BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Many cultures admire busy people and even romanticize an excessive devotion to work.

Anat Lechner, a professor at New York University, is quoted in a BBC News article on the subject. Lechner says, “We glorify the lifestyle, and the lifestyle is: you breathe something, you sleep with something, you wake up and work on it all day long, then you go to sleep. Again and again and again.”

Even in entertainment, characters who give their all to their careers are often idolized or viewed as inspirational.

But is it possible to be too busy?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of U.S. employees report struggling with feelings of extreme stress.

Between work-related anxiety, family duties, social responsibilities, and attempts to keep up with personal health and wellness, it does seem that an increasing number of people are overwhelmed by responsibilities.

Seven signs that you’re too busy

But what are the signs that a person’s to-do list has become too long?

According to experts at sites like Forbes and Balance through Simplicity, these may be indications that you are overwhelmed:

  • You find it difficult to concentrate because you have too much to think about.
  • After work, you still feel like you’re “on” in that you constantly check your work email or other work-based platforms.
  • Even though you’re exhausted at night, you have difficulty sleeping
  • You work overtime on a regular basis
  • You feel like you’re robotically going through the motions of everyday life; it’s as if you’re on autopilot
  • You’ve either lost or gained a significant amount of weight and you feel tired all the time
  • You’re becoming increasingly forgetful

It’s all too easy for someone experiencing these symptoms to assume they’re supposed to ignore what they’re feeling, push through, and continue to go above and beyond when it comes to their careers.

But is that a healthy outlook?

The danger of ignoring symptoms of stress

According to an article from the Cleveland Clinic, one study indicates that, “working more than 55 hours can be attributed to coronary artery disease, a condition of recurring chest pain or discomfort and stroke.”

It adds that being overworked can cause the body’s cortisol levels to increase, which leads to brain fog, high blood pressure, and a number of additional health problems.

The article quotes a psychologist named Dr. Adam Borland who says, “It’s like a car trying to run with a very limited amount of gas in the tank. We’re expecting ourselves to perform physically and cognitively on such a high level but in reality, our reserves are tapped out.”

But if the options of taking a long vacation or getting rid of the sources of one’s stress are not feasible, what can an overworked person do to maintain their health and wellness?

How to combat stress

According to Psychology Today, it may be helpful to:

  • Prioritize the most important aspects of life: Try removing non-essential activates from your daily to-do list
  • Learn to say ‘no’ more often: Saying no is not being unpolite , it’s a key aspect of making healthy choices
  • Avoid overloading your calendar: Consistently leave empty spaces for meaningful tasks and relaxation
  • Take a break in between tasks: After completing one responsibility, if possible, take a coffee/tea break before moving on to the next item on your to-do list.

Though some may believe it’s beneficial to remain busy at all times, this mindset is not encouraged by most healthcare professionals.

For more information on handling stress, visit the CDC’s website here.