Can you tell when you are working too much?
If you enjoy your work, (or not), or simply just a workaholic – this is for you.
Sometimes we are so into our work, or when we want to finish something to feel like we have achieved something finally, we forget that we work too much. Our body is overloaded with stress and fatigue, our mind is spinning and cannot relax.
No matter how strong our willpower is sometimes, our body is way too smart to help us! Our body needs to rest and knows how to give out signs when we are SUPPOSED to rest.
Stress is recognized as the number #1 killer, as it is related to many chronic diseases such as heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, and more.
So is it worth it to let all the work stress to take over your life?
I am also guilty of working too much sometimes, and my body will remind me all the time. In the spirit of Thai New Year, today, I want to share a few personal tips to recognize when you are working too much and what you can do about it.
1. Your back hurts
Or your shoulder. Or your legs. Or your eyes. Or your entire body. Feeling achy and stiff? Feel pain shooting up from your legs up to your hip and lower back (be careful there)? Feeling dry eyes from staring at a screen too long? Yup, these are all signs that your body is exhausted!
Our body loves to give us signs to decipher when something is out of balance, which we like to call symptoms in this modern world. When your back hurts, would it be that you have been sitting too many long hours in front of a computer, or have you been lifting heavy things in a wrong way?
Time out: Get a massage at a spa!
Besides all the amazing benefits of what massage can do to your body physically, it’s like you are taking your body on a date. Notice I say getting a massage at a SPA, and not just a regular massage clinic. Upon entering a spa, you will smell the aroma oil burning, feel the cold towel on your face, sip a glass of herbal tea, and your body and your mind will start to relax. Put the phone away and turn it on silent. Even better if you can leave the phone in the locker instead.
Remember to tell your therapist which area of your body you would like to focus on, and be sure to voice out any concerns if your therapist’s pressure is too soft or too strong. Your spa therapist is there to help you get better and not worse. After your body relaxes, you can now go back to work, feeling calmer.
2. You eat while you work, at night
Rewind back a few years (or more) when my friends just graduated from college, a lot of them went into the finance industry and they worked really long hours. A lot of times they would have to eat at their desk at night to keep on going.
Obviously, I know this lifestyle is not for me, that’s why I am into spas, not banks. But even then, sometimes I fall into the same trap, pushing myself to finish something, and I immediately suffer the consequences later.
What’s wrong with this? I’m not saying that you cannot work after dinner, though preferably it should be time to wind down your day, not to wind you up. Stress can lead to many digestive problems.
Did you know that your stomach is the only organ in your body that is hollow? Besides what you eat physically, this is also where you store swallowed-up emotions and stress. If whatever you are working on is also served on plate, do you realize what you are eating? Stress – straight into the stomach.
TIME OUT! Invite a friend for dinner!
Or a coworker. If you really have to go back to work after your dinner, at least give yourself a dinner break, like you would for a lunch break. A lunch break is usually an hour, so give yourself an hour dinner break, or even longer if you are not getting overtime paid.
A change of scenery would definitely help to break you out from the work zone (or your mind), and inviting a friend means you’ll have to socialize and connect with another human being. This can help to shift your work mode brain into socializing mode, and hopefully – more relaxed.
3. You can’t sleep well
There are many factors of why a person cannot fall asleep or sleep well. Work stress can be one of these factors, if you find yourself tumbling and turning, unable to switch off the brain chatter in your mind.
I get that sometimes. When I have some ideas in my head and fall to sleep, it seems like I keep thinking of these ideas even when I am sleeping. It’s not the same as dreaming, because it actually feels like I haven’t slept well for the whole night.
I know how cranky I get if I don’t get a good night sleep. Or thinking it the other way, I am completely refreshed when I get enough rest, both physically and mentally.
Time out! Write things down before you sleep
If you get suddenly inspired before falling to sleep, or if you have a list of things to do in your head that you are afraid you may forget, write them down!
