5 Signs You Have Become a Work Martyr (and Need to Slow Down)

Being a busy worker is a badge of honor in our society, to the point where we even take pride sometimes in being called workaholics.

Even if you love your job, you might find yourself in situations where work is becoming way too much. It’s smart to know when to pull back a little and return to work with double the energy. Working hard is justifiable if you want to do a good job, but being a workaholic and working yourself to death simply doesn’t make sense.

And yet, many of us seem to seem to quietly accept that we are constantly overworked and tired. Is it the same with you? Are you the one who always volunteers for more work? Do you often work late and during the weekends? You might be a work martyr.  

Here are five signs that you might be a work martyr, together with tips to help you break free of your workaholism and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

5 signs you are a workaholic and work martyr (and need to slow down)

5 Signs You Have Become a Work Martyr (and Need to Slow Down)

Most people chase success at work, thinking that will make them happy. The truth is that happiness at work will make you successful.

– Alexander Kjerulf

Your vacation days are left almost untouched

If you take very little or virtually no vacation time, you might be a work martyr.

Everyone needs to power down once in a while. If you give up more of your life to work so you can prove your worth or reduce the chances of getting fired, you’re making a big mistake that can cost you a lot.

Just use your vacation days. Your body and mind will appreciate it in the long run and you will be even more productive once you have returned.

You strive to be constantly available

Do you feel the need to show your supervisor and colleagues that you’re always available? If 24/7 availability is your metric for professional achievement, you’re headed down the road to work martyrdom as well.

Instead of helping your career, you’re hurting it by setting expectations of your availability at an unreasonably high level. You will never get to the point where you prove your worth and will be able to let go – you’ll have to keep your availability at the same level. 

That’s why you should take a second look at your schedule and prioritize tasks that are most important to everyone at the company. Work on top-line items, and feel free to leave other tasks off the to-do list until you have more time.

You experience constant fatigue

Do you wake up tired every day? You might be a work martyr whose work never really ends.

That’s what happens to your body if you don’t give it an occasional break. Stop pushing yourself so hard. You’ll only make more mistakes and become less productive than you’d like.

Get at least seven hours of sleep each night and monitor your well-being. The time you dedicate to rest is critical to the quality of your work.

work martyr - workaholic sleeping at work

You don’t trust your co-workers to do a good job


One reason why your job is so time-consuming might be because you’re doing the work of more than one person.

Are you taking over the responsibilities of other employees because deep down you don’t trust them to deliver the results you want? If so, you’re the one creating the problem.

Work martyrs believe that they’re the only person at the company who can do a good job, or at least that they can do it much better than their colleagues.

You might even have a point, but this belief is making you suffer. Most importantly, it’s counterproductive. It encourages your colleagues to keep slacking off while you’re toiling away. And you can bet that your co-workers find you irritating – including the ones whose work you’re doing for them.

Instead of working the jobs of other people, learn to ask for help or notify your boss if your workload has gotten out of hand. You need to manage your time well and devote it to the most important tasks. Dividing and delegating responsibility is key in all areas of your life.

You’re in poor health

Working too hard will affect your health and well-being. There’s no doubt about that.

Overworking leads to stress, and long-term exposure to stress damages our health. Getting enough rest and sleep is more important than you think. If you don’t get enough downtime, you’re putting yourself at risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and compromised immunity.

It’s not worth risking your health for work performance.

Monitor how you spend your time and make sure to take your weekends off. Do sports, go for walks in natural settings, book a spa appointment, and spend time with your friends and family.

If you’re sick, get some rest and don’t go to work. Nobody will think of you as a slacker. You’re not a machine, so do yourself a favor and take proper care of your health.

So: You’re working sixty hours a week, haven’t been on vacation since 2010, but you’ve managed to cross off all the items on your to-do list. Are you happy now?

Probably not. And that’s the problem with work martyrs – no martyr is ever satisfied.

Use these five tips to break free from your self-imposed martyrdom and start enjoying a healthy work-life balance right now.


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