Overworked - what do you feel when you are overworked and what do you do about it?
by Simon Dewaele on Jan 30, 2023
Stress and overwork can affect anyone, regardless of age or occupation. The result is often a feeling of exhaustion, anxiety and lack of concentration. In this blog, we explore the meaning of being overworked, how to recognise if you are overworked, and what you can do to combat it. From adjusting your daily habits to using tools, we have the information and tips you need to get back into balance.
What does being overworked mean?
Overstrain is often considered a modern epidemic. In the Netherlands in 2021, an estimated 130,400 new patients were diagnosed with neurasthenia/surmenage (overexertion) by GPs: 44,500 men and 86,000 women. This corresponds to 5.1 new patients per 1,000 men and 9.8 per 1,000 women. Neurasthenia or nerve weakness is a mental disorder that falls into the category of neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders. We all face periods when we experience more stress than usual. When such a period lasts too long, your body does not recover from the amount of stress and you are constantly 'on' and in survival mode. As a result, you become overloaded and exhausted, leaving no room for reflection, connecting, processing, dwelling and enjoying. This can have a negative impact on your everyday life and relationships. It is important to understand what overworkedness is, and how to recognise it, in order to deal with it in a targeted way and prevent it from turning into more far-reaching problems such as somatic symptom disorder or depression.
According to a study published in the journal "Neuropsychopharmacology" conducted by scientists at the University of California, chronic stress can lead to changes in the brain that cause overexertion. The study showed that the amygdala - the part of the brain responsible for anxiety and stress - became larger in subjects suffering from chronic stress. This suggests that overstrain is not just a mental challenge, but also a physical condition linked to changes in brain structure and results in less confidence in personal ability.
How do you know if you are overworked?
Overstrain is a state of increased stress and fatigue accompanied by specific symptoms. It is important to recognise these symptoms to intervene early and prevent or treat overstrain. Mild symptoms of overstrain include rapid fatigue, poor concentration, poor sleep and moodiness. With moderate overstrain, physical symptoms may also occur, such as headaches, back or neck pain and palpitations. In severe burnout, even burnout can occur with symptoms such as exhaustion, emotional exhaustion, loss of meaning and purpose in life and a negative attitude towards work or other tasks. It is important to take these symptoms seriously and take timely action.
I am overworked, now what?
If you are overworked, it is important to first identify the cause of your overworkedness. Often the cause is work and being overworked, but stress can also play a role during pregnancy. It is important to know that there can be many different causes of overwork and some of them can be surprising. Other causes include sleep, stress, relationships, finances, personal health, diet, and more. A good way to start tackling overstrain is to identify the cause and then take targeted action to lower, reduce or prevent overstrain. This will allow you to take more targeted action to create a stress-free work environment and cope better with the challenges of everyday life.
What can you do to combat overstrain?
When you are overworked, it is important to take action to prevent further deterioration and possible burnout. There are several ways to combat overstrain, including: regular exercise, healthy diet, adequate sleep, mindfulness and relaxation exercises, reducing stressors (such as work pressure or private problems), learning effective coping strategies, and dealing with emotions and stress through counselling or psychotherapy. It is important to experiment and determine what works best for you, and to stay with this regularly to keep your overstrain under control.
We list for you some accessible and practical tips that you can get started with right away:
- Breathing exercises: Try doing deep and calm breathing exercises regularly to help you relax and release tension.
- Exercise: Try to exercise regularly, this can range from walking, yoga, to sports. Exercise can help release tension and stress.
- Sleep: Try to get enough and regular sleep. A good night's sleep is important for physical and mental health.
- Nutrition: Eat healthy and varied food. Avoid junk food and caffeine.
- Social support: Try to find support from family, friends or professionals. Talking about your problems can help solve them or put them into perspective.
- Time-management: Try to manage your time as efficiently as possible. Consciously schedule time for rest and relaxation.
- Dealing with stress: Try to avoid stressful situations or deal with stress in a healthy way. Learn to say "no" and set boundaries.
Remedies against stress or being overworked.
There are several ways to work against stress or overwork, and nutritional supplements can be an effective addition to the remedies listed above. Some dietary supplements contain specific ingredients that can help reduce stress-related symptoms. Here are a few ingredients often offered in dietary supplements, which are known for their ability to help with overexertion:
- L-Theanine: this amino acid, found in green tea, is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and improve the body's stamina.
- Ashwagandha: this herb from India is known for its ability to reduce stress and strengthen the immune system.
- GABA: this substance is a neurotransmitter in the brain and helps reduce tension and anxiety.
- Lemon balm: this herb is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and promote sleep.
- Vitamin B6: this vitamin plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters that help regulate mood and emotions.
It is important to take prompt action and look for effective solutions to reduce the effects of overexertion. As a final option, nutritional supplements, such as sugar-free vitamin gummies from GIMMY, offer effective support in dealing with overwork and stress. By taking specific ingredients like L-Theanine, Ashwagandha, GABA, Lemon balm and vitamin B6, you can help the body restore balance and reduce stress symptoms. Try it now and feel the difference!