Overstretching yourself, or stretching yourself too thin, is one of the worst things you could possibly do. Whether you’re working three jobs, studying 15 to 20 hours of the day with little sleep, or performing each dutiful task you are asked tactfully. Whatever the case may be, you need to stop and take a break! You are not doing yourself, or the people who you surround yourself with, any favors. You need to take care of yourself so that you can achieve your dreams, work the next shift, take care of your child(ren), watch your sibling(s) grow up, take care of your aging parents, and so much more. Not only do you depend on yourself to get you through the day, but others depend on you too. Also, you have people who care about you and love you. Do you really think they want to see your tire your body, physically, and drain it from overstretching yourself? No one does!
Unfortunately, this is one of the many nasty habits of mine. It comes with being a people pleaser, as I am. To put it into perspective, I am currently working full time and a part-time job while somehow finding time to still write for Society 19. That is 60+ hours a week! So, yeah, I overstretch myself. I know this, and so do my family and friends. It is a habit I am working on lessening until it is completely gone. Now, if you do not know how to tell if you are overstretching yourself or working yourself against the thin line of time, then let me help you by pointing out the signs of overstretching yourself.
1. Lack Of Sleep
The first sign that you are overstretching yourself and overdoing it is lack of sleep. Running on little to no sleep is beyond detrimental not only to your physical health, but also to your mental health. Getting a good night’s rest, or the sleep your body needs in general, should be a priority. Working 40+ hours alone and working opening and closing shifts more frequently, I am lucky to get six hours of sleep. Even then, I need a minimum of two cups of coffee to function throughout the day. Do yourself a favor, let your body and mind rest!
As an expert in the field—it’s not a good thing, I know—headaches generally occur within a couple days of practicing a routine of overstretching yourself. Again, that can translate into too many scenarios and variations. Whether it is from drinking too much coffee trying to stay awake, not getting enough sleep, not having much of an appetite, or the stress, a headache is likely to result if your body is overstretching itself.
3. Unhealthy Eating Habits
When you are stressed and constantly moving—mentally, physically, or both—you can fall into the habit of forgetting you are hungry or the fact that your body needs fuel to keep running. Not eating properly is another habit you could fall into when overstretching yourself. Whether you’re not eating enough, not eating healthy foods, or not getting the nutrients your body needs, not eating properly could be very detrimental to your health. When you’re busy, it’s easy to skip a meal or just snack on whatever foods are quick and easy, which often includes junk food. Pizza, chips, cookies, Top Ramen, pizza rolls, mozzarella sticks, cake, or any other unhealthy food you can think of has more fat, salt, sugar, and man-made ingredients than your standardized apple or grapes. Needless to say, you will either lose or gain a substantial amount of weight. So, make your diet a priority!
As I mentioned before in the previous sign, stress is one of the first signs of overstretching yourself. It could be mental or physical. For me, it tends to work both ways. I stress myself out with deadlines and trying to complete my tasks to the best of my ability. Physically, I tend to push my body to its limits. Whether I’m running on nothing but four hours of sleep or less, ensuring that the bills are paid (or making sure I have the money to pay them), pushing a row of 20 carts up and down the street and sidewalk, carrying 50+ pounds of the products around the store, or running to the back of the store to grab something for a customer and then running back before they have a chance to leave, I tend to stress myself out. Not to mention, I often get stressed with the general mental and physical stress that comes with being a college student. As Malti Gautam once said, “Stress stress everywhere…Not a single minute…to rest…” Please, please, please, lessen the stress in your life!
One of the most obvious signs of overstretching yourself—I think—is a breakdown. It makes sense why you would have them—you are overwhelmed and spilling over the rim with stress, exhaustion, and hunger. Breakdowns are simply results of overwhelming amounts of physical and mental stress. Not to mention, all of those have an influence on your state of mind too. Negative thoughts begin to crowd and dance in the walls of your mind. Trust me. Tears will be spilled eventually. That is, of course, if you do not already see the state and routine of behavior you are falling into. Try your best not to overwork yourself, and you’ll be one step closer to avoiding breakdowns.
6. Weak Immune System (Getting Sick)
Overstretching yourself can oftentimes lead to sickness. With a combination of the signs listed above, your body will eventually fail you because you have failed it. It cannot protect itself, let alone run on an empty stomach, no sleep, and a constantly stressed mind. Instead, it must be nurtured and well-rested. As I stated before, you have to first take care of yourself before taking care of anyone or anything else. A famous phrase states, “You cannot save someone who is drowning if you are drowning yourself.” Keeping your body healthy is of the utmost importance, and should come before anything else, including jobs and school.