For the past few weeks, Delhi-based primary school teacher Raavi Sharanya has found it harder to get out of bed every morning. "There is lack of motivation to complete tasks, and the usual daily routine seems overbearing and unending," she says.
We can all collectively agree that it's been a pretty rough year. And as 2021 draws to a close, the adage — the hardest part of every race is found very close to the finish line — cannot be more apt. As with many of us, the rush to get things done at work around the end of the year and the added pressure of family commitments results in what Sharanya is experiencing: year-end fatigue.
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End-of-year burnout that manifests in fatigue is a direct result of being overworked and stressed. Physical, emotional and psychological exhaustion, accompanied by feelings of helplessness and being unmotivated and hopeless, is a glaring sign for us to slow down, review our goals and find out what are we neglecting. Dr Sahir Jamati, consultant psychologist and psychotherapist, HOD-Department of Psychology, Masina Hospital, decodes the term fatigue. "Fatigue is a common term used to define a state of the overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy," he says, pointing out that this is not the same as mere drowsiness or sleepiness, though that may be one of the symptoms of fatigue.
Nearing the end of the year, people sometimes develop a rush to wrap up work, commitments given to family or business, looming deadlines, and trying to get through all things they haven't gotten to in the whole year, he adds." All this may leave people feeling tired, irritable and overwhelmed as and when the year draws to close."
Experts say that it's not unusual to struggle physically and mentally— tiredness, irritability, inability to summon joy or satisfaction and overwhelming emotions--during the last couple of months of the year. Sonal Singh, the co-founder & director of Fittr, a health and fitness community platform, says, "Most of us are trying to get the most out of our day and pushing ourselves beyond our limits to improve productivity," says Singh. However, she believes it is important not to ignore this persistent tiredness. Just like general stress, year-end fatigue can seem unavoidable for some. However, it is essential to be aware of it as, if unchecked, it could lead to a host of other issues, including anxiety, exhaustion, boredom, irritability, poor concentration and insomnia, among other things. "This burnout that people feel during November and December is a real phenomenon," she says.
Changing lifestyle factors such as having physical activities, sufficient amount of sleep, restricting the use of drugs and alcohol, cutting down on caffeine, eating a nutritious diet, scheduling self-care like going to the spa, reading good books, practising yoga, relaxing and taking a break from routine or enjoying an outing in nature with friends, can help tackle burnout and fatigue. Jamati says, "Having a digital detox and stepping away from digital devices to benefit sleep, relationships, create memories, enjoy food, etc., can help. Stress plays a big role in end-of-year fatigue and low energy, so managing that is important In many cases, practising mindfulness techniques to modify and reduce stress helps to steer clear of exhaustion. "Having a realistic plan and not over-committing to prevent mental drain and counter-productivity should be practised," he adds.
When Sharanya consulted her psychologist friend, she was advised to follow easy methods to overcome fatigue. "My friend told me to have plenty of water. She said that at times we feel tired simply because we are mildly dehydrated," she says. Also, since she was a coffee and tea addict, the friend advised her to cut down on it as much as possible. "I have switched over to green tea and decaf tea," says the mother of two. She also had the habit of skipping breakfast, bogged down by work and childcare. She now makes it a point to eat a healthy breakfast daily. Another thing that helps is to ensure that you move daily and get the right amount of sleep. Making these small changes has helped Sharanya tremendously. "I'm being positive now. I have already survived more than 300 days this year; the remaining should be a lark. More celebrations await us. I'm sure I will tide over with the right health regime."