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Restore Energy

Always Tired At Work: Why And How to Fight Work Fatigue

Written by Jeanne Nangle
Life Coach at Jeanne Nangle Soul Coach
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Do you ever start the day feeling ready to go, with lots of energy, then you get to work and you’re tired? You want to put your head on your desk and it’s only 9:00 in the morning?

Or, you’re answering emails and checking off each item on your To Do list, when your energy levels suddenly drop and you’re tired?

Being tired at work may be work-related or your energy is running low for personal reasons. This article will help you identify why you’re tired at work and give you effective solutions to boost your energy and feel more alive on the job. You deserve to have your energy working for you!

Why You’re Easily Tired at Work

Is it normal to feel tired at work?

Jared Ankerman MD at Cleveland Clinic says,[1]

“Tiredness is something that is natural. You might be tired after a busy day at work or exercising. That’s normal and most people experience that.”

However, work fatigue is more than simply being tired.

According to the National Library of Medicine,[2]

“The first feature of work fatigue is that it involves both extreme tiredness (i.e., lack of energy) and reduced functional capacity.”

If you’re experiencing extreme tiredness at work and you’re unable to effectively perform your job, you might be experiencing work fatigue.

It’s frustrating to arrive at work and feel your energy plummet. You want to get more out of your day and feeling tired is not what you have in mind!

Work fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors such as job burnout, a challenging work environment, or work-related stress. Let’s take a brief look at each.


Job Burnout

According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is a special type of work-related stress. Specifically,[3]

“It’s a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.”

Of course, you want to make a contribution at work in a way that uses your individual and unique qualities. Work is more fulfilling when you’re helping others, expressing your true self, and using the talents, gifts, and skills that you’ve worked hard to develop.

Forbes magazine lists four signs of job burnout:

  1. Feelings of energy depletion, exhaustion, and fatigue.
  2. Increased mental distance from your job.
  3. Feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your job.
  4. Reduced professional efficacy.

If you’re seeing any of these signs you’re not alone. In 2022, three years into the pandemic, job burnout jumped to an all-time high.[4]

Challenging Work Environment

Maybe your job isn’t specifically creating work fatigue, but the environment is causing you to feel tired. For example, a challenging relationship with a co-worker or boss. Or, maybe the workspace environment is loud and you need a quieter place to think.

Or, if you’re a creative person and your job doesn’t give you an opportunity to express yourself, this will zap your energy. Another example would be if you require a lot of physical movement during the day and your job is mostly sitting at a desk. This can definitely make you tired.


High levels of stress at work can also cause work fatigue.

Stress can be brought on by your own inner compass. You want to do a good job and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. So, when you don’t feel good about the day, it brings on stress.

Furthermore, you want to feel competent and knowledgeable about your work. So, if something happens where your abilities are questioned, you’ll be stressed.

Of course, you want to be recognized by your manager or boss. Whether it’s a quick comment in the hallway or a good performance review, you need to know your hard work and abilities are noticed.

Personal Reasons

However, you might feel tired at work because of situations outside of work. When you’re feeling more than the usual tiredness, it’s a good idea to look closely at what’s going on outside of work.

For example, if you’re having problems in a close relationship in your life, the problem might follow you to work. This is understandable because close and intimate relationships are very important for our sense of belonging and feeling supported in our lives.

5 Self-Care Tips to Fight Work Fatigue

There are effective ways to fight work fatigue so that you’ll have more energy and vitality throughout the day. By practicing one or two of them each day, you’ll increase your energy levels.

1. Get Plenty of Sleep

We all love a good night’s sleep. However, the demands of life often make that impossible.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, first look at your bedtime routine.[5]

“A bedtime routine is a set of activities you perform in the same order, every night, in the 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed. Bedtime routines can vary, but often include calming activities like taking a warm bath, reading, journaling, or meditation.”

So, it’s important to be sure you’re getting enough sleep. Learn how to fall asleep faster and better here.

2. Manage Your Energy Levels

When you’re tired or overwhelmed, step away from your desk or computer.

Feeling overwhelmed makes you tired because worrying uses a lot of energy. You could be afraid that you won’t finish your work or that you’ll let people down.


The fear of not getting something done has an even bigger fear underneath it: The fear of failure. High achievers are naturally driven individuals, so they put themselves under a lot of pressure to succeed.

However, success and failure often go hand in hand. So have patience with yourself as you fail on your way to success.

3. Manage Stress While at Work

At most jobs, you’re working hard to meet other people’s expectations, and that is certainly stressful.

Harvard Medical School warns us that stress at work triggers the fight or flight response.[6] When a manager or customer makes a request, we have a physical reaction in the form of an increased heart rate, faster breathing, and muscles tense.


To keep stress to a minimum, there are external and internal action steps you can take.

Some external action steps would be to take breaks each hour, work during your peak productive hours, and manage your time by anticipating how long projects will take.

Internally, remind yourself that you can and will get it done! Your self-talk is very important. Tell yourself that you are doing your best, it’s OK to make mistakes, and you don’t have to be perfect.

A lot of stressors are something you can manage with positive self-talk and building confidence. You gain confidence by building on your skill sets and jumping in and doing activities that are new to you. Experience builds confidence.

4. Breathe Gently and Deeply

Diaphragmatic breathing is a powerful way to lower stress and calm the mind. Dr. Megan Riehl, a licensed clinical health psychologist says,[7]

“Diaphragmatic breathing is an excellent relaxation technique. As you breathe deeply, you increase your energy levels and allow fresh oxygen and nutrients to be distributed to your cells. This helps the brain and organs function at an optimal level.”

To do this, find a comfortable and quiet place to stop and breathe. Whether at your desk, in a restroom, or office rest area.

Next, close your eyes and focus on only your breathing. Inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 8 counts is the most effective sequence according to Daniel Amen M.D.


Diaphragmatic Breathing is one of the quickest and most effective tools we have to give us energy.

5. Take Regular Breaks

Regular breaks help you lower stress and unplug for a few minutes. Simply get up and walk around every 50 mins or so. You can set a timer on your phone or fitness device to remind you to step away from your desk and breathe.

Power naps are another great way to catch up on your rest and reduce fatigue. A power nap is an afternoon nap lasting anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes can help reduce stress and offset the adverse

Sleep scientist Rebecca Robbins explains that,

“A power nap gives people a chance to rest for a short period of time to boost workplace productivity.”

However, she adds that power naps are only beneficial when they are done correctly.

James Maas is the Cornell University professor who coined the term power nap and he states,[8]

“It’s an opportunity to shut your eyes, breathe slowly and recharge.”

When is it Time to Find a New Job?

When is work fatigue so much that it’s time to leave the job?

“You have the right to have work that enriches and enlivens you, rather than diminishing you. If the toll the work is taking on you is causing you to feel sick and is affecting your relationships, then it may be time to leave.” — Monique Valcour of the Harvard Business Review.[9]

According to Monique, it may be time to leave if your job or employer doesn’t enable you to be the best version of yourself, if their values don’t align with yours, or if you don’t believe you have a future in that job or company.

If you are experiencing any of these problems, it might be time to find a job that suits you and your personality, values, and talents.


Bottom Line

Work fatigue is a real problem and can drain the joy from your life. If you’re feeling any of the signs mentioned above, you may be experiencing work-related fatigue. And if the number of hours you work each week is so high that you don’t have time to relax, recharge, and enjoy yourself, your work-life balance is probably off.

Whether it’s work fatigue or tiredness for other reasons, there are action steps you can take that will increase your energy. The self-care tips listed above will help you reclaim your energy so that you’ll feel focused and engaged while at work.

Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com


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