April is Stress Awareness month and so we have been publishing content to help our readers recognize and deal with stress. Earlier this month we publ
April is Stress Awareness month and so we have been publishing content to help our readers recognize and deal with stress. Earlier this month we published Yoga for Stress and Anxiety: What You Need to Know by She Boss Cherise Smith. We have another guest blog for you. Cassandra Hill, owner of Holistic Living Consulting wrote this awesome piece about overwork and what you can do about it.
As entrepreneurs, especially when you’re just starting out, you work countless hours in your business. Entrepreneurs often have to function as graphic designers, accountants, administrative assistants, and just about everything else for their business. Many entrepreneurs are even holding down full-time jobs which means they spend over 40 hours per week working. At the same time, besides business, you have other responsibilities such as family.
Before you know it, you’re not taking the time to unwind and destress and so you’ll start experiencing symptoms of stress or burnout. However, more often than not, entrepreneurs love what they do! They have no problems putting in the long hours. However, working too many hours may be more dangerous than you think.
Why is Overwork Dangerous?
Well, overwork is the single greatest risk factor for occupational disease, and it’s responsible for three-quarters of a million deaths each year from heart conditions and stroke.
You might hope that the pandemic would have helped the situation since so many employees gained back the hours they used to spend commuting. However, it may have had the opposite effect.
However, remote work does not solve the problem of overworking. As a matter of fact, research shows that the average workday lengthened by almost 50 minutes after the initial stay-at-home orders. Researchers also found that almost 70% of these new remote employees are working weekends as well.
While your health is the primary reason for watching your schedule, your productivity is also at stake. Multiple studies show that the ideal workweek is about 38 hours long, and your performance declines steadily after that.
Renee Zung, vice president of career services at career management firm Keystone Partners told SHRM that it’s not clear whether or not an increase in the average workday negatively affects the employee’s wellbeing. However, Zung also pointed out that besides heart attack and stroke, stress can:
- Cause depression
- Result in carpal tunnel syndrome, back issues, and vision issues by sitting too long at the computer
- Cause hearing loss from having earbuds in all-day
How Do I Know If I’m Overworking Myself?
You may not know you’re overworked. However, you will usually have a plethora of symptoms. We can’t cover all the signs of overwork here. However, here are some ways you can tell if you’re overworking yourself:
- Missed periods- Overwork is not the only cause of missed periods. However, if you’re taking on too much at work, that may be the reason you’re missing your period. Elizabeth Ann Shaw, MS told Bustle that skipped periods can be an indicator that your body is overworked and needs rest. In addition to getting rest, it’s advised that you also see a doctor.
- A change in mood- If you notice yourself being grouchy, sad, angry, or any other negative emotion. It may be due to overwork. Dr. Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine physician was quoted in Bustle saying, “Symptoms like fatigue, irritability, depression and loss of focus may all be signs of pending exhaustion”.
- Feeling disconnected- According to Asana, if you’re feeling disconnected from your family and friends, it may be due to overwork.
- Reduced quality of work- If you’re usually great at your job or in your business but you notice that there is a reduction in the quality of your work you may be suffering from overwork according to Asana. Your work quality could be reduced by brain fog. Bustle says that brain fog may lead to difficulty concentrating and
- Anxiety- Asana says that if you have anxiety before starting your job, it could be due to overwork. This can even manifest on Sunday nights because you’re dreading work the following day.
- Sleeping problems- If you’re having problems falling asleep or getting enough sleep, you could be overworked. Insomnia is a common sign of stress in general. In addition to that, sleepiness and a lack of energy can also be signs of overwork and stress.
Steps to Avoid Overwork
You have so much to gain by leaving work on time, even if you work for yourself. Try these suggestions you can do on your own and with your boss and coworkers.
1. Consider Your Attitude
Do you brag about being busy? You may be trying to convince others that you’re important. You’ll probably find more purpose and happiness by pursuing your own personal goals and developing close relationships.
2. Plan Your Day
Schedule your time, so you can avoid rushing around during your last hours. Focus on your most urgent and significant tasks. You can use a variety of tools to plan your day including apps, a whiteboard, or an old-fashioned notepad and pen. Find the method that works best for you.
3. Set Realistic Goals
Maybe you’re attempting to do too much. Track your time to assess how long you really need for routine activities. It’s often longer than you realize.
4. Minimize Distractions
Zoom calls and paperwork can consume your workweek. If possible, cut back on nonessential meetings, and mute your phone when you need to concentrate. Take breaks before you become fatigued.
5. Use Technology.
Automation and apps could help you work smarter. Set up customized news alerts and use software to sort emails and proofread documents.
6. Observe Boundaries
It will be easier to relax if you keep your work separate from your personal life. If you work at home, create a designated space for office equipment and documents. It can be a whole room or a corner of your living room. Try to avoid using your bedroom.
7. Learn to Transition
Create rituals that help you to switch your mindset away from work at the end of the day. If you work in an office it may be easier because you can physically leave the location. However, if you’re a remote worker, get up from your desk at the end of the day. In addition to that, working in your bed is not a great idea.
Looking for activities to do after work? You could take an exercise class in the evening or listen to podcasts.
8. Practice self-care
Overwork can cause you to neglect yourself. Be sure to prioritize sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise.
Protect your health and wellbeing by avoiding excessive hours at work and maintaining balance in your life. You’ll accomplish more with less stress.
If you’re looking to achieve balance, you can download the How to Achieve Balance in Life Checklist. It can serve as a tool to structure your life in a manner that works for you.
About the Author
Cassandra Hill, the author founded her company Holistic Living Consulting in 2018. After being misdiagnosed as being anemic for over a decade doctors confirmed it was actually systemic lupus.
Beginning the treatment for systemic lupus required leaving corporate America. Eventually becoming tired of being sick Cassandra took control of life and developed a regimen that sparked remission.
This story shows a woman that the power to change her life is in her hands. When provided with accurate information decisions can be made that will shift your trajectory.
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