February Fatigue: Burnt-out Brits will ‘waste’ almost three days this month due to exhaustion

12 February 2019

  • Over a third of Brits (37%) admit to reaching peak fatigue in February
  • Brexit, bad weather and lack of sleep among top factors behind nationwide burn-out
  • Over one in three (36%) fall into unhealthy habits as a result – just two months into the year
  • Dr Annabel Bentley, Chief

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way to burnt-out Britons, new research suggests.

Forget the January Blues – a combination of the dreary winter months, Christmas hangover and the political climate means more Britons feel worn-out in February than any other month of the year, according to a new survey by AXA PPP Healthcare.

As a result of this February fatigue, a third (32%) say they are more unproductive and nearly six in 10 Brits (57%) feel they’re ‘wasting’ valuable time, throwing away an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day.
This equates to almost three whole days lost this month, purely due to sheer exhaustion getting the better of us.

According to the poll of over 2,000 UK adults, shorter days (66%) and the colder weather (62%) are the top reasons for feeling weary in February, with a lack of sleep (33%) and financial consequences of Christmas (27%) also contributing towards Britain’s burn-out.

And with the UK’s departure from the EU still unresolved, it’s no surprise that almost one in five (19%) respondents who are fatigued claim Brexit alone as a factor in feeling so drained.

Despite being just two months into the year, a further 36% admit to already slipping into unhealthy habits as a result of fatigue – including avoiding exercise and opting for unhealthy meals. Another 44% claim to feel jaded even before they’ve begun the working day.

And it seems exhaustion is even set to spoil any hint of romance this Valentine’s Day, with 8.8 million Brits (17%) admitting to having less sex, a fifth (19%) not spending time with their partners and 14% arguing more.

When it comes to fighting fatigue, a caffeine fix is the most common course of action (30%) for the UK, although 21% turn to vitamin supplements to increase energy levels. The current trend for wellbeing and mindfulness can also be seen among those who plump for podcasts (20%), hit the gym (19%) or rely on yoga or meditation (7%).

Others prefer a more indulgent route out of exhaustion however, through the latest TV boxset (24%) or chocolate (17%).
Dr Annabel Bentley, Chief Medical Officer at AXA PPP healthcare comments: “People going to their GP saying they are “tired all the time” is a really common issue – so common that it even has its own acronym: ‘TATT’.

“But despite severe tiredness being an ongoing battle for Brits, it’s unsurprising that we’re feeling even more fatigued in February than any other month; the cold weather and darker days alone can have a huge impact on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, among other factors.

“However, fending off fatigue doesn’t have to feel like a tiresome chore in itself. There are a number of healthy habits we can try to do in our daily routines to help reduce physical and mental exhaustion, whether that’s improving our sleep, eating a healthy balanced diet or consciously switching-off from the 24-7 on-demand culture”.
Dr Annabel Bentley has created eight top tips to help Brits fight the fatigue this February, including:

