Everyone can feel a bit overwhelmed now and then. Life can make pretty huge demands of us, especially when the unexpected occurs.
Significant problems arise, however, when that state of being overwhelmed by tasks and “duties” becomes chronic.
If you’ve been running on fumes for a long time, you’re likely doing far more than you’re actually capable of handling. And when that happens, the constant draining stress takes its toll on body, mind, soul, and social life.
Below are some of the most common signs that you are doing too much and need to cut things back significantly for the sake of your own wellbeing.
Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you adopt a healthier mindset when it comes to taking on things and doing things for others. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.
Physical signs that you are doing too much:
These are tangible signs that can be noticed not just by you, but by others around you. They’ll manifest differently for everyone, of course, but it’s likely that if you’re doing too much, you’ll be familiar with at least some of them.
1. Your calendar is completely packed.
There are no gaps in your schedule at all. From the moment you wake up to the second you collapse into bed at night, there’s something to take care of. You have no downtime, and if something arises that needs to be tended to immediately, you’ll need to juggle and rearranging half your life to accommodate it.
2. Pronounced fatigue all the time.
You never feel rested, no matter how much you sleep (when you manage to sleep at all). Feeling tired and drained is your “new normal,” and you don’t have much energy to do anything. Your limbs might seem heavier than they used to be, and you may get exhausted after doing the smallest amount of physical exertion.
You may not even have the strength to do things like lift a saucepan one-handed, or walk up a flight of stairs without needing a rest.
3. Migraines and tension headaches.
You may be living on painkillers because you have a killer headache that just won’t go away. Migraine-like effects such as hypersensitivity to light or sound might be present, and you may feel a tightness around your temples.
Furthermore, you may notice signs of temporal mandibular jaw disorder (TMJ). This can include a tightness or “clicking” in your jaws, along with chronic headache pain, especially on one side.
4. Haphazard eating schedule.
You don’t eat regular meals around the same time every day. In fact, there are some days when you barely eat at all, and others where you might gorge yourself to make up for the previous fasts.
Sometimes you’ll feel lightheaded and realize that you’ve forgotten to eat. Other times you’ll graze all day long and then wonder why you feel off later in the evening.
5. You make unhealthy food choices.
While no food is truly “junk” food, there are some options that are significantly less nutritious or healthy than others.
If you’ve been doing too much, then you probably haven’t been able to devote much time to food shopping and cooking. As a result, your meals tend to be cheap, quick, and dirty rather than healthy.
You may opt for instant meals and takeout or delivery. These tend to be high on flavor and low on nutrition, but won’t exhaust you the way a roast dinner or multi-step meal prep would.
6. You have trouble forming sentences.
You’re often at a loss for words, and struggle to express yourself articulately. You might even resort to hand gestures and guttural sounds as you try to pantomime what you’re trying to get across. There seems to be a blockage between your thought process and your mouth (or hand), so you literally cannot express what you need or want to.
7. You look fairly unhealthy.
Maybe you can’t be bothered with your regular skincare routine so your skin is looking dull and sallow. Or you’re breaking out because you haven’t washed your pillowcases in a few months. You might have dark circles around your eyes, and you’ve either lost or gained a significant amount of weight in a short time.
Either way, you look like you’re not feeling well at all. You may not even notice it when you look in a mirror (if you look in them at all these days), but you might get concerned responses from friends, family members, even colleagues. If your local barista is asking if you’re okay, that’s usually a strong sign that you aren’t.
8. Your hair is thinning.
This can happen to people of any gender, and can be very distressing. If you’re stressed and overworked, and not getting proper rest and nutrition, your hair will be a strong indicator. If it’s looking brittle and listless or fills up your hairbrush on a daily basis, that’s a strong sign you’re doing too much and need to ease off.
9. You’ve been getting ill a lot.
You’re doing so much nonstop and not getting enough rest, and that’s taking its toll on your immune system. As a result, you’ll catch a cold if someone with the sniffles passes within 100 feet of you. You always seem to be fighting something off or recovering from something else.
This exacerbates the fatigue and overall ill health, as whatever you’re sick with might be interfering with nutrient absorption. For example, a sore throat might prevent you from eating much, while a belly bug might stop you from retaining food.
10. Your “to-do” list never gets completed.
It’s immensely satisfying to be able to check completed tasks off a daily “to-do” list, but yours never gets totally checked off. There’s simply too much on it to be able to achieve in a single day, so tasks get carried over onto the next. This is obviously repeated day after day, especially when plans go awry due to unforeseen circumstances.
