If you are working 50 hours or more a week, research says you have cause for concern. According to an extensive study conducted across three continents by University College London, overwork can increase the risk of stroke by 33 percent and that of coronary heart disease by 13 percent. Another study found that overworking upped the risk of depression by 15 times over a period of three years.
Stress due to overworking can manifest itself in many ways. To avoid it, self-awareness is essential. Take some time out to check if you show signs of these physical, emotional and behavioural changes. Addressing early signs can help you prevent a major burnout.
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You are unable to relax
An inability to unwind or relax even when you are not at work is a sure sign of anxiety due to work. To be productive and efficient, intermittent breaks, relaxation and recreation are essential. Plan to include these for short durations and consciously try to live in the moment.
You are falling sick often
Overworking can lead to lowered immunity levels. You could have a mere flu or body aches, or it could be something more serious like heart issues and depression. Take time to care for your body and mind, be it through exercise or a much-deserved TLC.
You are constantly delayed
If you find yourself racing against time and running late more than usual, it is a sure sign of being overworked. Commit to change, and let others know about it. This will force you to identify activities that are holding you back from finishing work on time. If you feel the need to put in extra effort to see things through the finish line, see if you can delegate work when you can or chunk them into doable bits.
You are easily frustrated
If you’re easily irritated with other people for no apparent reason, you’re probably stressed. You’ll find yourself unintentionally snapping at people and later regretting not being the nice person you used to be. When the fault lies with you, remember to apologise to whoever you were rude to.
General lack of motivation
Overworking could result in a lack of enthusiasm to carry out a task or withdrawing yourself from responsibilities. If procrastination is becoming a part of your repertoire, you need to take stock of the why. You are in need of a change of scene.
You take your work home
No matter how hard you try, you are never able to catch up with the workload, and the work days drag onto late nights. Is it due to lack of time management? Perhaps you are biting off more than you can chew? Dig deeper into the cause.
You pity yourself
You realise how much you do on a daily basis and mope that you don’t get enough credit from the boss and the team. Feeling sorry for yourself and complaining about it is tempting, but it won’t cheer you up. Try to look on the bright side and feel grateful – these help in keeping you motivated.
Your work doesn’t make you happy anymore
You’re excused from this sign if you never loved your job to begin with, but to grow to resent a job you once loved means you’re overworking. Either way, it’s time for you to find a solution. If your first thought when you wake up is resentment of facing the day’s long to-do list, talk to your manager about your problems – he or she is often more understanding than you’d believe.
With blurred lines between professional and personal lives and constant connectivity, it is easy to be overworked and not even realise it. Lack of restful sleep, inactivity, procrastination and lowered participation in activities out of work are all warning signs, too. The next time you are tempted to push the boundaries, watch out for these red alerts and solve them before it’s too late.