  1. Sleep hygiene is key. Getting into a regular routine will help you get better sleep. Make sure your bed is in a dark room and don’t use ‘blue light’ – such as your mobile phone – as it may interrupt sleep patterns. Turn off your phone several hours before bed or put it outside your bedroom door so you’re not tempted to look at it in the night.
  2. Don’t drink coffee late in the day or evening. Whilst coffee is commonly used for a quick ‘pick-me-up’, it has a long half-life, around 5-6 hours for the average adult. This means any consumption of coffee in the afternoon and evenings will still affect your brain when you’re trying to sleep at night.
  3. Get outside and get some daylight! February is a time of year where we have less natural light, so aim to get out in the middle of the day and avoid being stuck indoors to improve your physical and mental health – whether that’s a short walk around the block or simply going out to get your lunch.
  4. Exercise is important but going to the gym isn’t for everyone – find a way of getting active that you enjoy, whether that’s simply going for a walk or playing ‘team sports’ with your friends or colleagues or taking up dancing. Yoga is also another way to boost your mental health as meditating helps to calm your mind.
  5. Socialise – spending quality time with family and friends, or even your pets, is a simple way of taking take to relax and calm your mind. And to make the most of it and really reap the benefits, why not book a spa day or a trip away to really relax.
  6. Don’t use alcohol as a way to beat fatigue – it will stop you sleeping properly, and you may well end up feeling more fatigued as a result.
  7. Have a digital detox. Set a time to switch off your phone and 24-7 access to TV and films. If you find yourself doing meaningless ‘scrolling’ on social media, take some time out either by limiting your use each day or giving it up. It can be a non-value adding activity and may harm your mental health.
  8. Get back into good food habits – don’t get caught up in ordering takeaway food when you’re feeling tired. Cooking from scratch can actually be a simple way of relaxing your mind… and using healthier ingredients! Food prepping at the start of the week will also make sure you don’t fall into unhealthy eating habits as you already have all your meals ready and will stop you from snacking on unhealthy foods.

When looking at different regions, it seems those in the South East feel more worn-out than anywhere else in the country, with 43% saying they are feeling more fatigued in February (compared to the national average of 36%) The top eleven most exhausted regions are:

  1. South East (43%)
  2. Wales (41%)
  3. East Midlands (40%)
  4. South West (40%)
  5. London (38%)
  6. East of England (38%)
  7. West Midlands (37%)
  8. North East (34%)
  9. Scotland (31%)
  10. Yorkshire & Humberside (31%)
  11. North West (30%)

The top 10 reasons for February Fatigue:

  1. Shorter days (66%)
  2. The cold weather (62%)
  3. Lack of sleep (33%)
  4. Financial impact from Christmas (27%)
  5. Brexit (19%)
  6. Cold and flu (17%)
  7. Less social activities (15%)
  8. Having no holidays to look forward to (14%)
  9. Valentine’s Day (6%)
  10. Struggling to keep up with New Year’s resolutions (6%)

For more information:

Emily.morrison@hellounity.com / 0207 440 9810
scarlett@hellounity.com / 0207 440 9810

Notes to Editors

About the research
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2091 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th-7th February 2019.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

About AXA PPP Healthcare
AXA PPP healthcare – one of the largest and most experienced health insurance providers in the UK – has been helping people to access healthcare services since 1940. Today it forms the UK healthcare arm of AXA and provides cover for medical and dental care for individuals and employers, and employee wellbeing, counselling, occupational health and rehabilitation services through its Health Services division.
AXA PPP healthcare has been named Cover Magazine 2018 Best Group Private Medical Insurance Provider, Moneyfacts 2018 Health Insurance Provider of the Year, Health Insurance Daily 2017 Best Individual PMI Provider, Corporate Adviser 2017 Best Healthcare Provider, the European Large Contact Centre of the Year (at the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards, 2015) and Best Customer Experience (in the Large Contact Centre category of the UK Customer Experience Awards 2015).

About the AXA Group
The AXA Group is a worldwide leader in insurance and asset management, with 165,000 employees serving 105 million clients in 64 countries. In 2017, IFRS revenues amounted to Euro 98,5 billion and IFRS underlying earnings to Euro 6.0 billion. AXA had Euro 1,439 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2017. In the UK & Ireland, AXA operates through a number of business units including: AXA Insurance, AXA PPP healthcare and AXA Ireland. AXA UK & Ireland employs around 10,000 staff. The AXA ordinary share is listed on compartment A of Euronext Paris under the ticker symbol CS (ISN FR 0000120628 – Bloomberg: CS FP – Reuters: AXAF.PA). AXA’s American Depository Share is also quoted on the OTC QX platform under the ticker symbol AXAHY. The AXA Group is included in the main international SRI indexes, such as Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and FTSE4GOOD. It is a founding member of the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Principles for Sustainable Insurance and a signatory of the UN Principles