Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?

2023-05-07 16:00:00, Kuriozitete CNA
Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?
Illustrative photo

The World Health Organization describes chronic fatigue as an occupational phenomenon. Not as a health complication.

It is described as a syndrome caused by excessive work stress that is not well managed.

As a phenomenon, this type of fatigue - known in the English language as "burnout" - has been mentioned the most during the coronavirus pandemic.

Then, when people had to keep their jobs, but also adapt to the new way of working. Faith in living.

There was also pressure to maintain health, for oneself, for family members, an extraordinary burden.

In a survey conducted by the American Institute "FutureForum", in February of this year, of more than 10,200 respondents, who were workers all over the world, 42 percent said that they face chronic fatigue.

Fiona Muhaxheri, a psychologist at the "Empathy" clinic, has shown in the newest episode of the "Let's Talk" podcast, why chronic fatigue is caused, what are the symptoms, and how to avoid it, if we can.

Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?

Radio Free Europe:  Fiona, World Health Organisation, says chronic fatigue results from high work stress, which is not well managed. What does it mean to not manage stress well?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Chronic fatigue is not only related to mismanagement of stress, but it is related to other factors, which are out of our control, which are also known as risk factors.

These include: long working hours, heavy responsibilities, unrealistic expectations, a toxic work culture, feelings of intimidation in the workplace, expectations to deliver high performance when resources are scarce, discouraging the use of benefits, for example the use of paid holidays, the expectation of perfectionism, or even low compensation. These are the external factors, which are beyond our control, that lead to chronic fatigue, and not necessarily our own mismanagement.

Radio "Free Europe":  If it is not a disease, does such long-term fatigue cause health problems?

Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Yes, it is very important to treat it if we notice that we are experiencing chronic fatigue, because it can cause long-term damage, both in mental and physical health. Mental health includes: depression, anxiety or other mental health disorders, while in terms of physical health, we can experience sleep disorders, use of narcotic substances, alcohol, tobacco, face diabetes, male sterility, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity and the like.

Radio Free Europe:  How can someone identify themselves who are experiencing chronic fatigue?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Some of the symptoms include an emotional fatigue, a feeling of exhaustion, whether from our emotional or physical resources, it is a feeling of disconnection, of not engaging in work, or in activities that we once enjoyed. We may also experience feelings of procrastination and needing more time to complete a task. It is a feeling of self-doubt, a feeling of being stuck, we feel that our efforts are few, unnecessary, unappreciated. The physical symptoms include headaches, stomach aches, sleep problems, then there is a drop in productivity, increased nervousness, negativity, but also overload. We feel like we have a lot of work to do, but little time to complete it.

Radio Free Europe:  It is said that some people have difficulty distinguishing between chronic fatigue and depression. Which symptoms are similar and which are not?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  It is true that chronic fatigue and depression have overlapping symptoms, such as fatigue, lack of motivation, but also reduced productivity. What makes the difference are the triggers. In chronic fatigue there are causes related to stress in the workplace, while in depression there are also causes related to other aspects of life. To make the distinction, if we remove a source of stress in our life and find that we feel better, then the possibility that we are dealing with chronic stress and not depression is much greater.

Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?

Radio "Free Europe":  Can chronic fatigue be confused with other emotional states, or even a person's character?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  There is a tendency to confuse chronic fatigue with laziness, although the differences between them are great. Chronic fatigue refers to a chronic, emotional and mental fatigue, but caused by prolonged stress, and is related to work. While when we talk about laziness, it usually has to do with a habit, we have a lack of motivation to carry out our daily tasks. At times, chronic fatigue can lead to laziness, so it is very important to understand the triggers of these feelings and treat them accordingly.

Radio "Free Europe":  What is your impression Fiona, is chronic fatigue overrated or underrated as a topic in Kosovo?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Chronic fatigue is an experience that most people can have. Fortunately, awareness is growing, because people are seeking the help of health professionals, for whatever issue is troubling them: work, family, or something else. However, awareness must be raised even more, for everyone to understand that not only major mental health disorders require help from health professionals. Maybe sometimes just a little stress at work is enough for someone to undergo a psychotherapeutic session.

Radio "Free Europe":  Do you believe that changing the workplace is a solution to avoid this fatigue?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  In order to prevent chronic fatigue, there must be a mutual effort, both by the company and by the worker, to maintain mental health well-being. It doesn't mean that just because you change the workplace you won't experience chronic fatigue, but there are some things that help us in prevention. What can we do? We can take breaks, be it short breaks in the day, or even a few days, walking to the store, physical exercise, or whatever helps us get out of the daily routine.

But we know that not everyone has the opportunity to take long vacations. We need to remind ourselves that not everything is under our control, and that we cannot offer solutions for everything. It's important to do activities that make us feel good, identify people who are concerned about our well-being, or even keep a journal of our feelings. This later helps us to understand what is causing us that kind of fatigue, and maybe even protect ourselves from that trigger.

Chronic fatigue: What causes it and how to avoid it?

Another thing that helps is setting boundaries between your personal and professional life. To set a time when our work is done, not to check emails after work hours, while we are on vacation, or even on weekends.

Radio "Free Europe":  Very good examples for workers, but what should employer institutions do? How do they take care of the welfare of their workers?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Companies have an obligation for their workers to be healthy and productive. They can promote balance between personal and professional life. They can help workers manage work stress, making sure they are not overwhelmed with tasks or responsibilities. To offer them support, to validate their feelings, because something can be more difficult for someone than for someone else. Another very important thing is to encourage vacations, whether daily or weekly. Investments in worker training are also important because they make workers feel valued in the workplace.

Radio "Free Europe":  Do you believe that the initiatives of some companies are enough to enable workers to go to gyms for free, to remove their travel expenses, or should more be done in the emotional aspect?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Every initiative, no matter how small, should be appreciated. Any effort that makes their job easier is most welcome, and should be appreciated.

Radio Free Europe:  Can chronic fatigue be stopped, or do we just have to learn to manage it?

Fiona Muhaxheri:  It is difficult, if not impossible, to completely disappear as a phenomenon, although the creation of protective mechanisms helps in prevention. We can't eliminate it entirely, but we can lessen it, or even manage it better in the future, by setting boundaries.

Radio "Free Europe":  Setting limits? But then the limits are individual, they depend on ambitions, character, and the like.

Fiona Muhaxheri:  Exactly. It is very important for a person to know what he wants from his life, and what he is getting out of work. Does that person feel that stress and workload are necessary for their professional development? So, everything depends on the values, principles and goals that the person has./ REL

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