Victims of our own success

21st July 2003, Comments 0 comments

If you are feeling shattered and dog tired today, you are not alone. A new report by the Dutch institute for healthcare research NIVEL has found that about 40 percent of population aged between 15 and 65 suffers from fatigue and the numbers are rising.

If you are feeling shattered and dog tired today, you are not alone. A new report by the Dutch institute for healthcare research NIVEL has found that about 40 percent of population aged between 15 and 65 suffers from fatigue and the numbers are rising.
 

These days, there seems to be no end to global villains: we have Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, AIDS, cancer and more recently, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) joined the rogues gallery.

But as we frantically go about our daily lives hoping not to run into any of these bad guys, we are creating another insidious enemy. As professor Jozien Bensing told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad on 4 April: "Tiredness is now public enemy number one".

Nobody wants to admit they are not up to living the "constantly on" reality of the modern rat race but something has to give. Expats face many added challenges, leaving them more open to succumbing to fatigue. Expats have to keep up a normal routine, while trying to set up home, sort out residency issues, find a new job, adjust to a different culture and make new friends.

The list is endless so it is not surprising that many expats end up getting sick, fed up, plain exhausted — or all three.

Unfortunately, there are no figures specifically for the expat community, but it is telling that some 40 percent of the general population complains of constant fatigue. Go back 15 years ago and the figure was 30 percent.

It also alarming that the latest study found that 60 percent of young women (up to the age of 24) claim to suffer from constant fatigue. But isn't it the young, independent 20-something females who are supposed to be having the most fun in today's society?

It is too glib to dismiss people who claim to suffer from chronic exhaustion as hypochondriacs. If we listen to what our bodies are telling us, we have to acknowledge most of us have received some of the warning signs.

If you suffer from constant back and shoulder pain, headaches, sleeplessness, forgetfulness and physical and mental exhaustion, it is a clear warning you are setting yourself up for a fall.

Don't try to ignore it, you need to be proactive. And the best advice is — you need to learn how to take a break and relax. Regularly.

A two-week holiday in the sun every year is great, but alone it will not save you from suffering a complete breakdown of your health. Doing more sport and getting regular exercise are important too, but you also have to listen to your body when it asks you to slow down and do nothing for a while.

We plan for everything these days: home, work, holiday, pensions, healthcare, family, sports, leisure time — you name it, we plan for it. But the one thing we often forget to plan for is relaxing.

Why not start on that today. But take a 10-minute break first.

4 April 2003

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