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Our society prides hard work so much, it can seem like there's no such thing as working too much. But there absolutely is. An overly demanding work schedule can take a toll on your physical and mental health — and after a while, you're pretty much guaranteed to see signs your life is suffering.
"Being able to spot these warning signs can be tricky because if you are 'go, go, go,' it's hard to slow down enough to have the awareness of unhealthy patterns," therapist Stacey Ojeda tells Bustle. So, she recommends checking in with yourself once a month to ask questions like "When is the last time I saw my family?", "When did I last cook a healthy meal for myself?", and "Do I need to reconnect with friends more?"
You can also ask your friends or family if they're concerned about your work habits. "Just remember that you then need to be receptive to this feedback if you are asking for it," says Ojeda. Another method is to keep a journal of careless mistakes you make and lapses in discipline, which are surefire signs of working too much, athletic coach and business consultant Menachem Brodie tells Bustle.
If you think you might be working too much, here are some signs that you really may need to slow down.
Your workload may be excessive if it impacts your relationships, hobbies, or other parts of your life, Ojeda says. You may find, for example, that you don't have time for your friends and family — or that when you are around them, you're not fully present.
One thing your work should never infringe on is your health. If it's preventing you from having meals, getting enough sleep, or relaxing, you need to make time for these things, Ojeda says.
If you think about work non-stop, that's pretty much the definition of work taking over your life. People with extreme workaholism may find that they're even dreaming about work or waking up to think about it in the middle of the night, career coach Krishna Powell tells Bustle.
Work stress can not only cut into your sleep time but also, more detrimentally, decrease your quality of sleep, says Brodie. Feeling testy during the day and being unable to focus are signs that you're not getting high-quality sleep.
Discipline is a finite resource. If you're using up all of yours at work, you may find yourself slipping into bad habits, says Brodie.
If you're constantly late or habitually forgetting things, you may be using up all your mental energy on work, says Brodie. "These normally routine and 'done' habits begin to slip more and more frequently, as your mental sharpness begins to dull due to being stretched too thin or working too long."
Few people like getting up on Monday mornings, but it's when you dread days that used to excite you that there's a problem. "When we're working too much, on the verge of or in the midst of burnout, we feel this heavy dread hanging over us, or deep in our stomachs," says Brodie. "The work days we used to look forward to and the baristas we used to love having conversations with in the morning now make you feel weary and heavy."
If you notice any of these signs, it may be helpful to use your sick or vacation days, set firmer boundaries at work, or carve out time in your day for self-care.