10 Indicators You Need to Switch Off from Work
Everyone will go through stressful periods at work when you might feel overwhelmed, and the list of tasks seems never-ending. People are now working longer hours, with the increase in remote working blurring the lines between work and personal time, and deteriorating our work life balance.
If you’re working too much, you could start to suffer from burnout, feeling exhausted, stressed and unmotivated. It’s vital that you take care of your health and wellbeing at work – what can start as small periods of overwork can develop into more serious physical problems when stress and exhaustion become the norm.
Below are ten indicators that you should look out for that might suggest that it’s time to switch off from work, take a break, and find ways to improve your work life balance.
You Have Difficulty Sleeping
We should all ideally get between seven to eight hours of sleep per night. If you’re struggling to achieve this, or if you’re regularly taking naps during the day to counteract the lack of sleep at night-time, it could be a sign that you’re overstressed. Fatigue and insomnia are both burnout symptoms, and you might find you struggle to fall asleep because you’re thinking about work and can’t disconnect. Not sleeping properly will result in you feeling tired and unproductive the next day and could mean you feel even more overwhelmed with work.
Whilst difficulty sleeping might be part of a larger problem, one way you can try to improve your sleeping pattern is to get enough exercise during the day. Exercising outside in the fresh air can really help you to get a good night’s sleep, and can be easily incorporated into your day, especially if you work from home. You should also aim to create a relaxing bedtime routine, to help you to shut down and fall asleep. If you still find yourself unable to sleep, you should consider whether it’s time to take a break from work to help you to reset.
You Find it Difficult to Focus
Another sign that you might need to take a break from work is that you find it difficult to focus and concentrate on tasks. It might be that you just don’t have the energy to finish tasks, or it might be that you feel so overwhelmed with how much you have to do that you struggle to get started.
It might help to have somewhere to write down and organise your tasks, like the Leitz Magnetic Glass Whiteboard. Taking some time to list tasks and prioritise them could help you to focus on one thing at a time, in the order they should be completed. Or a cluttered working environment could mean you’re constantly distracted and unable to focus on the task at hand. In that case, you might need to organise your desk with something like the Leitz Desk Organiser, which also includes a wireless charger. If you still find yourself unable to concentrate on your work after you’ve organised your workstation, it might be an indication that it’s time to take a break.
You Dread Going to Work
You might occasionally suffer from the ‘Sunday scaries’ where you feel a sense of dread when you look ahead to the working week. You might have one or two tasks in your role that you don’t enjoy or that you find boring. However, if you constantly dread going to work and you can’t wait for the working day to finish, it might be part of a bigger problem.
If you used to enjoy your job but now find that it brings a sense of anxiety and frustration, it could be a sign that you’re overworking and need to take a break. Whilst you might not be able to enjoy every single part of your job, you shouldn’t dread the working week – taking a break can help you to find joy in your work again.
You Feel Like There’s Always Too Much to Do
If you begin every working day feeling like there’s too much to-do and not enough time, you’re probably overworked. Overworking will make you less productive, as you’ll be spread too thin to complete tasks to the best of your ability. You’ll also likely feel overwhelmed by what you have to do, which can result in you feeling more stressed, anxious, and fatigued. This could also affect your personal productivity, as well as your work projects.
If you feel like you never make progress with your to do list, it could be a sign that you need to take a break. You might think that taking a break will just result in more work when you return – instead, you should speak to your manager and your team about redistributing work so it’s more manageable and so you can take a break knowing things are taken care of.
You Feel Physically Unwell
When you’re suffering from burnout or chronic stress, you’ll notice physical symptoms in your body. You might get frequent headaches, or stomach aches, or feel nauseous. Stress will also affect your immune system, so you might find that you suffer from a cold that you can’t get rid of, as your immune system isn’t able to fight it properly.
Physical symptoms could be a sign of an underlying health condition, so you should always speak to a doctor if you’re concerned. But taking a step back from work and taking a break could also help your body to restore. Ignoring physical symptoms could result in more serious problems, so it’s best to address them early on.
You Don’t Have Clear Boundaries Between Work and Personal Life
Working long hours, checking emails outside of your working day and always being available for work are all signs that you might need to improve your work life balance. You might feel that you need to always be available to deal with work because of how much you have to do, but you will need to take time off so you can reset and recharge. Always dealing with calls and messages from work will also have a negative impact on your personal and family life.
Taking a break and setting clear boundaries between work and personal time will mean you can actually work more productively, and you’ll be less likely to make mistakes when you’re less tired and overwhelmed. It can be more difficult to set these boundaries when you work from home and the lines are more blurred. Make sure you have specific times when you switch off your devices and work notifications, and make sure your team knows that you won’t be available during those periods.
You’re Always Irritable
When you’re overworked and overstressed, you could find that you’re much more irritable than usual. It might be that you lose patience with your colleagues or clients, or it could be affecting your family life, and you’re losing patience with your loved ones. You might find that you’re more critical or cynical.
This increased irritability could be a result of you not having enough personal time to spend on yourself, or it could just be a symptom of the stress and anxiety that work is causing you. When you find yourself losing patience quicker than normal, it could be an indication that you need to take a step back from work.
You’re Slipping into Unhealthy Habits
When you’re working too much, you could find yourself slipping into unhealthy habits that just exacerbate the symptoms of burnout. It might be that you eat junk food instead of nutritional meals, which just make you feel more tired. Or it could be that you skip meals entirely, and don’t give your body the nourishment it needs to function. You might rely on alcohol to help switch off at the end of the day, but this will likely result in you feeling worse the next day and not being able to focus.
Although you might get a short-term reward from these unhealthy habits, eating a healthy balanced diet, reducing your alcohol intake and generally looking after your physical health will help reduce the symptoms of burnout. When you find unhealthy habits becoming tempting, take a look at your workload to see what you can do to reduce the amount you have to do, and so decrease the stress you feel.
You Lose Your Passion for Your Hobbies
Feeling over-stressed at work will inevitably have an effect on your personal life too. If you find that you don’t have the energy or motivation to take part in activities that you usually would, like going to the gym or creative hobbies, it could be an indication that you need to take a break from work.
When you suffer from burnout, you’ll likely be exhausted and unmotivated in all aspects of your life, not just for your work tasks. If you’ve found you’ve lost your passion for your hobbies as well as your work, it could be a sign that you need to improve your personal life balance and take a step back from work.
You’re Spending Less Time with Family and Friends
Feeling overworked and stressed can lead you to withdraw and spend less time with your family and friends. It might be because you need to improve your family life balance and set clear boundaries between work and personal time, or it might be that you feel irritated and unmotivated to spend time with other people.
Spending time with your loved ones is an important part of looking after your mental wellbeing and keeping a healthy mind. If your relationships are beginning to suffer because of the stress you feel at work, you should think about taking some time for a break.
Leitz knows how important it is to achieve a good work life balance, for your mental and physical wellbeing. Our range of work from home essentials can help you to keep organised and on top of your workload, so you’re always ready to tackle the working day.
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