Get a cute notebook and a pen and put it by your bedside table. Even the Notes app in your smartphone would work.
Personally I still like to write things down instead of using a phone, but my Iphone has helped me a lot when I don’t have a pen and paper around.
Once you write down the things in your mind, it’s like getting these ideas out from your system into the different space. Think about it as transforming something formless into form (this is how I got the name museflower).
By the way, it doesn’t have to be just ideas. If you have a lot on your mind, it’s great to write things down in your journal for some daily reflection. Keep on writing and don’t stop for grammar or spell check. Your journal is your inner world.
4. You feel frustrated but you don’t know why
At times from working long hours, we get a lot of pent up energy stored in the body. Needless to say, if we don’t do something about it, we get frustrated easily. Some examples: you crave for sweet things because life has become too bitter; your patience and tolerance level for others have gone down; you really want to punch someone in the face.
TIME OUT! EXERCISE TIME!
One way to release pent up frustration is by exercising and sweating it out. From one of my all time favorite show – Cesar Millan’s The Dog Whisperer, dogs are shifted into a more calm and submissive state when they release their pent up energy through exercising.
I know I feel the same. The first time I tried Thai Boxing, I almost fainted after like 10 minutes. But before I fainted, I really enjoyed channeling all my energy into fists and kicks. I’m absolutely no expert in Thai boxing nor do I claim to be. I understand how it feels when we can channel our focus and energy into a movement or exercise, it is meditation on its own, with the added benefits of getting fit and into shape too, of course.
When you finish, you will realize you have no need to punch anyone in the face anymore. Now, take a cleansing and refreshing shower, and viola, frustration is gone!
5. Life seems boring and uneventful
When you feel that life just loops and reloops in the same routine, it’s definitely time to take a major time out! Do you feel like you need to break out from a rut?
Well your feelings are telling you something!
I know for myself that I cannot stay in one place for too long, or else I’d get bored. I think it’s because I’ve always worked and lived in the same place. In the past when I was working in the gorgeous Koh Kood, guests would constantly comment how lucky I was to work in such a paradise island. I always answered the same – that work is work, though I was lucky that the view of my office was not someone’s else office in another building.
At the time when I was working in Koh Kood, I went to Bangkok once a month just for a change of scenery, and to buy stuff that I needed.
Even now in Chiang Rai I go back home every two to three months. And if I work for 6 weeks straight (with only one or half day off every week), my body starts to give me signs to take a break, like my stomach starts to feel unwell, or a headache starts to hit.
Something inside me tells me that it’s time to go somewhere else and be inspired.
TIME OUT! TRAVEL!
Remember when I said that a change of scenery helps, because it shifts your brain into a different mode? Traveling to a different place is an ultimate change of scenery. You are in a different country, speaking and listening to a different language, and eating different types of food. How exciting! Your brain will be too busy focusing on the new, and you will be too busy to think about work.
Can’t afford to go away for so long? Plan a weekend trip by visiting a nearby town. There are so many travel websites that offer last minute hotel rates at deep discounts.
Can’t even afford to go away for one night? Be a tourist in your own city and explore an area of town that you would have never gone to, because it’s too touristy. Try out a new restaurant, visit a new art exhibition, watch the latest movie in the cinema. Do something that you normally wouldn’t do. The trick is to trick your brain that you are in a new city, and that you are breaking out from a rut!
I get truly inspired when I am traveling, partly because my mind is fully open and because I am having fun!
Remember to tune in and listen to your body for signs and feelings. When we are working too much and over stress our body and mind, our body always finds ways to tell us.
Treat your body as a temple, because we only get one body this life!
How about you? How do you know when you are working too much, and what is your time-out solution? Please feel free to share and leave your comment below!
Considering a retreat or a spa getaway holiday?
Image shout-out: I know they don’t need credit, but Death to the Stock Photo simply deserves credit for sharing their hi-quality hi-res stock photos for FREE. Thank YOU!