Work stress is a sneaky old thing; it has a way of creeping up on us.
When we’re happy and relaxed, taking a break is no problem. But when we’re hurtling along at a million miles an hour, there’s no way we’ll hit pause.
Never mind that this is the one time that we badly *need* a break.
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Facing a huge backlog of work, we’ll likely plough on and ramp up the gears, galumphing our way through a mass of looming deadlines until we hit burnout.
It’s not a pretty situation – but it is one that can be avoided if we pay attention to a few simple warning signs.
Here, life coach Carole Ann Rice from Real Coaching Co shares the three telltale signs that show you’re investing too much at work. Sound familiar? Scroll down to find out how to break free and ease the burden.
First in, last out
“If you’re arriving at work super early and leaving way past your schedule, you’re there too much,” says Carole.
“You should try and have a balanced schedule where you spend a healthy amount of time relaxing at home and have a solid eight-hour work day. After all, if you’re tired and unmotivated, you’re significantly less likely to be productive, which eliminates those extra hours spent at work.”
It’s my fault
Playing the blame game is not unusual when you’re over-working, according to Carole.
“Seeing everything as your responsibility can have a disastrous effect on the way you work,” she says. “Working is about teamwork and delegation – not about doing everything yourself. It is impossible for one person to manage every aspect of a larger picture, so you need to realise that you aren’t responsible for everything that happens in the workplace.”
“Work should not be more important than your loved ones and those who care about you,” says Carole. “If work is beginning to change the way you interact with people and the relationships you have, something needs to change.
“The cycle can be vicious because workaholics often need prodding from family and friends to seek help when the balance of life is tilted too much toward work.”
What to do next
If any of the above rings true with you, you need to take prompt action in tackling the problem.
Escaping to a beach in Rio (above) is tempting, of course, but it might not be realistic in the short-term.
Instead, think about how you can negate your burden of work duties. Start by leaving work on time, each and every day – a proven recipe for happiness.
Next, speak to your line manager or HR department about how you can spread your work load with other members of the team. It’s their responsibility to make sure you’re not overloaded.
Then, think about how you can gain fresh perspective with something outside work. You need something entirely unrelated – but also very involving – to help you gain distance on your situation.
Many offices run voluntary work schemes that you could sign up to, or you might want to try supersizing your weekends with a vibrant dose of adventure.
When you’re wound up by work, it’s likely you won’t feel like doing anything come Saturday and Sunday. But two days of mindless Netflix bingeing will only let your mind whirr away further; you need a distraction technique.
Finally, consider a career break.
“In our society, we’re lead to believe that only hard work is productive, but I’d argue that rest is just as worthwhile,” says Chloe Brotheridge, anxiety hypnotherapist and founder of calmer-you.com. . “You can’t pour from an empty cup, so taking the time to work on yourself and replenish your reserves could mean you’re in a better position than before you started.”
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This doesn’t necessarily mean lying flat-out on a beach, mind you. Whether you’re canyoning through the Wadi Mujib in Jordan or learning to surf in Cape Town, a short, sharp dash of adventure can do wonders in reviving your energy and creativity levels.
So, start pushing back today and reclaim your work-life for a future full of promise.
Want to break free?
Images: Flash Pack and Shutterstock