Why Does My Desk Job Make Me So Tired?

We’ve all been there. It’s 2 p.m. and you’re struggling to keep your eyes open at your desk. You survey the office and see that you’re not alone; nearly everyone else looks just as exhausted as you feel. Welcome to the world of desk job fatigue, where the only thing more draining than your energy is trying to figure out why you’re so darn tired all the time. 

The good news is that you’re not alone—and there’s a scientific explanation for why desk jobs can be so draining. So if you’ve ever wondered why your desk job makes you so tired, read on!

What is desk job fatigue?

Desk job fatigue is a term used to describe the combination of physical and mental exhaustion that comes with working long hours at a desk. It can manifest itself in a variety of ways—including loss of motivation, low energy levels, decreased productivity, headaches, and difficulty concentrating.

Desk job fatigue isn’t just caused by the hours you spend sitting in front of a computer screen. It’s also heavily influenced by other factors, such as your daily routine, the type of work you do, and even your posture while working.

For example, if you have an irregular sleep pattern or eat unhealthy snacks throughout the day, this can lead to physical exhaustion that can take a toll on your mental energy. Additionally, if you sit in an uncomfortable chair or at a low-quality desk all day, this can lead to backaches and neck pain that contribute to feelings of fatigue.

In terms of work-related causes of fatigue, research has found that jobs requiring long hours of repetitive tasks—like data entry or customer service—can lead to feelings of boredom and exhaustion. Additionally, if your job involves problem-solving or creative thinking that requires a lot of mental energy, this can also contribute to fatigue.

Finally, if your job doesn’t offer any breaks throughout the day, it’s easy to become mentally drained as you try to stay focused for long periods of time.

Why does my desk job make me so tired? Woman asleep at desk at work.

What are the symptoms of desk job fatigue?

If you’re like most Americans, you spend the majority of your day sitting at a desk. And if you’re feeling exhausted from your desk job, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent study, almost 60% of full-time workers say they experience fatigue symptoms every week.

1. Feeling stressed:

One of the main reasons people feel exhausted from their desk job is because they’re constantly feeling stressed. When you’re juggling multiple deadlines, projects, and tasks, it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed and stressed. This can lead to feeling exhausted both mentally and physically.

If you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed and like you can’t keep up, it’s important to take a step back and assess what’s really causing your stress. Is it your workload? Your boss? Your commute? Once you identify the source of your stress, you can start to think about ways to reduce it.

2. Feeling overwhelmed:

Along with feeling stressed, many people who have a desk job also feel overwhelmed. If you’re constantly feeling like there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it, it’s important to start prioritizing your tasks. Make a list of everything you need to do, then focus on the most important items first. Try to break down big projects into smaller tasks so you don’t feel so overwhelmed. And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it!

3. Lack of focus:

When we’re feeling tired, it’s often hard to focus on the task at hand. If you find yourself struggling to stay on track, try taking breaks more often. Get up and walk around for a few minutes or step outside for some fresh air. You might also want to try drinking more water and eating healthier foods to help improve your focus.

4. Feeling like you can’t get anything done:

If it seems like no matter how hard you try, you can’t get anything done, it’s probably because you’re trying to do too much at once. Instead of trying to multitask, focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention until it’s complete.

5. Feeling unable to take a break:

Once we start feeling overwhelmed with work, it can be hard to step away from our desks – even for a few minutes. But if we don’t take breaks, we’ll only end up feeling more exhausted. So make sure you’re taking some time for yourself every day – even if it’s just 10 minutes to read or take a walk outside.

6. Lack of motivation:

It’s hard to be motivated when we’re feeling exhausted both mentally and physically. If you’re having trouble getting started on projects or find yourself procrastinating more than usual, try setting small goals for yourself each day that are easily achievable. Once you start seeing some progress, you’ll likely find it easier to stay motivated.

7 Depression and anxiety:

Lastly, exhaustion from a desk job can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. Studies have shown that people who sit for long periods of time are more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. If you think you might be struggling with depression or anxiety, talk to your doctor about ways to get help.

These are just some of the symptoms that come from feeling exhausted from your desk job—but thankfully, there are ways to fix them! By taking breaks, focusing on one task at a time, and setting small goals, you can start reducing your fatigue and increase your motivation.

Why is my desk job so tiring?

1. Energy depletion

One theory behind why we get so tired despite the fact that we aren’t doing a physically demanding job is that we have a limited store of mental energy, willpower and self control, which we have to use to reach our goals. Once our store is used up for the day, the theory goes that we become tired.

As desk jobs often require a lot of mental energy to carry out, the theory suggests that we are simply mentally depleted by the end of the day.

2. Lack of motivation

Another possible explanation is that desk jobs can be mentally draining because they become monotonous and it’s hard to stay motivated.

Many of us have experienced the feeling of fatigue after a long day at a desk job. While there are many possible explanations for this phenomenon, one of the most likely causes is a lack of motivation.

When we are not properly motivated, it becomes difficult to maintain focus on our work. Instead, our minds begin to wander and we start to think about other things that we would rather be doing. This can range from checking social media to listening to music or even reading a book.

