There is such a thing as working too much. Long hours at the office can put a strain on your relationships, but even if you’re working the same amount of time you always have, it’s possible that you are working too much. Perhaps you’re thinking about work even when you’re home, or maybe you’re just working too hard when you’re at work without giving your body or brain a chance to unwind between tasks. One thing’s for sure: If you’re working too hard, your body will let you know. The most important thing that you can do is listen to your body in these situations so that you can adjust your work-life balance to avoid burning out. So what are the signs your body is overworked? And, most importantly, what can you do about it?
You Feel Tired All the Time
One of the first signs your body gives you that it’s working too hard is a feeling of exhaustion. Of course, sometimes exhaustion comes from the obvious—not getting enough sleep—but if you’re sleeping a healthy amount and still wake up feeling more tired than when you went to bed, your work-life balance is likely what’s at issue.
Exhaustion is often a physical sign of a mental issue: namely, that your brain has been working in overdrive. Maybe you’ve been given some tough deadlines to crack, or maybe you’re working through a solution to a tough problem. Either way, the chances are high that you’re thinking hard about work even when you’re home. So what’s the solution?
One solution is to prioritize relaxing. Meditation is a great way to let go of your mental stressors and focus on being present in your current moment. And if you’ve been having trouble falling asleep, meditating before bed can help you let go of all the to-do lists you’re compiling in your head at night.
You Have Aches and Pains
Chronic pain is a real issue for a lot of people. Unfortunately, while some chronic pain is medicinal, far too much chronic pain is caused by overworked bodies trying to communicate to their owners—and those owners not listening. If you frequently suffer from bodily aches and pains, there’s a good chance that you are overworked.
In this case, you may be too stressed out about your job. When you’re stressed out, your body tenses, a biological response to stress that prepares your body to run if it needs to. But when you’re constantly stressed out, your muscles are constantly tense and may even forget how to relax. This can cause a chronic pain that can then lead to even more stress.
Free Your Spine has great information on the things you can do to help relieve chronic back pain caused by stress. But if you don’t also mitigate your stressors, you’ll be right back where you started in no time flat. So, while you’re working on relieving the symptoms of stress, you should also work towards relieving the stress itself. This may mean having a conversation with your supervisor about reducing your workload or making a point to put down your phone when you’re home.
You’re Angry or Depressed
Anger and depression are both clear signs that your body has reached its breaking point with the amount of work that you’re giving it. Anger and depression can be life-altering, and they typically come when you’ve been overworked for a long time and have continuously overlooked the other signs your body has given you about it.
If you have chronic anger or depression, you very likely need to make a change in your life. This may mean having a conversation with your spouse about changing the division of labor at home so that you can have more time to unwind at the end of the day, or it may mean considering a change in careers.
It’s one thing to have a strong work ethic. It’s another thing entirely to let work consume your life. The purpose of work is to help you fund the things that you want to do. But when you’re working so much that your body starts rebelling against you, you’ve gone too far. After all, if you can’t enjoy the life you’re affording for yourself, what’s the point in being able to afford it? By spending more time helping your body feel good and less time working yourself into the ground, you’ll be more fulfilled overall, even if it means having to give up certain luxuries in the short term.