By Jennifer Woolwine

Do You Have Too Much On Your Plate?

Health + Wellness

baghdad to barnyard

May 31, 2022

Lately, I’ve had too much on my plate, and felt like a candle burning at both ends. From when I wake up to when I go to bed, my mind is constantly on the go. The more things I cross off my to-do list, the more I add to the list.

We live in a society that puts so much pressure on being busy, and it’s easy to find ourselves constantly hustling to keep up. I don’t like to do ANYTHING half-assed or “good enough.” I’ve always strived to do my best and put 110% into everything I try. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to pour 100 percent of your energy into every task, you’re putting your mental health at risk which can also lead to physical issues.

No room for joy on your plate

When your calendar is utterly jammed-packed with appointments and responsibilities, it leaves little to no room for hobbies and spending time doing things you enjoy. The constant expenditure of your mental energy can be stressful. You’re at risk for burnout when stressed for an extended period. If any of this resonates with you, you might be taking on too much. Here are seven signs you have too much on your plate:

1- Feelings of burnout, overwhelm, round-the-clock tiredness.

Are you tired and drained all day long? Are you not feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep? Do you constantly feel stressed? If you are nodding your head yes, then you may have too much on your plate. It’s essential to listen to our minds and body because they will often indicate when we are pushing ourselves too far. It might be time to reevaluate your priorities and make changes.

2- Enjoyable activities are no longer fun.

There is nothing wrong with being busy, but when enjoyable activities feel more like a chore, it’s time to realize have too much on your plate. Don’t forget to carve time out of your busy schedule to do something you love. Journal, meditate, listen to music, watch a movie, or read a book.  Spending time in the garden and hanging out with my animals is my favorite way to decompress, especially after a stressful day.

3- Experience physical symptoms of stress.

Stress affects all of us in different ways, not only emotionally but physically as well. Exhaustion, muscle tension, headaches, and insomnia can all be physical manifestations of stress and signs you have too much on your plate. My symptoms manifest in migraines, mood swings, irritability, and heightened anxiety when I am overwhelmed or stressed. Learning the telltale signs can help you realize you’re piling too much on your plate. To combat this behavior, you must create healthy boundaries for yourself, such as saying NO more often, cutting out toxic relationships, and seeking therapy if necessary.

Physical Symptoms

•             Muscle tension

•             Insomnia

•             Headaches

•             Stomach aches

•             Exhausted

•             Anxiety

•             Depression

•             Weight gain/weight loss

It’s essential to speak with your medical provider if you have concerns about your symptoms, especially if they persist for more than two weeks.

4- Your Quality of work is declining.

Is your daily workload so overwhelming that you’ll never catch up? Is your quality of work suffering because you’re rushing through your day-to-day tasks? I’ve been there, and it is so stressful and NOT fun! I remember I would burn through my sick days as soon as I got them because I was physically ill from stress. The good news is that learning the predictable red flags can help you recognize when you are taking on more than you can handle, and simple things like scheduling breaks throughout your day can make a big difference. By scheduling a break, you give it the same importance as an appointment or meeting but without the stress and get to do something that makes you happy.

5- Forgetting Tasks.

One of the more surprising symptoms of stress and anxiety is forgetfulness. When you feel overworked, you may find it challenging to focus, and you start forgetting even the most minor things like dates and names. This happens when you have a lot on your plate daily, so your brain must process more data. As a result, you can’t focus and feel distracted. In addition, you may develop unhealthy eating habits and sleep patterns which can also affect how your memory is stored.

6- Full Calendar.

When the stress of a full calendar is starting to weigh on you because all you see are back-to-back appointments and everything is planned down to the minute, it may be time to reevaluate your schedule before you lose your shit. Do you need to take on another project at work, or can you delegate at least part of it? Do you really want to go to that function, or do you need some time to yourself? Does grocery shopping need to happen today, or can it wait until tomorrow?

7- Warnings from Family and Friends.

You may not be aware that you take on too much, but when your friends or family point out that you have a full plate, you find it difficult to listen, stay distracted or block it out. When the people close to you start telling you they’re concerned, it’s time to take stock and reflect on how much stress you’re under and what changes you can make.

Final Thoughts- Having Too Much on Your Plate

Life is tough enough. The stress of work-life, home life, and everything in between can feel like a lot to handle. Recognizing signs of being overwhelmed early on and implementing self-care strategies can help prevent burnout. Believe me, I know burnout from experience. I recently closed my online card that I had for only two years because I wasn’t enjoying the process anymore.   It was a hard decision, but I was met with immediate relief, and a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I learned so much about myself, and while I will miss the relationships I made with my clients, I knew it was the right decision. Change is not easy but sometimes it is precisely what you need at the time.

xo, Jen

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is written from personal and lived experiences. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional mental health services, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or mental health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional.

overwhelmed because you have too much on your plate

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Jen Woolwine       Author

Jen is a combat veteran and wife who is passionate about animal rescue, homesteading, and mental health advocacy. Jen's amazing journey of transitioning from military service to homesteading can be followed on her blog and social media platforms @baghdadtobarnyard.

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