Fatigue at work is a widespread concern. A study by The Global Corporate Challenge called Waking Up to the Sleep Problem Every Employer is Facing found that 1 in 5 people are sleep deprived.
Johannesburg-based workplace psychologist Leah Gous notes that if unmanaged, lack of sleep can lead to increased stress, fatigue, poor productivity, burnout, and depression.
Lifestyle interventions like following a healthy eating and exercise plan and making sure you get six to eight hours sleep a night are crucial, notes Fred Ralston, former president of the American College of Physicians and contributor to WebMd, as is visiting your doctor to make sure that you don’t have an underlying medical condition such as heart disease or anaemia.
Added to that, small hacks at work can help create an environment that combats fatigue.
Try these tips:
- Make friends with water.
A Gensler NextGen study found that dehydration is one of the biggest sources of fatigue. Many people simply don’t drink their recommended dose of eight glasses a day, but making sure that you have access to filtered water can help. A great idea is to make a visual cue for drinking water such as a placing a water bottle or jug on permanent display on your desk.
- Get a plant.
Research conducted by environmental psychologists from Sweden and Norway found that having a pot plant in the office reduced fatigue, stress, headaches, and even dry skin amongst workers, and the more plants the better the results. They even drew a direct link between the more plants they saw in an office from their study of 385 workers and a reduction in the amount of sick leave days people took.
- Get more natural light
Not sitting near or within reach of a window during the day can interfere with your body’s internal clock, cause disturbed sleep, and reduce your quality of life, according to a study by Northwestern Medicine.
While we can’t all get the window seat, increasing your exposure to natural light can help. The researchers suggest going outside as much as you can during the day, whether you eat your lunch outside, take little breaks throughout the day, or go as far as having your meetings on the grass outside your office. As long as it’s outdoors and you’re exposed to natural light as much as you are able, this can have a significant improvement on the quality of your sleep.
- Reduce environmental pollution where possible.
Loud noise, stale air, irregular temperatures, and other factors can aggravate fatigue in the workplace notes Gensler On Work, a company which examines workplace design and how it contributes to health. Where possible, try to encourage neutral temperatures and noise levels.
If it isn’t possible for you to regulate the temperature in your office, consider bringing in a small desk fan (if the office is too hot), getting noise cancelling headphones, and getting a plant for your desk to help freshen the air.
- Take frequent breaks.
Every hour or so, try to give yourself a break. Go for a walk or have some water. Try to have your lunch away from your desk if you can.
- Listen to music.
Music distracts people from fatigue, elevates mood, increases endurance, and reduces perceived effort during a workout, according to Scientific American. While most research between fatigue and music has been in connection with exercise.
WebMd notes that listening to music has been found to distract you from feelings of fatigue, and boost mood, great reasons to listen to your favourite music on your MP3 player at work.
- Maintain regular work hours.
While occasional overtime may be required, it shouldn’t become the norm. Try to keep routine work hours if possible. Arriving very early and leaving very late can lead to a cycle of exhaustion, notes Gous.
Use these easy hacks to help make your workplace an environment that boosts energy, instead of one that saps it. But remember, the best tools in your armoury against fatigue will always be get more sleep and exercise, and to follow a healthy diet. Simple hacks, certainly, but ones with the best results.