I've had the pleasure of working in corporate fitness since 2012. As a trainer and a health coach, I listen to people's stories and counsel them on how to navigate through their stressful life.
Life is not only stressful in the corporate world, but also the bottom end jobs where corporations take advantage of their employees whether it'd be over working them or "accidentally" charging them a fee for cashing their paycheck. Life in America has become all work and no play.
This is part of the American Dream experience, but at some point working too much takes a toll on one's mind, body and soul. Especially for millennials, work has become one's identity and gives them a source of identity and belonging. (Trust me I've been there and broke away from that toxic work-identity relationship.)
Balance is key but many people must learn how to separate work and life, which is not easy to do. Many clients I trained have "golden handcuffs." The compensation is so high or too good that they are bounded to job and it is a priority in their life. At some point, we have to make a decision on what is best for us.
Here are five signs that work is overtaking your life, health and soul.
Your Stress Increases
If you notice you are stressed at all times of the day as well as bringing work home, it is a sign that your work is starting to take a toll on your mental and emotional state. Some people easily disconnect from work, others can't. Our brains are all programmed differently, but some need help whether through meditation or counseling on how to disconnect from their work life.
You Lose Interest in Hobbies & Social Life
Overworked individuals come home flat-out tired because they zero energy left in the tank. This is understandable for people who work too much. Eventually, this snowballs into not having enough energy to do anything or leads into a mild case of depression. When people are too tired they feel like decompressing from work, which leads into decompressing on the weekends and not wanting to socialize.
The best thing for these people is to maintain a social life, because the human emotion is what keeps people going. Being alone, stuck in thought and worry leads people deeper into isolation and depression.
Negative Habits Increase
Do you need pot or alcohol to decompress from work? Are you only craving junk and comfort food? Is your alcoholic consumption increasing? Are you spending less time at the gym? Are you chugging caffeine to get you through the day?
If so, these are signs that work is overtaking your life. Most people who are angst, worried or sad connect to things that comfort or relax them. Many people reach out for substances, which works temporarily, but long-term, has adverse health affects as well as co-dependency problems. Being dependent upon caffeine for energy is a clear indicator that your body is out of balance.
Work is Your Identity
If your happiness levels are correlated and linked to your work accomplishments, it is a sign that too much of your identity is attached to your job performance. What will happen to you if you get fired? Or if a company doesn't like your work?
Most people need to severe the cord of their identity with their work accomplishments. Work is work. It will always be there and there will be another day that contains endless hours of emails, phone calls and meetings. The point is that life is not perfect and the work world is brutal. So why attach your self worth with your work? It is setting one up for disappointment.
Even for me as a blogger, I realize that people critique articles and writers in the most cruel way. I need to keep a sense of personal identity and emotional attachment to my life accomplishments and not just my work.
Your boss won't be by your side in the hospital. Your company may not even exist while you're on your death bed. Work is a temporary experience. Our loved ones, friends and family will be there for us during the lowest moments in life.
You Lose Sleep or Have Sleepless Nights
Sleep is necessary for one's wellbeing. Research shows that some people make worse decisions while sleep deprived than while intoxicated. Losing sleep is a sign that the body and mind is too stressed, out of balanced and overworked.
One sign that an athlete is overtraining is that they lose sleep. Their body's sleep-wake cycle is out of balance because they pushed themselves too hard. The same goes for being overworked, on top of working crazy hours overnight.
Those addicted to caffeine will disrupt their sleep-wake cycle. The body cannot function while doped on a stimulant. It's common sense and our ignorance of the human body makes us egotistical to think that what we ingest and consume can't affect our health.
If you stare at the ceiling overthinking, sleeping pills will not cure your sleep issues. This is a problem rooted to the mind and overthinking. Your brain needs to be retrained to stimulate the "rest and digest" phase of the nervous system to get out of "fight of flight."
Most people need to step back and analyze how their job affects them. There is no perfect job or work place, and many people are stuck in their job until something better comes along. Until that happens, people need to learn how to maintain their stress and actively pursue things that improve their wellbeing.
Trust me on this. I've been there myself as a stressed out insomniac, which is why I ended up, "Finding Om," in India to study yoga to figure out what the hell was going on in my mind, body and soul. Most diseases are rooted to the mind and a lack of spirit or joy in life.
Do you suffer from work-life balances? If so, how has work affected your health and wellbeing?
Elizabeth Rae Kovar M.A. is Author of her memoir, Finding Om and is a Fitness Trainer, Yogi, Reiki Master, Presenter and Lover of Life. To view her portfolio please visit www.elizabethkovar.com