In these hyper-competitive times, being ‘busy’ has become almost a status symbol, a backup plan, a state of being, lest we be seen as not committed, underperforming or unimportant.
People feel compelled to attend meetings and calls even on vacations, working late whether in office or from home is a given.
Skipping family events is brandished like a badge of honour and working on weekends is declared with pride to show their dedication.
Whether imagined, or real, this phenomenon has created pressure on individuals to always stay competitive, leading to burnout and enhanced stressful situations in other areas of life, be it health, personal, and social lives.
We have a steadily building army of work martyrs.
The pandemic-infused protocols didn’t just change the way we live, but also how we work.
The blurring of lines between personal and professional spaces, work-from-home scenario has had a significant impact on working professionals.
From the added stress of managing and juggling all fronts, to mental health issues, individuals paid dearly despite working from the assumed comfort of their respective homes.
How do you know if you are a part of the army of work martyrs?
1. You are not delegating enough
Do you feel you are the only one doing all the work in your team?
A lot of people end up doing most of the work themselves as they do not trust others to do it to their standards or in a manner that meets their criteria of excellence.
As a result, rather than seeking help, they immerse themselves in their work.
And they don’t mind telling everyone how deluged with work they are while turning down offers of support.
If you are not delegating enough, you also end up setting a bad example for your team.
2. You are constantly available, checking mails, messages whether on a weekend or on a vacation!
When you are on a vacation, do you check your e-mails and answer phone calls online?
Work martyrs don’t want their bosses or co-workers to think they Are not dependable even when they’re on vacation.
They don’t ask for help, so they don’t appear incapable.
Have you ever realised that being constantly available is not such a healthy sign?
3. Resenting others who have it easy?
When you struggle to prioritise your own needs over work, it results in exhaustion, anxiety, panic, and resentment.
Emotional, angry, and dissatisfied feelings can be draining and lead to negative emotions towards others.
As you juggle multiple deadlines, you may also become resentful towards others who, according to you, are not doing enough. This is an unhealthy sign.
4. You don’t have a work life balance
You are working all hours of the day and night.
Everyone at work is aware that you arrive early and leave late because you are not afraid to tell anyone who will listen.
However, when someone in your team or workplace leaves work early or takes the day off for important reasons such as family obligations, do you silently judge them?
A work martyr will rarely ever prioritise personal life over work and hence may not be familiar with the phrase ‘work-life balance’.
5. Feeling unappreciated and dissatisfied
Despite working so hard and carrying the burden of so much work, why do we not get rewarded to the same extent?
People who tend to be work martyrs might observe this pattern of feeling shortchanged and unappreciated.
If you relate to the above, you will also agree that you do not receive negative or developmental feedback with a positive mindset.
How to stop being a work martyr
Being a work martyr can lead to burnout, leading to becoming disconnected, quitting your job, or exhausting yourself to the point of illness.
It is neither beneficial to the individual, nor to the team or the organization.
Here are some simple and healthy tips you can follow:
1. Trust others and delegate
If your demands are too much for you to bear, delegate or push back.
Trust your team members and peers to share the load.
Collaborate. Share. Analyse the situation with your manager to identify the issues.
Only you can determine when and where that is appropriate. But more importantly, it is essential to make a shift in your own mindset to change.
When every individual is empowered, enabled, trusted, valued, and knows what to do and how to do it, the team works at its full potential.
2. Take time off and set clear boundaries for yourself
Permit yourself a break. On some days, you need to work a little harder, but on others, when there are no impending deadlines, you can relax, and you should.
Otherwise, you’ll be running out of fuel all the time.
Don’t feel obligated to run at a slow pace indefinitely.
While crossing items off your to-do list may make you feel accomplished, it is also likely to exhaust you.
3. Simple routines
Pay attention to when thoughts about work-related issues keep entering your mind.
Many people continue to revisit work related issues even after they leave their desks or office and become exhausted because of not taking a proper mental break.
Sometimes simple routines, like packing your laptop in a laptop bag (if working from home) and leaving your phone in another room, ensures that you do not check work related e-mails or messages.
If you are a pet parent, adding play time with the pet as soon as you close work can help you take your mind off from work.
Different techniques work for different people. We must find our own.
Knowing your priorities, limits and setting stronger boundaries will help you break the pattern of overworking.
You’ll be able to establish healthier relationships with your employer, co-workers, friends, family, and, most importantly, with yourself if you let go of the victim, or the superhuman position.
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