The tension between what we are doing and what we want to be doing can cause us to feel fatigued both mentally and physically.

To combat this, it is important to find ways to stay motivated throughout the workday. This may involve setting small goals, taking breaks, or listening to music that helps you focus. By taking these steps, you can help yourself stay energized and avoid feeling overwhelmed by your desk job.

3. Mental fatigue

You’ve been sitting at your desk all day, working hard on that project/report/presentation. And yet, when five o’clock finally rolls around, you can barely keep your eyes open. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, research shows that mental fatigue is a common occupational hazard for office workers. So what exactly is mental fatigue? And why does it make us so tired?

Mental fatigue occurs when we use up our limited supply of mental resources. Like physical energy, mental energy is not unlimited – we only have so much of it to go around. And when we use up our mental resources, we feel tired and run down. Office work is particularly taxing on our mental resources because it requires us to focus for long periods of time, often while performing complex tasks. This constant effort takes a toll on our brain power, leaving us feeling fatigued at the end of the day.

There are a few things you can do to combat mental fatigue: take breaks often, get regular exercise, and get enough sleep. Taking breaks helps to refresh your mind and restore your mental energy. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that can help to improve your mood and increase your energy levels. And finally, getting enough sleep is essential for keeping your mind sharp and preventing mental fatigue. So if you’re feeling tired after a long day at the office, try implementing some of these tips – your mind (and body) will thank you for it!

4. Stress

There are a number of reasons why workplace stress can lead to feelings of fatigue.

For one, when we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is designed to help us deal with danger by giving us a burst of energy. However, if cortisol levels remain high for extended periods of time, it can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion.

Additionally, when we’re stressed, we often don’t make time for healthy behaviors like eating well and getting enough sleep. As a result, our bodies become depleted of the nutrients and rest they need to function properly.

Finally, chronic stress can take a toll on our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness.

If you’re struggling with workplace stress, there are a number of things you can do to regain your energy levels. First, seek support from close friends or family members. Talking about what’s causing your stress can help to lessen its impact. Additionally, relax with calming activities like yoga or meditation. And be sure to get some exercise; even a short walk can help to relieve tension and restore energy levels.

Lastly, try to be more mindful of the present moment. When we’re caught up in worries about the future or dwelling on past events, it can add to our stress levels. Learning to focus on the here and now can help reduce workplace stress and improve overall well-being.

5. Boredom

On the other hand, sometimes it is boredom from our jobs that can lead us to feel tired.

For example, if you work at a computer all day, the repetitive nature of this task can eventually cause you to become mentally fatigued and overwhelmed. The same can be said if you are in a job with little variety or challenge. This sense of boredom and lack of stimulation can make it hard to focus on the task at hand, leading to feelings of fatigue.

To combat this feeling, it is important to find ways to stay engaged and motivated in your work. For example, you could try to take on different tasks and challenge yourself by learning new skills. Additionally, taking regular breaks throughout your day can help to re-energize you and break up the monotony of the task at hand. Finally, talking with colleagues or friends can help to keep your spirits up and make sure that you are not feeling bored or drained.

6. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep can also be to blame for feeling tired in the office.

Our bodies need a certain amount of rest and relaxation in order to function properly, and when we don’t get enough sleep, it takes a toll on our mental and physical energy levels. When this happens, it can be hard to stay focused and productive during the day, leading to feelings of exhaustion.

To combat this, it is important to prioritize getting enough sleep each night. Create a consistent sleep schedule and stick to it in order to ensure that you are getting adequate rest. Additionally, try to limit activities like caffeine and alcohol that can interfere with your natural sleeping patterns. With enough rest, you will be able to wake up feeling energized and ready to take on the day!

7. Lack of movement

It’s no secret that many desk jobs can be pretty sedentary. After all, when you’re chained to a computer all day, it’s tough to find the time (or motivation) to move around. And while it may not seem like a big deal, this lack of movement can actually take a serious toll on your energy levels.

Studies have shown that regular exercise is beneficial for improving energy levels, both in the short and long term. In fact, just 20 minutes of moderate exercise can give you a much-needed boost of energy. But if you’re stuck at a desk all day, it can be tough to find the time (or motivation) to hit the gym.

So what’s the solution? Even small amounts of movement can help to improve your energy levels. So next time you’re feeling tired at work, try taking a quick walk around the office or going for a quick swim during your lunch break. You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel!

8. Screens and eye strain

If you spend most of your day looking at a computer screen, chances are that this could be the cause of your fatigue.

Staring at screens for long periods of time can put strain on your eyes, leading to headaches, blurred vision and feelings of tiredness. Additionally, the blue light emitted from our devices can disrupt our natural sleep cycles, making it harder to get a full night’s rest.

To combat this, try to take regular breaks from your screens throughout the day and engage in activities that don’t involve them (such as taking a quick walk or having lunch with colleagues). Additionally, consider using software that reduces the amount of blue light emitted from your devices or investing in a pair of blue light blocking glasses. This can help to reduce the strain on your eyes, allowing you to stay focused and energized throughout the day.

