5 things to do at work if you feel overwhelmed by work

Anyone who feels overwhelmed by their own workload should act immediately.

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Home office, flexible working hours, team events: while some studies show that new work models can reduce stress and make employees more productive, the lack of separation between work and leisure can be stressful for others.

If your own thoughts constantly revolve around outstanding tasks or current projects without a break, a critical point could have been reached. Burnout is no longer uncommon for younger generations either. It is all the more important to recognize your own overload with work at an early stage and to act accordingly.

Below you will find five helpful pieces of advice from the “Harvard Business Review” on how to deal with such excessive demands and what you can do yourself for your mental stability.

1. Practice self-acceptance

Accepting yourself for who you are can help you cope better with overload. One way to practice this self-acceptance can be through healthy and empowering self-talk. Even if this is unfamiliar, they can actually help calm you down and make you feel like you are in control of the situation.

Overtaxing often comes from taking too much responsibility for certain things. A productive conversation with oneself can help to shed this perceived additional responsibility and to become more aware of one’s own needs. A simple trick from behavior therapy is to replace words like “should” with “prefer” or “could” in order to feel stronger.

It can also help remind yourself that pondering about the past or worrying about the future all the time prevents you from focusing and prioritizing things appropriately.

The following sentences could serve as a suggestion for healthy self-talk.

  • “Even though I have a lot to do, I can only concentrate on what I’m doing.”
  • “I would like to do more in one day, but I will accept what I can realistically do.”
  • “I like my job and like to keep myself busy. It’s only natural that I feel overwhelmed at times. But I can make adjustments if necessary. “

2. Keep an eye on your working hours

According to the Harvard Business Review, people who work longer often overestimate the amount of overtime they work. This in turn affects our brain and the way we perceive our own workload.

This is because our brains sometimes mistakenly draw logical conclusions from our emotions. If our own work is viewed with concern, we automatically assume that we are working more.

So how do you remedy this? Quite simply: by keeping a record of your working hours yourself for a certain time and keeping an eye on them. With this realistic overview, your own behavior and perception usually automatically change for the better.

In addition, work-related activities should be deleted from leisure time, regardless of how quickly they are supposed to be done. Sending an e-mail or briefly checking work messages may only take a few minutes, but in the long run the feeling can arise that you are spending a lot more time on work than you might actually be.

3. Become aware of other people’s expectations

The rules that we most vehemently expect ourselves to adhere to have mostly been imposed on ourselves. A classic among these self-imposed rules is the feeling of always having to reply to all messages immediately. In fact, this personal attitude does not mean that others have exactly this expectation of you.

Tries to stop replying to messages outside of work hours. Limiting this task to working hours can help prioritize messages better than if you were always available.

Also, become aware of other people’s expectations. Instead of guessing things, ask questions and get clarity about when certain tasks need to be done. In addition, you shouldn’t be afraid to realistically estimate the workload of a project. If you need two weeks for a task, communicate it openly.

4. Question your belief in success

Many people have similarly high expectations of themselves when it comes to their own professional success. The popular belief that you have to work harder and harder than anyone to be successful can quickly become problematic in a competitive industry and within a high-flyer team. Fulfilling your own expectations of what is supposedly necessary for success can quickly turn into a stressful race against yourself.

Often we are not even aware of these specially set expectations. Changing that can help prevent stress and procrastination.

5. Take your time off now instead of waiting for the “right” time

Take an evening or weekend off to find out that everything doesn’t collapse on you. If you want to get a more relaxed look at your work, try to be more relaxed.

Sure, that’s easier said than done. To find out what that action would be like, try to imagine what you would be doing if you weren’t so worried about your work – and then try to do it.

Changing one’s behavior is often the fastest and most effective way to influence one’s feelings.


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