Hugg & Hall Logo
Mental Health & Construction: Administrator Fatigue

Mental Health & Construction: Administrator Fatigue

Last week, we asked a few construction workers, “How do you feel when you wake up in the morning?” (Missed that blog post? Check it out here.)

When we asked a few people in construction administration the same question, we got shockingly similar answers.

“Worn down.”

“So tired that I can’t wait to get back in bed.”

“Not excited to sit in a cubicle for nine hours without seeing the sun.”

We said that fatigue can happen to anyone, but even we didn’t realize how many people (across all aspects of construction) are truly exhausted at all times.


Employees: Ready to fight administrator fatigue and enjoy your life and job more? We’ve got a few easy ways to regain energy and keep your mental and physical health in good shape.

Employers: Want to provide a healthier workplace? Follow these tips to reduce your admin employees’ fatigue!

What is fatigue?

Fatigue is a constant or extreme feeling of tiredness or exhaustion. It’s more than feeling down about going to work: fatigue makes it difficult to get up in the morning and make it through your day.

Fatigue can be physical (weariness or weakness), mental (lack of concentration), and emotional (lack of motivation).

It can be one of those vicious cycles we so often find ourselves in: fatigue impacts your daily life, but is also impacted by your daily life.

In the same way, fatigue isn’t necessarily stress, but fatigue and stress are a vicious cycle because they impact each other so much.



Preventing admin fatigue

If you’re feeling fatigued, it’s high time to make some changes. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be daunting.

As we’ve mentioned in our article about mental health and burnout, even one small change can help you gain back some energy and lower your chances of burning out.


P.S. Already read our post about construction worker fatigue? You’ll likely see some overlap in this post. That’s because no matter what we do for work, most humans benefit from the same lifestyle changes.

However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see some new information that’s more pertinent to you if you’re an office worker! 


1. Eat small meals and snacks often, and make sure you’re getting lots of protein and fiber.

One of the easiest ways to prevent fatigue is to keep your body fed with healthy foods. Eating every 3–4 hours keeps you from experiencing a blood sugar dip and losing energy.

This doesn’t just mean meal prepping and dieting. Even if you’re eating fast food for your meals, you can really change your energy levels by including healthy snacks in your diet.

Healthy snacks include, but aren’t limited to, hard-boiled eggs, trail mix, yogurt cups, string cheese, healthy popcorn, veggies, fruit, and more.

Want to eat less fast food but don’t have time to meal prep? Even though bread is often demonized, a sandwich is still a better lunch option than hitting up McDonalds.

Another option is to build a grown-up “Lunchables” or bento-style snack box for lunch. Just make sure you’re including 1-2 protein sources, a healthy carb, a healthy fat, and a source of fiber.


2. Drink more water and less coffee

Fellow admin worker here: I know how much office workers subsist on coffee. I’m guilty of it myself.

But one of the easiest ways to get more energy is drinking more water and less coffee.

Mild dehydration is a more likely problem for office workers than severe dehydration, but it can still cause headaches and a general sense of tiredness and malaise.

Purchasing a big, refillable water bottle and filling it up once or twice a day means you won’t have to get up several times to refill your water.

3. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy

It’s no secret that most office workers don’t get enough exercise. When you’re confined to a cubicle for eight hours a day, it’s hard to find time to exercise when you go home (especially if you have kids).

But exercise is vital to keeping your heart cardio.

You can also help keep your body healthy by avoiding sitting for eight hours a day. Investing in an exercise ball to sit on or a standing desk will help keep you from being too sedentary (and also help give you more energy to beat fatigue).


4. Get more (high-quality) sleep

This is one of those “easier said than done” points. Unfortunately, it’s one of the best ways to beat fatigue.

On average, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Men often fall on the lower end of the scale and women on the higher end, but that’s not always the case. Your body may need more or less sleep than other people your age and gender.

Almost as important as the amount of sleep you get is your sleep schedule. Try to fall asleep and wake up around the same time every day.

Have trouble forcing yourself to wake up? Consider purchasing a lamp or light that mimics the sun and turning it on right when you wake up.