11. The quality of everything you do is sub-par.
You might have previously enjoyed making great meals for your family or being meticulous with your office work habits. Now they’re getting half-warmed Chef Boyardee on paper plates, and the work you’re submitting is full of mistakes. You just don’t have it in you to put your all into anything you do.
12. Your surroundings are messy.
If you don’t have the time or energy to take care of yourself properly, then you certainly don’t have the means to care for your surroundings.
Maybe you haven’t washed your bed linens for several weeks, or laundry has piled up on every surface around you. Dishes aren’t being washed, dust is piling up in corners, closets and pantry shelves are stuffed with items that you’ve crammed in instead of folding, organizing, or storing properly.
13. Your appearance is disheveled.
In simplest terms, you look a mess. Your clothes might be unwashed or are wrinkled and stained. Your shoes might be covered in muck and your hair has forgotten what combs and shampoo are. Friends might be concerned that you’ve “let yourself go,” as you put zero care into your appearance anymore.
14. Digestive issues are a daily complaint.
We’re not talking about the hit to the immune system that we mentioned earlier, but rather near-constant digestive issues. Maybe you’ve got acid reflux/heartburn on the daily, or you feel like your gallbladder is trying to chew its way out of you.
Depending on your dosha, you might be dealing with IBS-type symptoms like constipation or diarrhea. Alternatively, you might feel nausea at the thought of eating, or feel like you’re starving all the time.
15. You “don’t have time” for things you love anymore.
Hobbies and exercise routines are no longer daily occurrences. Instead, they’re put on the back burner for whenever it is that you might have a moment to spare for them. That means they keep getting pushed back until one day you notice that you can’t squat to pick something up without groaning, and you don’t remember how to do some of your favorite activities.
16. The smallest tasks seem overwhelming.
You might need a few hours to pep talk yourself into moving the wet laundry into the dryer because it seems like an insurmountable task to you. Making breakfast for the kids is akin to scaling Everest. That sock has been lying on the floor for a week because you only notice it once you’ve sat down, and you can’t will yourself to stand up again to toss it in the laundry hamper.
17. You don’t stop until you’re literally injured.
Every nerve in your body might be screaming at you to stop and take a break, but you just have too much to do, so you keep going. And because you’re so depleted, you end up burning your arm on a frying pan, or dropping something on your foot.
Maybe you throw your back out, or get dizzy and fall down the stairs. You just won’t allow yourself to slow down or stop until your body literally gives out on you and forces you to chill.
Mental signs that you’re doing too much:
Now that we’ve covered the tangible physical signs, let’s look at some of the more common mental/psychological ones.
18. Memory loss.
Think of a single mother who calls a child by all the names in the house because she forgets theirs mid conversation. You might find yourself staring blankly at the ATM keypad because you’ve forgotten the PIN you’ve been using for the past decade. You might even re-watch movies or re-read books you’ve already enjoyed because you have absolutely no memory of them whatsoever.
You go to heat up soup in a saucepan and forget about it until the smoke alarm starts wailing at you. Or you’ll be so caught up in what you’re doing that you forget to pick your kid up from soccer practice. You may be multitasking in all directions, but that means that many things slip through the cracks while others are being attended to.
20. Executive dysfunction.
You may find yourself having difficulty understanding things all of a sudden. To you, 2 + 2 might equal zebra because your neurons aren’t firing properly. This can make basic tasks like paying for groceries or figuring out how much water you need to cook rice damned near impossible.
21. Delayed reactions to things.
If you’re burnt out because you’ve been doing too much, you may be seriously checked out in terms of your responses to external stimuli. Someone calls your name and you reply with “huh?” a good minute or so afterwards. Or you touch something hot and don’t flinch away before receiving a significant burn.
22. Inability to focus on a task at hand.
Have you ever been reading a book, only to realize that you’ve read the same sentence half a dozen times but you don’t remember it at all? That can happen with just about any task.
Maybe you’re not able to focus because you have a million other thoughts vying for center stage. Or you’re so sleep deprived that you don’t have the bandwidth to process what you’re doing.
Emotional signs that you’re doing too much:
When one is doing too much, their emotional state can take a significant hit as well. See if any of the signs below ring true for you.
23. You can’t “turn off” at night.
Regardless of how exhausted you may feel, you just can’t relax when it’s time for bed at night. You may have all manner of stressful thoughts breakdancing in your skull so you can’t wind down and get your much-needed rest.
In fact, you may find yourself increasingly more insomniac. You’ll have trouble falling asleep, which will stress you out and keep you from sleeping, etc.
