Doing Too Much: Signs You Need Slow Down
Chasing your dreams is hard work that requires a lot of time, shifting of priorities, and sometimes a side hustle. But while you’re juggling different demands, it’s important to check in with yourself to make sure you’re not overdoing it.
Dear White People Vol. 2 dropped earlier this month, and I’ve already binged through the whole season. While watching, one background character, Brooke, gave me something to chew on. Brooke is Lionel’s overachieving journalism rival. She’s extremely intense (she mentioned in an argument that she’s packed her schedule to the point that she only has two free hours per day) and will get to the bottom of a story by any means necessary. While most people would be frantically trying to find free time to chill, Brooke was still looking for something else to do.
That’s when it occurred to me that Brooke is a classic case of doing too much. A person who always has to be doing something and can’t sit down. A person who will eventually run out of steam and burn out. While Brooke may be a fictional character, her archetype has some basis in reality. You probably know a Brooke. You might be Brooke. If you are, here a few signs you need to take a break before you have a breakdown.
Inconsistent Sleep Patterns
One of the first things to be affected when you’re overworked is your sleep. First, you’ll find yourself staying up later and later and when you do get to bed, you have trouble staying asleep. Overall, you’re not getting much reparative rest, if any. This might not necessarily be a textbook case of insomnia, but your sleep patterns are taking a major hit.
Spreading yourself too thin means that you have less energy to get everything done. Some days you might not have enough energy to function as a contributing member of society because you are so incredibly tired.
It’s hard to keep everything straight when you have too much to juggle. Important information may be harder to retain.
Lack of Focus
When you have a long list of to-dos for the day, it can be hard to give everything the attention that it deserves. That’s because you’re never really allowing yourself to concentrate on the task at hand without having the next task in the back of your mind. And to top it off you’re overworked and fatigued.
Overworking yourself can lead to constant feelings of worry, nervousness, and dread. You could be prone to feelings of uneasiness about some imagined consequence or outcome. For some reason, you’ll feel like you’re on shakey ground without being able to identify a direct cause for your worry. This anxiety can manifest as panic attacks.
Loss of Appetite
Eating is often the last thing on your mind when you’re busy, so it’s easy to miss meals. Eventually, that pattern could turn into actual loss of appetite, which could result in weight loss.
One of the best ways to deal with being overworked is to take a break. Give yourself a mini-vacation to get away from all of the things that are causing you stress and re-center. When you feel able, look at all of your responsibilities and assess your ability to get everything done and re-prioritize. Also, consider whether you need to drop a few things from your ongoing agenda. There’s always something you can delegate to someone else or omit from your task list altogether.
It could also be helpful to talk to someone, like a professional therapist, about what is overwhelming you. No matter what you have to make yourself and your overall wellbeing the top priority.