If you frequently wake up feeling exhausted, even when you’ve been asleep for 7-9 hours, you should see a doctor. You may have a condition like sleep apnea, which can interrupt your sleep and cause other health problems.


5. Practice self-relaxation tools like prayer, meditation, and guided breathing, especially if you’re having trouble sleeping

Did you know prayer can be a form of meditation? Talking to a higher power can help you relax, especially in the evenings, and make it easier for you to fall asleep.

If you’d prefer to use a different meditation tactic, check YouTube for guided meditations or guided breathing exercises. Both can help lower your stress level, making it easier for you to fall asleep.


6. Drink less alcohol

To no one’s surprise, alcohol is, unfortunately, bad for us. It’s a depressant, a mild neurotoxin, a carcinogen, and a sleep disruptor.

Drinking alcohol also slows your reaction time for up to 72 hours after you drink. It even increases your risk of getting sick for at least 24 hours after you drink.

Enjoying alcohol in moderation and cutting down on your intake will help you sleep better and feel better. Fortunately, many brands now make nonalcoholic beers, meaning you don’t have to give up the social aspects of drinking or the taste of your favorite beer.


7. Connect with friends, family, or other social support networks

Even though you’re probably socializing in the office (unless you work from home) you may not get the social support you need from the office.

That’s fine, and even expected. You’ll feel better and less fatigued when you get a break from your routine and see your friends.

On the subject of alcohol: if you and your friends enjoy going to a bar, that’s fine! Just try to cut down on the number of drinks you have.


8. Laugh (even if you have to force it)

We’ve all had the type of day that results in a terrible mood. Carrying that mood out of the office not only makes you more fatigued, it impacts your relationships outside of work.

But there’s an easy way to get in a better mood (so easy, it almost sounds fake!).

Did you know your body affects your brain almost as much as your brain affects your body? Laughter lightens your mental load and releases endorphins.

If you’re having a rough day, smiling or laughing (even if it’s fake) helps trick your brain into thinking you’re having a great day.


9. Avoid blue light as much as possible. 

Blue light is one of the top causes of Digital Eye Fatigue (a.k.a. eye strain). Beyond eye fatigue, it can actually cause your whole body to feel more tired and make you feel more exhausted.

According to the NIH, eye strain is “visual and ocular symptoms arising due to the prolonged use of digital electronic devices. It is characterized by dry eyes, itching, foreign body sensation, watering, blurring of vision, and headache.”

So how do we avoid eye strain as office workers who are expected to stare at a screen all day? There are a few easy ways.

  • Avoid blue light by using blue-light-blocking glasses or turning on “night shift” on your computer and phone.
  • Take frequent eye breaks by utilizing the 20/20/20 rule. (Every 20 minutes, look away from the screen and at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.)
  • Use eye drops to help relieve dryness.

10. Hop off social media and set your phone to DND at night

It’s important to stay connected, but humans weren’t made for constant connectivity. Plus, social media is often riddled with negative content designed to put you on edge, so you interact with it and stay on the platform longer.

If you have someone you need to stay in contact with, set them as a favorite in your phone, and set your DND mode to always allow calls from favorites. It’s an easy way to stay connected to important people without getting all your notifications when you’re trying to sleep.


11. Try to reduce your stress

One of the biggest causes of fatigue is actually stress—because it impacts everything else in your life. Stress weighs on the human body.

Did you know that stress uses up so much of your energy, it can lower your metabolism because your body thinks you’re facing something life-threatening?

When your body is experiencing stress, your brain uses up to 12% more energy than when you’re not stressed. This can lead to you feeling even more drained.

Stress can even cause you to get sick. It’s bad for your body and your brain to stay stressed all the time.

Luckily, any of the small changes we listed above can help you minimize some stress and minimize your chances of getting sick. There’s usually no immediate fix, but starting small can get your stress levels under control.


12. Give yourself some grace when you don’t meet your goals

We’re human, so sometimes we fail. There will be a day when you forget your healthy lunch at home, or have a bad night’s sleep, or just genuinely can’t seem to be in a good mood.

It’s important to make sure you don’t try to take on too many new habits at once. All of these goals are important, but overdoing it is a surefire way to fatigue yourself even more.

