When you work yourself too hard, your mental health is going to take a hit. You might not even realize what’s happening to you until it’s too late. After all, you can’t slow down. You have deadlines to meet. You have dreams to reach. Any second you’re not working is a second wasted. You’re conditioned to believe you’re lazy unless you’re working until the brink of exhaustion, aren’t you? You’re convinced there’s no possible way to complete your goals unless you’re working toward them 24/7, right?
When you burn out, you might get moody. You might start snapping at anyone who creates the slightest inconvenience for you. You might even get annoyed with friends for texting you, asking to hang out, because they are interrupting your work. Don’t they realize you’re busy? Don’t they know how much you have on your plate? Do they have any idea what kind of stress you’ve been under?
You might feel bitter and resentful when you see other people posting pictures of their week-long, tropical vacations. You might even get annoyed seeing them post pictures of beers with friends after work. It doesn’t feel fair that they have the time to socialize. You barely have the time to cross everything productive off your to-do list during the day. You don’t know how you would make time for drinks on top of everything else you have going on in your life. You don’t have time to relax. You don’t have time to let loose and have fun. There’s no room on your schedule.
You keep telling yourself you’ll have more time once you reach a certain goal, once you get that dream job, once you earn a raise, but it never seems to happen. Even when you experience a small success, there’s always something else you want to accomplish. Your goals are never-ending. You never have a break. You never allow yourself to pause, to recharge, to breathe.
Even when you give yourself a second to rest, even when you decide to take a vacation day for once, it’s not really resting because you’re spending the whole time stressed about what you need to get done later. You put a timer on your free time and instead of enjoying each moment, you’re counting down the seconds. You’re still thinking about work. You’re still focused on your to-do list. Your brain never turns off. You never actually stop grinding.
Even though it’s nice there’s something you want that badly, even though your hard work is bound to pay off eventually, you can’t turn your whole life into an eternal work day. You need to rest, really rest, every once in a while. You need to turn off your email notifications, shut your laptop, and step away from the office. You need to remind yourself there’s more to life than work.
Sure, maybe reaching your career goals is the only thing you care about right now. Maybe it’s the most important thing in the world to you and nothing else can compare. But if you want to be successful, you have to take care of yourself. You can’t let yourself burn out. You can’t ignore signs your mental health is suffering.