written about the physical impacts of fatigue, such as: injuries sustained from mistakes made operating heavy machinery or running off the road while driving. Fatigue makes you less alert resulting in you making mistakes you would not normally make when fully rested. Your alertness response times are impeded meaning you cannot react quickly to remove yourself from danger.

Fatigue causes you to not only be a danger to yourself, but also to those around you. Your actions while fatigued can cause injury or illness to anyone you connect with daily. Fatigue even impacts on your quality of life.

Mental fatigue though is harder to recognise but just as important, if not more so. It is when you are no longer able to focus on the task at hand. You lose concentration and your lack of judgement causes you to take unnecessary risks leading to costly mistakes and bad decisions.

In addition, you find yourself in a position of forgetting the tiniest things which are normally at the front of your mind. Your usual robust problem solving becomes more challenging. As a result, you find yourself becoming less productive and ineffective both at work and home.

Symptoms of fatigue may not be obvious to you at first. So, how do you know if you, or someone in your life, is experiencing fatigue? The following signs are an indication only and if these become too frequent you should seek medical advice from your doctor.

  • Regularly falling asleep or frequently yawning;
  • Difficulty concentrating on the smallest, simplest details
  • Short term memory loss;
  • Inability to join in on conversations
  • Behavioural change e.g. Irritable, quicker to anger, sudden bursts of emotion;
  • An increase in unplanned absence from work;
  • Always arriving late to appointments, events and meetings;
  • Lapse in judgement or inability to make good decisions;
  • Reflexes, response times and reaction times are slow.

When left untreated, fatigue can lead to longer term chronic illness or disease such as: heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, lowered immune system, intestine problems, low fertility, headaches, drowsiness, anxiety and depression. In some cases fatigue can lead to changes in appetite, weight gain or weight loss. Eventually, if not addressed and managed, can lead to burnout.

Take the two minute busting burnout quiz to find out if you are on the verge of burnout.

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