It takes about 21-30 days for most people to form a healthy habit. Pick one (or two, at most) of these goals and try to meet it, every day, for one month.

Don’t expect perfection from yourself, and be willing to praise yourself for your successes. (Even the small ones.)



What now?

So what do you do when lifestyle changes aren’t enough? We’ve just detailed a ton of ways to improve your life, one step at a time, but some administrator fatigue isn’t curable with lifestyle changes.

Long COVID, clinical depression, and autoimmune disorders are some of the biggest contributors to chronic fatigue. It’s also possible you could have an underlying medical condition, like heart disease, hypothyroidism, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea or insomnia.

Beyond those, there are also stressors you can’t change, like parenthood. While it’s a joyous thing to be a parent, that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting.

When you are still fatigued and exhausted, even when you’re doing everything “right”, it’s time to see a doctor.



Employers & admin fatigue

If you’re an employer, helping prevent employee fatigue should be one of your top priorities. Fatigue can lead to greater chance of injury and illness, and even burnout and suicide.

There are a few relatively easy ways to prevent employee fatigue, and there are a few that are more difficult to implement.

All of these changes will help create a culture where employees feel valued (and therefore, make them more likely to stay employed with your company).


1. Offer more schedule options beyond the traditional 8:00–5:00 divided by a 1-hour lunch. 

Some employees just aren’t at their most productive at 8:00AM. That’s okay.

Offering your employees the choice to start their workday anywhere from 7:00AM–10:00AM (as long as enough people choose earlier times) can increase productivity tenfold for all employees. Your morning people will be grateful to be done by 4:00, and your night owls will enjoy getting to work 10:00–7:00 when they’re more awake.


2. Manage overtime carefully. 

Most people aren’t productive for more than 8 hours at a time.

If you’re in a situation that requires overtime, make sure your employees aren’t getting burned out, and don’t schedule overtime very often.


3. Give your employees frequent breaks and time off.

Even if they’re not working overtime, breaks are still important. Most office employees are likely to eat a snack or get a drink of water at their desk, meaning they don’t take very much time away from their desks.

Encourage employees to take time away from their desks when they need to recharge or get something to eat. Yes, they’ll be away from their work station, but they’ll come back refreshed and ready to go.


4. Distribute information on healthy sleep schedules and stress management.

So much of stress management feels like a given once you read it, but a reminder never hurts.

Information on managing stress and proper sleep can help incentivize your employees to make positive changes.


5. Provide clear instructions and job expectations for all employees.

It sounds cliché, but people work better, faster, and happier when they know what’s expected of them.

Clear instructions (and a reasonable amount of work) can really raise employee morale and improve your office culture.


6. Have enough employees to conduct the work.

Every year, around 1.5–2 million people will receive their bachelor’s degree and enter the workforce. In fact, it’s never been a better time to be an employer of administration and office workers. There are tons of qualified candidates for most office positions.

An understaffed office might not show signs of strain as much as an understaffed construction site, but the effects are the same. People who feel like they’re overworked are more likely to leave for another company.

Hiring enough employees to eliminate the need for overtime will cost you more up-front, but a higher employee retention rate can lower your costs over time.


7. Keep an eye on your management team. 

Another cliché-sounding but true statement? People quit bosses, not jobs.

Toxic management is a deal breaker to many people. Check in on your employees’ morale regularly, and provide a safe, anonymous space for comments about managers.


8. Offer health insurance with mental health services. 

Most people can benefit from therapy, even if they’re not mentally ill.

Offering mental health services means you’ll have healthier, happier employees.


9. Provide healthy snacks to all employees.

Hydration and satiation are vital to preventing short-term fatigue.

Snacks that are high-protein, high-fiber, and loaded with healthy fats and carbs can help keep employees feeling full and less fatigued.

Consider offering a station with mixed nuts, trail mix, yogurt cups, string cheese, healthy popcorn, and fruit.





It’s not easy to beat administrator fatigue, but it’s vital that employees get enough rest and stay healthy.

Even small changes are important. Celebrate little victories and focus on building a habit to become healthier over time.

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe jobsite with an employee-focused culture, which will lead to better results from employees.


Back to News

Subscribe and unlock cutting-edge equipment insights, trends and tips!