24. You resent the people around you.
You might look around at other people in your life who are having fun, or resting, or are otherwise not as depleted as you are, and feel immense resentment for how happy they seem.
Sure, you might not be asking for help with your workload, but you’ll definitely resent others for not being as laden down as you are. You may even resent pets for demanding your time and energy for such selfish demands as food, water, and minimal exercise.
25. You may feel anxious or jittery.
Do you find yourself flinching easily, either because you’re being interrupted constantly or because there are loud noises around you? You might feel perpetually on edge, or worried that you’ll get yet another obligation or task dumped on you at any moment.
26. You’re emotionally unstable.
Your “base normal” state might be very calm and stoic, but now you find yourself bursting into tears at the slightest provocation. You may get irritated or angry very quickly, and snap at your loved ones when they don’t truly deserve it.
27. You feel like you’re not doing what you want in life.
This can go along with resentment or depression, but centers around the idea that you exist for other people’s benefit, rather than your own goals and wants.
You’re not working a job you enjoy or pursuing interests that you like. Rather, your world revolves around tending to other people’s needs, with your own not even making it to the foreground.
28. You feel like you haven’t had fun in known memory.
When was the last time you did something you truly enjoy? Have you gone out and done something fun, whether that’s wandering around in the woods for hours, going vintage shopping, playing games with friends, or binge-watching Netflix? Or does your life revolve solely around duty and obligation?
29. You’re terrified of letting anyone down.
This type of “people-pleasing” behavior is common in those who have grown up in stressful or abusive home environments. Even though you know you’re overburdened and burnt out, you’re devastated at the thought of letting your loved ones down.
30. You feel as though you’re the only one capable of doing things properly.
Those who feel that they don’t have a great deal of control in their own lives often try to control their surroundings. This can include taking control of things like office work, cooking, cleaning, childcare, and household management because they’re worried that other people won’t (or can’t) do the job as well as they can.
If they’re exhausted and ask for help with something like the dishes, then they’ll micromanage and be hypercritical of perceived mistakes. That’s not the right way to load the dishwasher. Or that particular pot has to be soaked before it’s scrubbed.
They might go so far as to do certain chores all over again because the person who did them first just didn’t do a thorough enough job
Some are also afraid of the ramifications that can ensue if things are done wrong by someone else. If a spouse or child breaks an object because they didn’t care for it properly, then whose responsibility is it to replace or repair it?
Social signs that you’re doing too much:
In addition to the indicators mentioned above, some of these social signs are quite common.
31. You keep breaking plans with others.
The mere idea of having to socialize, or being locked into an expectation to attend a gathering or similar has you shutting down internally. You can’t bear the thought of how much energy you’ll have to expend talking to other people.
Additionally, you can’t trust yourself to show up on time, or be properly responsible for any kind of obligation.
32. Being the opposite of your natural lean, or extreme about it.
However it is you’re normally like, you might be the complete opposite lately. Or your normal behavior might have become quite extreme.
For example, someone who’s normally extraverted and bubbly might now be quiet and withdrawn. As for the extremism, someone who’s usually a quiet introvert might pretty much disappear from the world. They may not socialize with anyone at all, and shut down into themselves as much as possible.
33. Your social interactions revolve around your obligations.
The only time you interact with other people is when you’re doing something that you have to do. For instance, you might not have time to get together with your friends or extended family members, so you’ll only get to have superficial chit chat with the other parents at your kids’ martial arts or dance classes.
34. You complain about everything.
When and if someone engages you in conversation, this is generally taken as an opportunity to vent. If someone dares to ask how you’re doing, you’ll explode with all the things that are going to crap around you.
A lot of people take on too much in order to fill gaps in their lives. In the same way that someone who feels hollow emotionally might overeat to fill that space, many people who are grieving or feel at a loss about their own lives keep their days packed from morning ‘til night. After all, if they don’t have any free time on their hands, they won’t be forced to analyze what’s going on and actually deal with it.
This type of manic, task-focused escapism can cause serious long-term damage. At least if you’re looking this up now, that means that you’re aware that there’s a problem. That also means that there’s time to turn it around.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed because you are doing too much, then identify why you’re taking all this on and why you haven’t delegated tasks to others. Or, if you have no idea why you’re in this state, you might need some help to sort it out. Don’t be afraid to seek out a good therapist who can help you unravel this thread.
A third party might be able to see patterns of behavior that you aren’t aware of. Furthermore, they may have insight as to the root of the issue: how you got here to begin with. From there, you can work together to determine the best path forward.
BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.
While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.
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