As the year draws to a close, many people experience end-of-year fatigue — a real phenomenon that affects many people in the last months of the year. Picture: Pexels / Ketut Subiyanto
As the year draws to a close, many people experience end-of-year fatigue — a real phenomenon that affects many people in the last months of the year. Picture: Pexels / Ketut Subiyanto

Go easy on yourself, end of the year fatigue may be the reason

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Oct 19, 2021

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If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate, are more irritable, and having difficulties getting started with your day in the mornings, you’re not alone.

As the year draws to a close, many people experience end-of-year fatigue — a real phenomenon that affects many people in the last months of the year.

Most people are constantly finding new ways to increase productivity during the day, shadowed by deadlines, all on top of familial commitments. At this time of the year most people are battling with tiredness, overwhelmed and they are dreading what is left of the year.

The reality is that end-of-year syndrome is real, even for the most hard-working people often characterised by exhaustion, anxiety, and laziness especially during October, November and December explains Megan Hosking – Psychiatric Intake Clinician at Akeso Clinics.

“End of the year fatigue is a phenomenon experienced by some as the end of the year draws nearer, where they start to feel more tired, irritable and overwhelmed. It may feel as though every day at this time of the year is just a case of “going through the motions”, with little to no joy or satisfaction.

She says there are a number of different possible contributors to this, including the higher number of deadlines as people try to wrap up their work before the end of the year. However, it’s important to distinguish between the end of the year fatigue, which occurs specifically at this time of year, and something like a mood or anxiety disorder or burn-out, which is not time-bound.

She says signs of fatigue can be being distracted, feeling grumpy, anxiety, laziness, short temper, confusion, and tiredness. These would be out of the ordinary for you, and also appear about this time of year.

Pandemic years, this year and last year, have been the most difficult years on record. Working-from-home, home-schooling and lockdown restrictions, people have been under severe stress for months and it is starting to take its toll on their mental and physical well-being.

As the body perceives stress, your adrenal glands make and release the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream.

Often called the “stress hormone,” cortisol causes an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. When you are under severe stress for long periods of time, the high levels of cortisol can have severe negative health effects such as lack of sleep or insomnia, irritability, poor concentration, weight gain, anxiety, or depression.

Gavin Lund, qualified life coach and co-founder of the Sterkla coaching app, said,  “Go easy on yourself. The words ‘unprecedented’ and ‘uncertainty' were some of the most overused words during the pandemic for good reason.”

Lund says: “Our number one priority as human beings living through a global pandemic has been, and should be, survival. It’s normal to feel down even when there are positives in our lives. What’s important is to better manage the negativity and make sure that the blues of 2021 don’t spill over into the joys of 2022.”

Stress can lead to a variety of health issues and disorders, which is why it’s so important to manage stress effectively for overall health and wellness. Self-care is an important part of alleviating stress, and contrary to popular belief doesn’t have to cost you a great deal or anything at all.

“Mindfulness and spiritual activity, physical exercise, and mastering a skill can all be placed under the umbrella of self-care. It’s about taking time out of the day to do what brings you joy or enhances your sense of well-being. That is a brilliant stress buster,” Lund says.

“Along with stress management, reframing circumstances to replace feelings of guilt and shame with compassion and kindness is also an important part of self-care”

We know it can be difficult to make time for yourself when you feel as though you’re being pulled in different directions to keep your life and relationships afloat — scheduling time for yourself is crucial for self-care.

Some insights from Paul Keursten, co-founder of a company called Open, who design, build and manage innovative co-working spaces around South Africa. He suggests these steps in order to help prevent end of year fatigue:

  • Introduce mindfulness programmes into the workplace – such as Jamm Sessions.
  • Yoga – it can be done after-working hours.
  • Walk and Work – the treadmill's Open has in the space allowed people to stay healthy and active while performing day-to-day, perhaps even admin intensive tasks.
  • Outside environments – bringing outside into the space through plants, but also creating environments out in the fresh air that are conducive to both work and play.
  • Breakaway spaces in places of work – fat sacks, hammocks, fake grass, as well as a variety of working environments – standing desks, height-adjustable tables, laptop and keyboard elevating stands, additional screens, and ergonomically designed chairs.
  • Textures in space (light floors, darker feeling floors) – offer environments and spaces with different feelings to allow the individual to find the space that best stimulates them.

The good news is that end-of-year fatigue is usually only seasonal and will soon pass. By recognising its symptoms you can implement corrective measures to help deal with this time.

It’s also important to note that, being kind to yourself, avoiding the nasty effects of stress, and remembering that it’s okay to ask for help are important first steps in achieving the life you want to live.

It is always a good idea to have a professional do a health check to ensure there are no underlying conditions causing the fatigue.

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