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Is too much work turning you into a Grumblebum?

I’ve been happily married to my husband for a very long time.

He is one of the kindest, most generous, level-headed, happy, considerate, tenacious, meticulous and creative people I know. We love each other very much.

Except recently he’d been under a lot of pressure. He’d taken on too many projects requiring his attention in a short time frame, and a number of things hadn’t worked out as expected. He’d been let down by various operators, his level of frustration was rising rapidly and it took a toll.

He turned into a Grumblebum.

At first, I thought a stranger had turned up at our house.
Where was my husband, I wondered?
Who was this grumpy (and somewhat irritable) person stomping through the house, muttering under his breath, crashing through drawers looking for items, extolling negative views on anything and everything?

It was so out of character, I no longer recognised him.

Fortunately, Mr Grumblebum didn’t hang around too long and my husband miraculously reappeared, which was a huge relief to everyone.

How does overwork or overwhelm affect you?
Have you ever found yourself reacting strongly to issues and challenges that wouldn’t normally faze you?
Have you ever “lost it” when highly stressed and someone did or said something that irritated you beyond your limit of endurance?

Let’s face it, we’re human and as such we all have physiological and psychological limits. Push yourself too hard for too long and those limits get exceeded.
The result?
Rapidly rising levels of stress which unless adequately dealt with can morph into something more sinister.

Don’t get me wrong, stress in itself is good. It helps us to step up to meet a challenge, to find a solution, to make a decision, to want to learn and improve ourselves.

It’s when stress continues too high for too long it triggers an emotional response which is often fear based.
We’re afraid of missing a deadline.
Of failing.
Of not reaching our goal.
Of being judged by others.
Of not meeting our self-imposed expectations or those of others.

More negative emotions influence how you think.
It’s harder to see the good.
You see things in a more negative light.
Everything feels like it’s getting harder.
We start to expect things to go wrong even before we’ve started.

Those negative thoughts influence your behaviour.
You’re more snappy, reactive, short-tempered, irritable and definitely not so much fun to be around.

If you know this has happened to you, perhaps a bit too often.
If Grumblebum has ended up living at your place, or you’ve morphed into Grumblebum yourself it’s time to look at why.

Self-awareness is the first step towards identifying your limits.

It helps you to erect those boundaries essential to your health and wellbeing.
It enables you to reinstall those coping mechanisms that enable you stay at the top of your game.

Overwork, overwhelm, or overcommitment stretches us too thin.

Studies have shown the ideal number of hours to work each week sits between 35 and 40.
How many hours do you think you work – honestly?
Many people I know work their contracted hours but then are also working in the evening, over the weekends and are still thinking about work during family time or social events.

We only have a finite amount of time on this planet. 
Given the choice would you prefer to work a shorter number of hours, receive less pay but have more time to enjoy other aspects or your life, or continue to work too hard because it’s expected of you, because you’re in a rapid growth phase of your business or because you would feel too guilty if you weren’t seen to be at your desk working flat out, all the time?

What has living in the time of the global pandemic taught you about how you choose to live and work?
Has too much stress or struggle been getting you down – and if so, what measures have you taken to rectify the situation?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Dr Jenny Brockis is a medical practitioner and board-certified lifestyle medicine physician, keynote speaker and best-selling author. Her new book Thriving Mind: How to Cultivate a Good Life (Wiley) is now available for purchase.

If psychological safety, resilience and mental wellbeing is something you’d like to find out more about, please contact me to set up a time for a chat.

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