You've just signed up for extra projects at work, said yes to plans for the next five Fridays, and agreed to walk your friend's dog while she's away (for the next two weeks). It feels good to be so wanted, needed, and successful. And yet, you soon start feeling like you've spread yourself too thin.
One look at your calendar confirms the sneaking suspicion. It's so covered in ink and scribbles and dates that you aren't sure when your next day off will be. Reality sinks in, and soon you're filled with terror and dread for your busy, busy schedule.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It's normal to want to be all things to all people — the best friend, the hardworking employee, the social butterfly, the helpful neighbor. And yet, saying yes to everything can quickly lead to overwhelm.
So what should life look and feel like instead? "When you have a good balance between your work life, personal life, and social life you feel: centered, grateful, fulfilled, content, energetic, motivated, connected, and stimulated," says Kim Chronister, Psy.D., in an email to Bustle. And that usually means putting an end to 24/7 obligations, as well as learning how to say no. Read on for signs that it's time to do just that.
1. You Are Perpetually Sick
Even if you're one of those rare people with ceaseless energy, a super busy schedule will eventually burn you out. And when it does, it's possible to become more susceptible to sickness. That's because stress releases the hormone cortisol, which can become depleted over time and negatively affect the immune system, according to Diana Kelly on DailyBurn.com. So if you're always sick, that busy schedule might be to blame.
2. You Are Super Irritable
If you've been overwhelming yourself with obligations, then don't be surprised when you start to feel cranky. Irritability is a sign that you're spreading yourself too thin, according to Chronister. This is most likely due to tiredness, as well as resentment for an over-packed schedule. Totally understandable.
3. You Simply Can't Concentrate
Working from sun up to sun down might feel like the productive thing to do. But this plan often backfires, leaving you feeling tired and unable to concentrate. "When you’re too overwhelmed to focus on what’s in front of you, or you can’t remember simple things like a coworker’s name, it could be a sign you’re overworked," said Kelly. Don't let yourself get to this point.
4. You Feel Like Everything Is A Chore
While not everything in life can be fun, it's a bad sign when all your obligations feel like a chore, according to Amanda Rose on the blog ScoutieGirl.com. Whether it's going to see a movie, meeting a friend for lunch, or catching up with family members on the phone, these things shouldn't feel agonizing and terrible. If they do, it may be a sign you need to take a break.
5. You Feel Down In The Dumps
When your schedule is overwhelming, it's not unheard of for depression to come sneaking in. Usually, it's due to the perfect combination of self neglect, a lack of connection with others, plus zero downtime, according to Chronister. These are all things we need in our lives to feel healthy. So try not to skip out on your Neflix nights, or trips to the gym. They are truly necessary for your well-being.
6. You Experience A Breakdown
Obviously, I hope it doesn't get to this point. But if you go too hard for too long, it can lead to an eventual breakdown. Signs that one is coming on include anxiety, behavioral changes, and the inability to think straight, according to Kenny Thapoung on Women's Health. If that sounds familiar, schedule some mental health days, ASAP.
7. You Feel Incredibly Anxious
Your schedule should make you feel happy and invigorated. Not overwhelmed and exhausted. But if it does, then anxiety is often not far behind. "Signs you are spreading yourself too thin include experiencing panic attacks, [and] generalized anxiety," says Chronister. Definitely not worth it.
8. You Never Take Time For Yourself
All of the above shows a lack of self-care, which is the art of taking care of yourself (imagine that). And like or not, that means prioritizing your personal time, just like you would your other obligations. "It's essential that you clock out from work/cleaning/errands etc. at a certain time every day to make room for self-care," says Chronister. Doing so means recharging your batteries, and actually enjoying the things you have planned.
9. You Feel The Days Blurring Together
A busy schedule often means running from one thing to the next, without stopping to smell the proverbial roses. "These are the 'little things,' the day-to-day occurrences and simple activities that we do to enjoy life in the present," said Kiah Cato on EliteDaily.com. Not remaining in the present means the days will fly by, and one week will blur into the next. I know that sounds like a great thing to those of us who are livin' for Friday, but just me — it's not.
10. You Feel Kinda Rundown
Even if you aren't getting full on sick, you still might feel rundown. "You have a constant headache. Or stomach ache. Or congestion," said Rose. "If you just haven’t been feeling 100 percent lately, it could be because you actually are sick. Or it could be because your body is telling you to slow down and rest."
11. You Never Eat A Real Meal
There's nothing wrong with occasionally grabbing yourself something from the Drive-Thru. But when you're doing it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, it's clearly a sign that you aren't prioritizing your health, according to Rose. If you truly don't have time to sit down for a meal, it's high time you rethink your schedule.
I get it that you're busy. But a never-ending, 24/7 schedule is too much for anyone to handle. So make sure you keep an eye out for these sign that you're spreading yourself too thin, and be ready to make some changes to prioritize your time, and your health.
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