By Sherry Atanasio, LMSW
As a mother and a New Yorker, I (like many people I know) have fallen victim to the mentality of “work harder," "do more," and “rest later.” While it is normalized in our society to have this perspective, what is the cost? What if our thirst to challenge ourselves and to succeed end up threatening our wellbeing and integrity? At what point does being ambitious and capable turn into martyrdom and sacrifice? It’s a good idea to consider the following:
Emotional cost: dread, crying spells, difficulty focusing, irritability, memory impairments, feeling overwhelmed, dreaming about work, and ruminating about work while away.
Physical cost: body tension, chronic body pain (e.g., neck, shoulders, back, etc.), stomach issues, disrupted sleep, and lowered immune system.
Work environment: productivity being valued over balance or self-care, inflexible time off, toxic or abusive management or coworkers, a culture of “there is always more to be done.”
We spend the majority of our waking lives at work, so it’s essential to acknowledge when we are giving more to our work than we are giving to ourselves. Some jobs, in fact, demand this. But it’s important to remember that while we can give our jobs everything we’ve got, it (almost always) only results in us being left with very little. We need to acknowledge when jobs are incapable of giving back to us and when it’s time for a change. Revisit priorities about staying in an environment that isn’t working for you. Everyone has limits and it’s okay to check in with ourselves, shift our priorities, and remind ourselves of our worth on a regular basis.
Sherry Atanasio, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like to work on coping with work related stress or supporting a healthy work/life balance, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.