How to know you’re taking too much

You’re three coffees a day, countless homework is due this week and you’re late for sports. Oh, and now your boss just texted you asking you to cover tonight’s shift.

There are times when everyone can feel overwhelmed and sometimes that’s unavoidable. However, if this becomes a regular occurrence, it is important to determine if you are taking too much. While some signs may seem more obvious, like feeling stressed or overwhelmed, others are less so.

Without further ado, here are 9 signs that you’re taking too much and what to do about it.

1) You are off with your friends

Of course, information can get lost in group chats when you’re not online for a few hours. However, if you discover breakups a week after the event, it is a sign that you are too absent from your social circle.

What to do about it…

Prioritize time to catch up with friends and socialize each week. Humans are social creatures (usually) and getting together with friends is a great way to relax or let off steam. If you must, build time for friends into your weekly schedule, even for a weekly girls’ night out.

2) You work badly

There’s a saying about “scattering too much” and if your performance is deteriorating, it probably is. Taking on too many tasks can actually have a detrimental effect on your performance, whether in sports, exams, or classes. It’s great to be ambitious and have a good work ethic, but there comes a time when you need to assess whether you might be sabotaging yourself by overworking yourself.

What to do about it…

Focus on the quality, not the quantity, of the work you provide. It might look like: taking fewer shifts during the week, staggering review sessions instead of cramming them into one day, or cutting back on an extracurricular activity.

3) Your sleep pattern is disturbed

If you regularly find yourself exhausted or tossing and turning for hours before falling asleep, chances are your busy schedule is taking a toll on your precious sleep. Keep in mind that both excessive and insufficient sleep are signs of stress. The NHS states that “one in 3 of us suffers from sleep disturbances, with stress, computers and working from home often being blamed”.

What to do about it…

Make it a priority to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night – set an alarm to wake you up and when you need to start getting ready for bed if you have to! Routines take time to cement, but once you start getting the right hours of sleep, research suggests it can be hugely beneficial to your well-being. If you have trouble winding down at night, try setting aside 30 minutes of relaxation before bed. It could be with a hot bath, a book or an episode on Netflix.

4) There is a fluctuating change in your weight or appetite

When you’re constantly late, rushing, or missing meals, it’s a sign that you may not be taking care of your body the way you should.

What to do about it…

Although stress can lead to loss of appetite, try to eat at regular intervals regardless. Your body needs fuel and you don’t want to risk burning out. Plan a good breakfast, a lunch break and a sit-down dinner. Eating with others (family or friends) is a fantastic way to catch up and socialize as well, making you more likely to relax and enjoy your meal.

5) You have a headache that you can’t get rid of

The NHS classifies headaches as one of the main signs of stress. Chances are you will feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Physical symptoms such as headaches are your body’s way of asking for a break.

What to do about it…

Listen to your body! Stay hydrated and take a bottle of water with you during the day. If you are at home, you can take a nap or rest. For some, a walk and some fresh air can help alleviate the stress behind the headache. You can also find information about basic mindfulness on the website of the mental health charity Mind – a popular technique used to help reduce stress and regain self-control.

6) You are easily irritated

If you find yourself breaking everyone and everything, it could indicate that you have too much on your plate. Also a common sign of stress, irritability is a sure sign that you need to simplify your schedule.

What to do about it…

While in the long term it is important to allow more time for relaxation and downtime, you should also find short term strategies. Lashing out at people can hurt your relationships and cause even more stress. Try setting yourself simple limits such as: waiting 5 minutes before responding emotionally to a text, or taking a shower when you feel irritable.

7) You ignored the hobbies you enjoy

If your football or riding boots are athletic cobwebs, it’s pretty clear that you’re disregarding your hobbies and need to set aside time. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a hobby you love! If you’re focusing on studies and improving your resume, remember that a hobby can also enhance your skills.

What to do about it…

Take a step back and look at your weekly schedule. See if there are areas where you could cut your budget to make time for the activities you enjoy. If you’re really struggling, it might help to ask a family member or close friend to try to do the same – some things are just easier to see from an outside perspective. At worst, podcasts and audio recordings are a great way to study on the go if revision is the issue.

8) You are always late

Maybe, like me, you’re late for everything, no matter how hard you try. However, if it doesn’t feel like you or seems to have gotten worse, it might be time to check your diary.

What to do about it…

Sometimes you just don’t have to cram it all into one day. Reassess your responsibilities and commitments, enlisting the help of friends and family if needed. Try to spread out your days so they’re not a caffeine-fueled battle — even if that seems logistically possible.

9) Your hair is oily

Maybe not literally, but if you’ve noticed a lapse in your usual level of self-care, it could be a sign that you’ve taken on too much.

What to do about it…

It looks different for everyone and you know your routines best, but don’t be afraid to take a break and take some time to take care of yourself. You are your own priority.

Overwork can affect individuals in different ways and so there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to tackling the problem. Signs that you’ve taken too much can be physical or emotional, so remember to focus on both your physical and mental health. A good place to start is to simply write out your weekly schedule.

Are you really satisfied with it? Is it durable for 6 months or more? Be selfish with your time, it is precious.