Professional Fatigue – Taking steps to recovery…

By Karen Amos

‘Fatigue’ and ‘Exhaustion’ seem to be the word of the moment for many, with an inevitable impact on productivity and mental wellbeing.  Of course, some sectors are suffering more than others, education and health care to name but two, but there are increasing signs of strain everywhere.

Whilst there’s no magic wand (I wish!), here are some tips and coaching questions to help you on the road to recovery…


I’m not going to suggest you just down tools.  OK, if that’s possible with no consequence, go ahead, but for most people that just isn’t the case.  There will definitely be some activities that are ‘must do’s’ at the moment however, and some that will have lesser consequences if not done immediately.

‘Where am I feeling the pressure right now?’

Ask yourself, ‘Where am I most feeling the pressure right now?’, then list all the things you can do to minimise or eliminate this, however improbable these may seem.  Talking this over with a colleague or someone else you trust can help you out of the ‘stuck-ness’.  It may, for example, feel impossible that you can hand some tasks over or re-schedule, but an outside perspective often helps bring a new reality.  Many more things are possible than we first perceive.

Another useful question to help challenge is, ‘What will happen if I don’t do this activity right now?’ and if it’s unavoidable, ‘How long can I postpone it for to give me more space and time to restore my energy levels?


This is so obvious to be insulting right?  But, even in the best of times, most people don’t get enough proper rest.  Again, it’s easier said than done, but many of us are experiencing a state of underlying anxiety and in some cases, possibly hypervigilance.  This leads us to constantly scan our horizon for threats and reassurance that all’s ok.  Signs of this include sleeplessness and constant checking in, or compulsion to check in on the latest news and social media updates.

The paradox is that the more we check and strive to stay on top of things, the more tired and less productive/more anxious we become.

Here are some ways you can give yourself permission to rest:

  • Take time off work – This is the obvious one, but many of us haven’t had a ‘proper’ break for months now and have nothing booked in for the near future.  It seemed a bit pointless to take time off when we couldn’t really go anywhere during lockdown and for many people a ‘proper holiday’ means abroad.  No matter what your plans, it can help to plan some activities in beforehand though, so you feel your time has been well spent – even if that means catching up on some reading or taking a day-trip from home.   Taking time off means a complete break however – no checking in on calls, or emails.  Just a couple of days can make all the difference.  To do this consistently, engage and discuss this with your team beforehand to ensure you’re not disturbed.  Remember to plan ahead and book the time off in your diary.  It’s unlikely to happen if you don’t.
  • Cut out the media Give yourself a social media break. You can do this by:
    • Allocating a specific window of time you’ll check in each day
    • Blocking or unfollowing accounts that you find stressful or negative
    • Asking yourself, ‘Will reading this help me right now?’ if you’re tempted to click on something contentious that’d send your blood pressure soaring
    • Having a social media ‘holiday’. Switch off or even uninstall the apps on your phone
    • Make social media unavailable. If you find yourself getting caught in a ‘scroll hole’, put your phone out of reach. I charge my phone on the landing each night, so I don’t take it into the bedroom
  • Ration the news Things are changing fast at the moment, so it’s natural to want to be on top of developments, but again, this can feed anxiety. One way to solve this can be to set a daily check in on the news.  Choose your preferred news ‘channel’, be that on TV, the radio, or the internet and set a time each day where you’ll have a proper catch up.
  • Set manageable working hours Even in the best of times, there’s always more to do than there is time to do it in. Accepting that is the first step to taking back control.  Remember that the longer we work, the less productive we become, so long working weeks quickly become counterproductive.
    • Planning a start and finish time for your day in advance.
    • Set out what you wish to achieve that day – remembering to keep this realistic and finish as soon as you’ve completed your tasks.
    • Plan in what you will do when you finish work. That way you’ve something to aim for.
    • Packing away your laptop/work equipment when you’ve reached your finish time. This is particularly important when working from home.
    • Asking someone to give you a nudge when you reach your prearranged finishing time.
    • Telling work colleagues when you will/won’t be available and asking them to help you with this by not contacting you outside these times.

Looking at the tips above, try this coaching question:


Remember to enlist others to help you to succeed.  Your colleagues, friends and family can make great accountability buddies.  Good luck with your next steps…

For further support for you or your team, check out our training page HERE.

For an informal, no-obligation chat about how we can help you, call us on 07714 855757, or email

Karen Amos is an executive coach and founder of BrightBird Coaching & Training. She supports business owners and managers who are feeling the pressure, to get the best out of themselves and their teams. She brings a practical, down-to-earth approach to improving working lives through better leadership, communication and working relationships.