A major reason why people don’t recognize work addiction as a problem is because excessive work is usually thought of as a positive attribute. Thus, in many places of work, overwork is rewarded both financially and culturally.
While you can manage your time and efforts concurrently, some others have chosen, directly or indirectly, to throw in more work time than normal mostly with detrimental effects- the workaholics. Yes, people like this exist. They always work constantly usually at the cost of their sleep, leisure time, hanging out with friends, or meeting family.
Since addiction is driven by compulsion, this principle also applies to work addiction. In most cases, people who are driven by their work addiction can either be unhappy and distressed about work or be overly concerned and can have uncontrollable desires to work. They may become so invested in their work and spend so much time, energy, and effort on it, that it harms personal lives, non-work relationships, and activities outside of work.
There is a thin line between working assiduously and being addicted. There might be a bit of grey area in trying to decipher whether you have a work addiction or not.
To easily define this, there are several symptoms that show if you already are or becoming a workaholic.
Symptoms of Signs Of Work Addiction
- Repeatedly spend more time working than you mean to.
- Are increasingly always busy with little or no increase in output efficiency.
- Compulsively think about how you can free up more time for work.
- Unnecessarily use work to maintain and determine your self-worth.
- Use your work to mask or reduce feelings of guilt, unhappiness, anxiety, or depression.
- Disregard advice or suggestions from friends or family to cut down on work.
- Have personal relationships and/or health problems resulting from overwork or being preoccupied with work.
- Readily use work as a way of coping with, escaping, or numbing feelings.
- Become stressed if prevented from working or unable to work.
- Relapsing to overwork when you try and cut down or stop.
The above symptoms come from numerous studies and research on the work habits of people. If you can relate to an average of four of these signs, you might have a work addiction. By thinking about it, you are already on the right path to overcoming your addiction.
Here are seven easy ways to break that overwhelming circle of work addiction.
Overcoming your Work Addiction
Exercising creates a “feel good” kind of feeling. Schedule your exercises at regular intervals to help you cope with the burden that comes with a work addiction like anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness.
Also, trying sport exercises with your friends. This will help you rebuild the social circle that might have been strained because of your workaholism. Learning breathing, relaxation, therapeutic exercises can also help.
Take Disciplined Breaks
Go on that trip. Visit that waterfall. Take that long vacation away from work, you’ve earned it. Sometimes even small breaks like stepping away from your workstation for lunch or running your errands can make huge differences. Occasional breaks from your work help you ease off on the strict style.
Make Changes To Your Lifestyle
How you go about doing the work you do is a whole lifestyle on its own. Shifting to a healthy pattern will help you reduce work-related stress. And, it will set you on the way to becoming less dependent on your work.
Being deliberate about lifestyle changes like how much time you dedicate to having lunch, taking evening walks, exercises and even a bit of yoga can be very helpful in curbing your work addiction. Learn to break little habits that ultimately feed into the wider addiction.
Avoid Stress Triggers
If you find yourself continuously using work to manage stressful situations, it is a sign that you are becoming addicted. Learn to discuss any worries you may have with family and friends and check that you are not adding to the stress agents.
Thoroughly observe the situation and ask yourself important questions. Am I placing too much importance on this stress agent? Be straightforward with yourself and take action by changing your response to the stress.
Find And Work At Your Optimal
Take on only as much work as you can handle ideally and nothing more. Learn to politely turn down extra work, especially if you already have something huge going on.
Do not think of pushing your optimum to accommodate workloads as a proof of strength or an edge over your colleagues. If persistently heavy workloads are an issue, raise it with your manager and discuss how best it should be managed.
Mindfulness is a very effective treatment for overcoming addictions, work addictions inclusive. Being mindful of the moment, your thoughts and feelings can help you clearly see the outcomes of your activities and evaluate whether the actions are helping or harming you.
Learn self-love, forgive yourself, be intentional about breaking your addiction. If you think it necessary, seek external help.
Stop Being A People-pleaser
If you struggle with any kind of addiction, you likely deal with mostly negative and invasive thoughts. What will others think? Am I doing enough to earn their respect? Am I disappointing others? These kinds of thoughts and questions make you constantly doubt yourself and drive you to make unhealthy decisions.
If you think pleasing everyone, (especially at work) will make you look efficient, remember that you might end up making fewer people happy when you eventually burn out.
Start by reevaluating your capacity to give and serve. When you are honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t do, you’ll produce better work and keep your sanity and integrity.
Seek Professional Help
This might come in as the last resort, but if you are unable to self-deviate from always thinking about work and if you sense you are diving into work to escape other responsibilities or uncomfortable feelings, seek treatment from a professional.
A counsellor or psychologist can help you understand why you feel the need to work so hard. Afterward, they will set you on the best treatment plan.
It is no surprise that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global shift in economies, many of us are working harder than ever before, albeit remotely, and up to the point of sometimes feeling overworked.
Some entrepreneurs might have had to develop a form of work addiction to survive the fast-rising drop in the economy. Yet for others, the urge to always work some more goes further than simply needing to pay the bills; some are simply work addicts.
While it is important to be good at what we do and be hard workers, breaking or preventing a work addiction is to learn how to say no politely. Focus on yourself and your wellbeing, express your feelings, do something nice for yourself, and create boundaries for yourself.
If you think you may be addicted to work, take a break and see how you feel. In all, be reminded to be deliberate about consciously reducing how much time you put in your work and find a healthy work-life balance.
Photo Credit: Canva