For more information on how screens make us feel tired, read our post on why you get sleepy when you are on the computer.

9. Lack of fresh air

Office air typically contains many impurities such as dust, mold, smoke and other pollutants which can all have a negative impact on your energy levels. Without adequate ventilation, this poor quality air can quickly lead to feelings of workplace fatigue.

To combat this, try to take regular breaks outdoors for fresh air. Even just a few minutes in the sunshine can give you a much needed boost of energy. Additionally, make sure that your office is well ventilated and that any necessary air filters are being replaced regularly in order to keep the air clean. With a few simple steps, you can ensure that the air in your office is fresh and free of impurities!

10. Dehydration

Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and a lack of focus, all of which make it difficult to get through the workday. The best way to combat dehydration is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. If you find it difficult to stay hydrated, set a schedule and use an alarm to remind you to drink up. And be sure to be consistent – even if you miss a few glasses here and there, drinking water regularly will still help you fight off fatigue. So next time you’re struggling to make it through the afternoon, reach for a glass of water – it just might be the key to getting through the rest of the day.

11. No natural light

Another reason desk jobs can be tiring is because they often involve spending long hours indoors under fluorescent lights. And while fluorescent lights are great for office settings, they can actually disrupt our natural circadian rhythms—aka our sleep-wake cycles—which can lead to increased fatigue during the day. 

To combat this, try to get outside for a few minutes each day during daylight hours. And if possible, sit near a window in your office so you can get some natural light throughout the day. Additionally, consider investing in a light therapy lamp, which can help improve your energy levels and mood by imitating natural sunlight exposure. 

12. Not enough breaks

We live in a culture that promotes working long hours and skipping breaks, but the truth is that taking breaks is essential to maintaining both our physical and mental health—which means it’s essential for combating fatigue as well. When we don’t take breaks throughout the day, we’re more likely to experience burnout both mentally and physically. And when we’re burned out, we’re more likely to make mistakes, have accidents, or just generally feel terrible—all of which can lead to increased fatigue levels. 

So what’s the solution? Make sure you take a few minutes each day to step away from your workstation and take a real break! Get up and stretch your legs, grab a snack or cup of coffee, or chat with a colleague—whatever will help you relax and rejuvenate yourself before jumping back into work mode.

By being mindful of these potential causes of fatigue, you’ll be better equipped to stay productive and energized in your desk job. With enough focus and dedication, you can find new ways to stay energized and motivated throughout the workday—so don’t let fatigue be a roadblock to your success!  Doing so will ensure that you can get through even the longest days with ease, allowing you to focus on what really matters.  Good luck!

How do I stop being tired at my desk job?

The good news is that there are several things you can do to help combat work fatigue. Here are a few solutions to get started:

Take breaks

One of the best ways to combat this is to take regular breaks. Getting up and walking around for a few minutes can help to refresh your mind and reenergize your body. And be sure to stay hydrated by drinking a cup of water every time you take a break. With a little bit of effort, you can beat the midday slump and stay productive all day long.

Get regular exercise

Regular exercise helps give you more energy and also relieves stress. Being physically active can help fight off feelings of exhaustion and give you more energy throughout the day. Make sure to take regular breaks from your desk job and get some exercise. Take a walk, go for a swim, or even just do some stretching – anything that will help you rejuvenate and increase blood flow is beneficial!

Switch tasks

When you find yourself feeling tired or mentally drained, try to switch tasks. Doing something new or different can help stimulate your mind and help you stay energized. Not only does this give you a break from the same old routine, but it also helps keep your focus sharp and prevents boredom from setting in.

Get enough sleep

Getting enough quality sleep can make all the difference when it comes to battling desk job fatigue. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night and try to go to bed at the same time every night to establish a regular sleeping pattern. Additionally, be sure to limit your caffeine intake in the afternoon and avoid using screens too close to bedtime, as this can interfere with your natural circadian rhythms.

Take your lunch outdoors

Whenever possible, try to take your lunch break outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air will help energize you during the day, and can even help to reduce stress levels. If you don’t have access to a nearby park or outdoor seating area, at least make sure you get up from your desk and take a few laps around the office.

Prioritize your work life balance

Finally, make sure to prioritize your work life balance. While it’s important to stay productive and motivated at work, it’s also essential that you take time for yourself as well. Make sure to schedule in some “me time” every day so that you can rest and recharge. This will help ensure that you stay energized and motivated during your desk job.

By making a few simple changes, you can dramatically reduce the fatigue associated with your desk job and stay productive all day long. Just remember to take regular breaks, get enough exercise and sleep, and make sure to prioritize your work life balance – these tips will help ensure that you stay energized even when your desk job starts to feel overwhelming.

Conclusion: Why does your desk job make you so tired?

Desk job fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, including long hours, monotonous tasks, and poor ergonomics. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to combat this fatigue and stay energized throughout the day. Taking regular breaks from work, getting regular exercise, switching tasks, getting enough sleep, and taking your lunch outdoors are all great strategies to help keep fatigue at bay.

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