It’s the last stretch of 2022, Mzansi. If you are finding it difficult to concentrate or having a tough time getting started in the morning, you are not alone. Many South Africans are suffering from year-end fatigue and just need a break to recharge their batteries.
Thato Gaoboihi for one is ready to close the chapter this year. For the past few weeks, this Kimberley mom has found it harder to get out of bed every morning this season.
“I can confidently say that this year has been the most challenging year that I can remember having in a while. Mentally, physically, and financially, it has been an extremely draining year filled with self-doubt, sadness and pity,” she laments.
“I sometimes wonder if it is because we have come back from being closed off to going back to a sense of normalcy that we kind of weren’t prepared for emotionally and financially, in terms of the increases and the state of the economy and our salaries not meeting that.”
If you start noticing that your mental and physical demands exceed your capacity to execute or exceed your available internal resources, that’s the first big sign of year-end fatigue, explains Gauteng clinical psychologist Kelebogile Mojanaga.
What is year-end fatigue?
There are so many definitions of fatigue on the internet, but the definitions are often one-dimensional, says Mojanaga.
According to Mojanaga, symptoms and signs of year-end fatigue can include:
- Lack of motivation to wake up on time for work
- Late completion of work tasks
- Dreading to go to work
- Late coming
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or hyposomnia)
- Decreased concentration levels
- Short attention span
Mojanaga says that these are just some of the few symptoms to look out for. “It is important that you still seek professional medical advice if you suspect you might be experiencing prolonged periods of fatigue, especially if it interferes with your ability to function at your usual capacity, more so in the workplace.”
How to keep motivated
As you try to fit in time to finish the work year strong, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, says Kimberley clinical psychologist Nkamogeleng Motswage.
“Fatigue in the workplace is mostly caused by extended work hours, work pressure, shortage of staff, toxic working environments, etc. Fatigue in the workplace is an issue as it may result in low output, unproductivity, absenteeism, depression, and high rates of resignation.”
He shares five basic guidelines for dealing with year-end fatigue:
- Taking rest when most needed is very important.
- Do things you enjoy and also try new things. Psychotherapy also plays a huge role.
- Build and maintain a strong support with loved ones.
- Set realistic goals and work to achieve them without pressure.
Burnout vs year-end fatigue
According to Motswage, it is difficult to get rid of a medical condition that you don’t know you have, and that is often the case with burnout. He says that most people with burnout do not even know that they have the debilitating last stage of chronic stress until their health lets them know that there is something seriously wrong.
“Burnout is characterised by feeling empty and mentally exhausted, lack of motivation and caring. Therefore, fatigue can be understood to be a major symptom of burnout,” he says.
Burnout is when one accumulates stress from their daily life activities to a point where they struggle to cope with the demands of their overall environment, because of the physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion, explains Mojanaga.
“Fatigue is also exhaustion at these three levels of functioning, however, with burnout, it often develops after long extended periods of stress, and is not just a result of lack of rest, but also a result of chronic stress that has not been treated. To resolve burnout, one would need rest and interventions to relieve stress.”
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