In this fast-paced world we live in today it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in defining our worth by how much we do. We are obsessed with ticking off boxes, reaching quotas quickly, and outperforming everyone else. We get sucked into a culture that puts productivity on a pedestal and shames those who are considered less “useful”. All of this has worked together to form the idea that being a workaholic is the norm — or at least, the desired norm.
But it’s not. Overworking yourself can be just as bad, if not worse, than being a lazy bum. Often, those who overwork themselves tend to forget to give themselves a break. And everyone needs breaks once in a while. Even if you are the most crazy efficient, type-A person in the world — you need a break. Here are 10 tell-tale signs which will confirm that:
10. Chronic Fatigue
A general weakness which overwhelms or a perpetual feeling of being tired is a simple indication of being overworked. It may start out with a lack of energy despite thinking you’re getting ‘enough’ rest. Then, it will escalate to physical and emotional exhaustion which leaves you completely drained. The continuous occurrence of this is what sets it apart from the regular type of tired.
You might take your body’s unwillingness to fall asleep as a sign to keep working — don’t. Restlessness or periodically waking up throughout the night is not an indication that your body can take more, it’s actually the opposite. The inability to fall asleep or to have a restful sleep is most likely insomnia stemming from your body being unable to cope with the stress you’re putting it through. One or two missed nights of sleep a week is how it begins but pretty soon it turns into a nightly ordeal where you won’t be able to doze off no matter how tired you are.
8. Increased Sickness
This one should be pretty obvious: overworking yourself and not letting your body take the rest it needs will result in a poor immune system. With your immunity down, it’s all the more likely for you to contract colds, infections, and the like. Of course, this usually results in an endless cycle of being sick and forcing yourself to work then only getting sicker and forcing yourself to work even harder.
7. Brain Fog
Being unable to concentrate, suffering from mild forgetfulness, and having a shortened attention span are all symptoms of mental fatigue or ‘brain fog’. Your body may seem like it has the energy to keep going but your mind needs its rest as well. Panicking about the work you’re not getting done because you can’t seem to focus will only worsen the condition as you push yourself even more.
6. Perpetual Bad Mood
Feelings of anger or pessimism pervading your mood for no real reason could be one way of your mind and body lashing out at you for mistreating it. Constantly being irritable or having a short fuse when interacting with others is less likely to be connected to a behavior problem than it is burnout. The same goes for a mindset which always reacts in the negative and gives in to feelings of despondence.
5. Weight Loss
Losing a couple of pounds when you’re overworking yourself might be caused by a number of things. Stress-caused nausea could either lead to an upset stomach or skipping out on meals to avoid the feeling. Working the day away also tends to result in forgotten meals or quick snacks which lack nutrition. Regardless of the reason, sudden and unaccounted for weight loss should definitely raise some questions.
4. Loss of Appetite
Distinct from purposely skipping meals in order to work, a loss of appetite is your body already flat-out forgetting you need food to live. It’s your body failing to send out the proper signals for your survival, probably because you won’t listen to it anyway. It might start out with lacking the urge for just 1 meal a day but soon enough it will progress to missing the sensation of being hungry altogether.
Mild instances of anxiety might already be common for a typical workaholic so do lookout for an increase in either severity or occurrences of it. Some symptoms include worrying, tension, edginess, and overthinking. It could extend to the extreme of causing panic attacks or leading your mind to spiral. This is also associated with an inability to focus or act productively.
A chronic but explainable feeling of sadness and hopelessness might be stress-induced depression, making you listless and unable to find the motivation to do anything. This may stem from the outlook that you are isolated from others since you have buried yourself in work and possibly have not connected with friends or family in a while. Or perhaps the sensation that you are ‘stuck’ in your work is what inspires this hopelessness.
1. Cynicism and Detachment
A loss of enjoyment in doing the things you once loved or felt passion for is a glaring warning sign. Going through the motions of your daily routine and feeling like you are simply suffering through work are things which should not be normalized. Disconnecting yourself from your environment, the people around you, and even your interests clearly shows you are pushing yourself to the point of it all being too much.
These, among other signs, are very clear warnings that you are over-extending yourself. Even when you feel you can or should do so much more, just stop. Take a breath, and allow yourself a moment to relax. Assess how much stress you’re putting yourself under, how much work you’re telling yourself you need to accomplish and ask: is this fair? If not, then taking that break is a good way to start coming back from it but the solution has to be more sustainable.
Ease up on yourself and manage a lighter workload. Find a better balance for your work life, social life, and family life. Make time for your hobbies and interests, even if that hobby is spending hours bingeing a new tv series. Know that your worth extends beyond your productivity and allow yourself to rest.
Do you think people are overworking themselves too often?