In a given week, a full-time employee can work five days and 40 hours or more. With all of these hours, it can feel as though a workplace has become a second home.
Pursuing a career that requires at least 40 hours a week can take a toll on anyone, especially those who live with a rare disease in which fatigue is a major factor. Being overworked is common in the hospitality industry, specifically in hotel and lodging management, where my career and passions lie.
While attending physical therapy sessions a few years ago, before I started doing weekly exercises at home, I was primarily focused on balance and walking. I didn’t learn about fatigue management until just before my outpatient care plan ended. Pure exhaustion from Friedreich’s ataxia has been a constant battle for me, so I was intrigued to hear about different techniques to manage and reduce tiredness to endure my work shifts.
When I first heard the term fatigue management, I thought my appointment would be a quick, one-time meeting. But I soon learned that there is more to it. Fatigue management addresses the mental or physical exhaustion that prevents someone from functioning normally. This care plan consisted of three one-hour sessions to cover what fatigue management is and the different ways to deal with it.
At the time, I was attending graduate school with an online structure. I was taught different times and days of the week to finish my schoolwork. Creating this strategic plan allowed me to become more disciplined and organized with my scheduled homework.
In addition to graduate studies, I was coached on managing my fatigue in workplace settings. My current role at the hotel where I work involves an office and desk setting. I have a normal schedule, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sometimes it is longer, especially during holidays. One never knows what to expect in the hospitality world! For the most part, I work a standard eight-hour shift each day.
When I met with my therapist, I explained how tired I was, no matter how much rest I had the night before. I always seemed to hit that “afternoon slump” and would need a pick-me-up to complete my day. My therapist recommended the following tips to help manage my fatigue:
1. Eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch. It is important to start your day with a wholesome breakfast to get your metabolism going and to create energy. I like to have oatmeal or bread with peanut butter along with fresh fruit. For lunch, I like to eat salads. For protein, I add either chicken, cheese, or a hard-boiled egg. Luckily, my work provides complimentary employee meals and there is always a salad bar!
2. Have an afternoon snack. I usually hit a wall of tiredness around 2-3 p.m. So, I’ll have an afternoon snack of trail mix and a cup of coffee. This gives me the energy boost I need to power through the last few hours of the workday. I like to buy trail mix at Trader Joe’s because they have a wide variety of types and sell them in individual packets.
3. Keep a straight posture. Trying to sit up straight constantly can be difficult, but it is crucial. If you slouch most of the day, you use more energy to maintain balance. To help prevent this, I invested in a back cushion seat that connects to my chair. This way, I always have the support I need to lessen the strain on my body.
4. Get out of the chair and take breaks. Sometimes we need to step away from our desks to rest, both emotionally and physically. Getting up and working my legs by walking helps keep my metabolism moving. Sitting all day can make me overly tired with bad posture.
These tips may seem simple, but they truly help and make a big impact. If you are an FA patient and work part time or full time, I hope you’ll consider these suggestions to help rest and recover!
Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.