Identifying what truly fatigues you is imperative to finding solutions. Fatigue and burnout appear to be affecting many people these days. At first, it is easy to blame our work situation, demands placed upon us by other people, or life circumstances. While these factors contribute to fatigue, I do not believe they necessarily represent root causes.
Fatigue is always attributable to a cause. Until we understand and deal with the cause, we will not find relief.
This is the second blog in a series on fatigue. The first blog encouraged you to consider the cycles in your life that feeds your fatigue. Today, I want to consider what drives fatigue.
Pardon the pun, but I get tired of feeling fatigued. I focus on projects and fill my calendar. The next thing I realize is that I am losing energy and feeling demotivated. A season of productivity slips into a season of passivity. A passive and unproductive life has a way of perpetuating itself in a manner that kills our ambition and burdens those who have to work with us.
Like you, my life requires all 24 hours in each day. As my schedule and commitments fill up, I have a propensity to begin cutting out the things that help alleviate fatigue. After all, how much sleep, exercise, spending time with family, or a hobby does a person need? While we might have a tendency to grind through and ignore the signs of fatigue, it is not a sustainable plan.
Effective time management requires an understanding of how much is too much. If we do not hold the line on our activity, fatigue slips in and finds a foothold. Since fatigue is so prevalent, I decided to dive into this topic. I found a couple short articles written by the staff of the Mayo Clinic. The first article provided a nice definition of fatigue. I found the ending sentence encouraging:
“Chances are you know what’s causing your fatigue. And with a few simple lifestyle changes, it’s likely that you have the power to put the vitality back in your life.”
Yes, this provided some encouragement, I do not necessarily agree with this conclusion. I think symptoms are easy to identify, but root causes are much more difficult to isolate, let alone make the necessarily steps to address.
The writers follow this article with a second article on the causes of fatigue.
The article attributes fatigue to three general areas:
- Lifestyle factors
- Psychological problems
- Medical conditions
I do not want to repeat the content of this article, but it does provide us with a starting point. Psychological problems and medical conditions can be quite challenging and may require professional diagnosis and treatment. Lifestyle changes may appear to be more easily addressed, but can be just as tricky. The cause may be obvious, but is it the real cause that drives fatigue?
Today’s workforce provides one illustration for my point where people are working longer hours with fewer resources. This can present a significant problem, but the solution may not be limited to cutting back hours or investing more resources. If a job represents work an employee is not wired and trained to do, he or she will experience fatigue. On the reverse side, some employees are bored because they have non-challenging or unrewarding jobs. This too may contribute to fatigue. In either case, this gets us a little closer to the root causes of fatigue.
Fatigue is a warning sign. My inquiry into the issue of fatigue leads me to conclude that much of our fatigue is attributable to lifestyle patterns that are not congruent with our intrinsic motivations. Without this alignment, we will never be able to make the contributions we are capable of achieving or enjoy the rewards of a job well-done. In the next blogs in this series, I will illustrate this point further.
How is fatigue negatively impacting your life?