10 Warning Signs You’re Doing Too Much

Are you like me and burning the candle at both ends over-committed yourself to classes, a day job, writing, blogging, and other activities? Perhaps you or a loved one has had a sudden, unexpected health problem. Or you’ve simply gotten worn down by the day-to-day things that get under your skin. How do you know when you’re doing too much?

Lynette M Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, author action suspense science fiction
Burn courtesy of Patrick Feller on Flickr commons

Now you barely have the energy to get through the day. Or you’ve caught the current flu bug or cold and you can’t seem to get over it.  Your body and mind are screaming ENOUGH!

Don’t let get to the point that you feel like a pile of burnt matches.  Know the signs that the stress is getting too much.

Lynette M. Burrows, author; Lynette M. Burrows, science fiction author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-suspense science fiction
matches courtesy of Debs on flickr commons

Ten Warning Signs That You’re Working Too Hard:

  1. Your Productivity Declines – you put in more hours, yet get less and less done.
  2. No Time – for a favor, a commitment, a date with your friend or sweetheart, or even for your cherished indulgences.
  3. You Forget – to eat, an appointment, where you put that report or your keys.
  4. Things Are Out of Control – you’re always late; your normally neat desk is a mess; the dirty dishes are mutating in the sink; the stacks of bills or laundry (or both) are quickly becoming a mountain you can’t climb.
  5. Lack of Focus or Creativity – you flit from one task to the next, never finishing and never find a solution; you struggle to come up with new ideas, solutions to problems, or how to express an idea.
  6. Loss of Joy – you are beginning to dread tasks that normally you find enjoyable.
  7. Sleep Issues – you can’t sleep; can’t stay asleep; or you want to do nothing but sleep.
  8. Irritability – you snap at loved ones unjustly; you find yourself ‘just one more stupid driver’ short of total road rage.
  9. Health Issues – you have migraines or stomach problems on a daily basis; your acne, arthritis or asthma flares more frequently.
  10. Warnings from Friends and Family – you haven’t talked in weeks; your significant other tiptoes around the house afraid to disturb you; friends and family tell you you’re always busy, or they sit you down for an ‘intervention.’

You don’t want to know how up-close and personal I know all those warning signs. Really, you don’t. 🙂 But you do want to know what you can do when you recognize the warning signs in yourself.

Five Things to Do to Beat Stress:

1. Check Your Body

  • Are you fatigued despite getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep? Is your urine dark? The first sign of dehydration is fatigue. Be certain to drink plenty of water every day.
  • Is your resting heart rate up? Is your blood pressure up? If yes, be certain you get more sleep and more exercise. It’s not a matter of ‘when I can fit it in,’ it’s a matter of get it done or pay a price.

2. Re-prioritize – take a day to look at what you want to accomplish.

  • Look hard at your list. Are there some things that really don’t need to be done right now? Put them aside.
  • Is there some pieces of what you do that you can outsource? Hire a laundry lady or a housekeeper; have the secretary type up those letters; or you can ask family to help with tasks for a while.

3. Make a new plan. Break the task into smaller chunks that are more manageable. Make goals that allow you time to do the next four items on this list.

4. Schedule Fun – do something you love. Even just one hour a week can help. Take a walk, a swim, a jog. Meditate. Listen to music. Watch a movie. Read a book.

5, Take time off – An hour, a day, a week or more. Do something entirely different, at a different pace. Give yourself permission to breathe, to laugh, to do absolutely nothing.

Slow Down

Slowing down is not something I do willingly. I tend to be a bit (hubby chimes in with “majorly!) obsessive. When I’m committed to a project, I throw everything I’ve got into that project. I forget to sleep, to eat, to call friends and family. This is true not just of my writing or blogging, but of attention to my day job, household chores, whatever I want to ‘get done.’ I don’t seem to know how to pace myself. But, I’m learning.

If you push yourself too hard, something has got to give. Don’t be like me and let exhaustion make it impossible to work. Yes, there are times when an extra work load is needed. Just remember to listen: Listen to your body, your mind, your friends, and your family.

It’s nearing the end of summer and I’m hearing and reading that many people are feeling a bit overwhelmed. How about you?

Are you nearing Burn Out? Which of the steps above do you think you’ll find useful?

Have you pushed yourself too hard in the past? How did you recover?

Or have you learned to slow down?

This only lists 10 warning signs you’re doing too much and a mere 5 ways to de-stress. For more suggestions read Recognize Your Stress Levels, To Stress or To Sleep, Does the End of the Year Stress You Out? and Think You Know How to De-stress.


  1. Oh this is so me… I was feeling behind and overwhelmed so I just worked through an entire long weekend, and for some odd reason, am having a really hard time staying motivated to work now that the work days are back…

    Trying to simplify and reduce my obligations so I’m pulled in fewer directions, but it’s tricky when you’re a one-woman show! Thanks for the tips. Keep trying!

    1. Lindsey, I think it’s an occupational hazard. Writers, creative folk, are almost always ‘one-woman/man’ shows. It is tricky. Maybe you just need to give yourself permission to do something fun for an hour or so. Thanks so much for sharing.!

  2. Yay, I made it Lynette! This is so me. And the thing is, I keep trying to stay away from stressful situations, but apparently stress knows where I live. There is just too many fires that need to be put out all the time. And we’re in the midst of another one as we speak. It’s just too much. That’s why I haven’t blogged this summer. I need a break. Any writing I do is on my WIP. How are you doing Lynette? 🙂

    1. Hi, Karen! Oh, I am so sorry you’re having to deal with more stress. I hope you and your DH are doing okay. I am delighted that you’re getting in writing time. Yay for some success!

      I’m doing well. We’ve been fairly successful at ‘seizing the day.’ Thank you for asking.

    1. Oh, yes! A tear-running-down-your-face-aching-sides-gasping-for-breath laugh fest at things that you can’t explain to someone who ‘wasn’t there.’ Those kind of laugh fests are the BEST de-stressors! Great suggestion. Thanks, Pauline!

  3. I love to overcommit myself: day job, writing, blogging, writing craft classes, PTA president (there’s a story there) with all the family stuff too. I did take the entire weekend for myself–I didn’t have laundry or cooking or obligations. It was lovely to hang out with my BFF and other friends while I organized my writing projects. Tomorrow, I’ll get my lists written. 😀

    1. Goodness, Diana! Your list makes me tired. LOL. I’m glad you took time to yourself. We all need that kind of thing to recharge. Good luck with your lists.

  4. I get overwhelmed and then I take a break. But I think I do best when I don’t look around at what everyone else is accomplishing. When I start that comparison trap I get in deeper trouble. I try not to do that (try being the operative word). 🙂

    1. OH, you are so right about the trap of comparing oneself to other people’s accomplishments! That’s a dangerous, dark hole. What do you do to take a break? A road trip? 🙂

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