How to Work Past American’s Societal Stigma of Fatigue

Daily, we are told not to feel tired; we are told we’re weak if we are fatigued, or we are not useful if we are exhausted.

None of the above statements are true. It is normal to feel tired when we work hard or play hard. Humans need to rest. But do we rest, really rest, now, or are we always hooked into busyness, social media, emails or the next Netflix chill?

We live in a different time with different stimulus than our forefathers. We are not usually laborers, farmers or ranchers, nor do most of us work until we are physically exhausted. That lead to a more balanced life. Now our bodies often don’t even move in the workplace, so we are not physical tired. We may be emotional tired or psychologically exhausted, but that does not mean we actually sleep well, and then fatigue sets in.

But we live with the societal stigma of being lazy if we don’t work all the time. Productivity has little to do with time worked in this technological age. It is a huge problem that people are expected to work a certain number of hours, so to fill time procrastination is on the rise. Popular distractions such as social media, looking at email, texting or playing games on mobile devices, or numerous others actually add to work stress.

Adding to fatigue, we can be consumed by our dreams not coming true, because we actually do not execute what needs to be done to make those dreams reality. We are literally setting ourselves up to fail — because we won’t even get started. Failure is shaming in this society, so we are not even beginning.  When we think about the work we are not doing, we become fatigued. Then we feel guilty and blame ourselves, which only makes the tension worse.

A busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol, according to recent research at Columbia Business School. Many workplaces create the perception that a busy person possesses the characteristics of a desired employee. Literal workaholics are often held up as having higher importance, competence and ambition in the workplace.  Employees, or even the self-employed, are told that jobs are scarce and long hours are the only way to be in demand in the job market. Going to a job you hate because quitting is scary is hugely fatiguing, but we are told to go after the American Dream, so we have to suffer.

Don’t add to fatigue by creating fear, guilt, shame, or blame because some standard is not being met.  Those unconscious work requirements from society, childhood, workplace or family need to become conscious.  Know what assumptions about work hours, productivity, and social status have become an embedded part of your life. Only when you are fully aware of those assumptions can you look at the impact they are having on your life and well-being.

Move into a positive mindset without the fear of losing a job, or the guilt about not working enough, or the shame that your job is not perfect for some conception of self, or whatever other emotion is plaguing you, causing exhaustion and fatigue.

Now that we are ending American’s Societal Stigma of Fatigue. One way to help with the new positive mindset is to learn at least one way to rest and move the body before, during, and after work.

To optimizes work-and-create flow we know it helps to take breaks. But what are the best practices to use?  What are the work conditions? Some people work well with mindful breaks. Others use full-blown hour-long naps. Step away from the workspace out in the sunshine, stand up and sit down a few times an hour, read a delightful book.  Walking, jogging or biking for 20 minutes, even better.

It depends on circumstances and what is enjoyable. When we practice something we enjoy,  it becomes a habit much easier.

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