Fatigue Is a Word That Means Tired But it can mean more than just sleep-deprived. We might say we’re fatigued when we’re tired of a situation. It can even be a euphemism for feeling depressed. But no matter the cause—lack of sleep, living through an epidemic, anxiety, or depression—fatigue can be a factor in workplace accidents.

You can’t control how much sleep your people get at night when they’re not working. But you can fight fatigue. Research shows that while noise and poor air quality contribute to fatigue, good lighting can fight feelings of fatigue. Turn on the lights; more, or improved lighting can help fight fatigue. If you’re working inside and air filtration is available, turn it on. And when loud machinery can’t be sound-proofed, provide earplugs or earmuffs to workers to help prevent noise-fatigue.

Let your people know about these CDC suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep.

  • Be consistent. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and cool.
  • Keep electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smartphones, out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.
  • Get regular exercise.

You can’t control the mental health of your people. But you can recognize that sometimes what looks like fatigue is actually depression or anxiety. Some signs of mental distress include:

  • Feeling drained, tired, blah, sad, numb, lonely, or worried
  • Having difficulty making decisions and staying focused
  • Becoming easily frustrated or argumentative more often than usual
  • Overreacting to normal stimuli like noise and lighting
  • Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns

You’re not a doctor, so you can’t diagnose mental health problems. But you can create opportunities for connection. Greet your people when they come in. Make eye contact (this is especially important when we’re masked). Ask them how they are doing; then wait for an answer. When we feel connected, we feel safe. A small investment of your time and energy can create a better environment for mental health.