Do you find yourself always in work mode? Are you constantly battling work/home life? Are you often working from sun up to sun down?
Work addiction, often called workaholism, is an actual mental health condition where a person cannot stop worrying about work; this condition will usually occur from those who view themselves as perfectionists (Tyler, 2017). People who are experiencing work addiction will often feel the need to achieve status and success to escape emotional stress. To be classified as a “workaholic,” you should have strong obsessions or need for work that has become so excessive that it creates disturbance with your personal health, happiness, interpersonal relations, and social functioning (Tang, Lim, & Koh, 2018). A workaholic would often bring work home, vacation, or anywhere that it should not be.
How do being a workaholic affect our mental health?
We obsess over and over about work; we experience a lack of sleep, our eating habits decrease, we encounter a lack of awareness (willing to work any and everywhere), we don’t set boundaries or follow anyone else’s boundaries. When you are obsessed and continuously worrying about work, you create the space to become stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed. Job burnout is an outcome directly related to being a workaholic. Job burnout is a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job and is defined by three dimensions of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment (Tang, Lim, & Koh, 2018).
Some signs of a workaholic would be: taking work home, lack of sleep, staying late at the office, continually checking emails at home, becoming obsessed with work-related success, paranoia as it pertains to your performance at work, intense fear of failing at work, detaching from personal relationships because you always have to work, using work as a way to avoid relationships, or using work to avoid issues going on in personal life (divorce, financial trouble, death, loneliness), using work to cope with feelings of guilt of depression (Tyler, 2017).
Here are 10 ways to avoid becoming or remaining a workaholic:
1. Be honest with yourself
The first step to making any change is to admit that you have a problem or there is a problem. When you recognize a problem, you can make plans and change it. Seeing is believing; look for the symptoms and see if this is you, then work out a plan to change the behavior or mindset.
2. Exercise Mindfulness
It is essential to be mindful as it pertains to your mental health. When you give yourself away from your work, you risk experiencing burnout, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and becoming overwhelmed. Check in with yourself daily on how you feel mentally by breathing exercises and ground yourself by noticing the things around you. Practicing mindfulness helps you slow down to listen to what your body is telling you.
3. Make sure you’re in the right job.
It may be easy to become a workaholic when you are not in the right job. Not every job will be a fit for you. Make sure that you are not overcompensating by overworking because you are in the wrong position.
4. Set boundaries
Boundaries are not a bad thing. They are set in place to help with protecting ourselves. Practice saying no. You do not need to always be available even after hours. Set time balance between professional and personal life. You can set boundaries by having a clear and concise schedule to follow. For example: if you work 9-5, no matter what is happening…you have to shut everything off at 5 pm unless an emergency has occurred. You also do not start work until 9 am.
Set an intention before starting your day. Make a to-do list with the most critical, important, and not so important. Start going down your list and accomplish the tasks you have set in place. Be mindful of not having more than five items on your to-do list. Prioritize your health, mental space, and personal life.
6. Delegate and outsource tasks
While you need to finish that task, please feel free to delegate it to someone else if you cannot complete it. Seek help and support in your work. You need to know that you cannot and are not capable of accomplishing everything alone. This is why it is crucial to have a support system.
7. Have an accountability partner
An accountability partner will help with checking in on you. Have you set boundaries but are unable to follow through? Your trusted accountability partner will show up for you and remind you of the set boundaries that were put in place. Having an accountability partner is like having an alarm that goes off each time you pass your work hours.
8. Identify what matters
Set time aside to identify what matters in your life, whether people, places, or things you like to do. Once you’ve identified something that brings joy and adds happiness to your life..is work interfering with those things? If yes, then change some things around to allow for you to participate in pleasurable activities.
9. Take time off
When you are a workaholic, taking time off may seem dreadful; Work-life consumes us. It is essential to take some time away from professional life to enjoy your personal life which can increase fulfillment and happiness. When you take time off, make sure to silence ALL notifications regarding work. You can take time off to enjoy a vacation with family, exercise, attend a mindfulness retreat, or simply stay home and focus on other pleasurable activities.
This last one explains it all. When you are a workaholic, rest feels like you’re losing time or unproductive. It is crucial to take the time to reset, unplug and re-adjust yourself. Rest can consist of getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night or taking your lunch break away from your office or place of work. Rest can also look like taking a quick nap during your break or at home.
Tyler, Mara (2017, December). Work Addiction. Healthline, (), . https://www.healthline.com/health/addiction/work
Cheung, F., Tang, C., Lim, M., & Koh, J. M. (2018). Workaholism on Job Burnout: A Comparison Between American and Chinese Employees. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 2546. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02546
About the Writer...
Charis Acheampong is originally from Congo, Africa. Born and raised there until relocating to the United States at the age of 13. Charis is a Clinical Intern at Wellness Tree Counseling Services and hopes to practice in both English and her native language French. Charis is a firm believer in taking care of your mental and emotional state as we do our physical. Therapy is a joint venture between the therapist and client to find solutions.
Our mission at Wellness Tree Counseling Services is to promote wellness through a culturally sensitive lens so that individuals, families and communities are encouraged to rise to their full potential and engage life in meaningful ways. To learn more about our services, please visit www.wellnesstreecounseling.com