Do you call yourself a Workaholic? Are you addicted to work? Can’t find time to relax? Understand the nature of workaholism and the secret to a good work/life balance.
If working 18-20 hours a day in your life, then it isn’t that business goal or promotion that’s driving you; there could be something else. You could be suffering from workaholism.
What is Workaholism?
Workaholism is the addiction of working excessively for hard and long hours without concern for one’s mental or physical well-being. A workaholic is a person who suffers from workaholism and feels the compulsion to work for long and hard hours.
Do you remember Thomas Shelby? Cillian Murphy plays the famous character from Peaky Blinders. In the series, Thomas has Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but his way of dealing with it is submerging himself in work and more work apart from depending on drugs & alcohol. Now you might say that’s no way to live, but in reality, a lot of us unknowingly fall into this entirely different kind of addiction; instead of helping us resolve emotional issues, it pushes us into a noisy abyss where the sense of self becomes all about what others want from us instead of what we want from ourselves.
History of Workaholism
The term workaholism was coined in 1971 by minister and psychologist Wayne Oates, who described workaholism as “the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly.” A more comprehensive definition given by Clark, Michel, Zhdanova, Pui & Baltes (in press) includes components such as “feeling compelled to work because of internal pressures; having persistent thoughts about work when not working; working beyond what is reasonably expected of the worker (as established by the requirements of the job or basic economic needs) despite the potential for negative consequences (e.g., marital issues).”
This so-called quality of working so hard, and that too, for ridiculously long hours, is usually perceived as someone being immensely passionate about their job. Everyone hails it, and in most cases, people are rewarded for it without realizing its impact on their overall well-being.
To understand this better, we must delve into the possible reasons or underlying issues that may turn someone into a workaholic. The ‘hustle culture’ that has been trending over the years encourages and praises people who let their work invade all boundaries essential to maintaining a balance between their professional and personal lives. Many times people tend to throw themselves into their work and keep themselves occupied to distract themselves from their thoughts and emotions instead of healthily dealing with them.
Personality Associated with a Workaholic
Individuals who fit the criteria of type A personality and those who score high on the scales of extroversion, conscientiousness and neuroticism in the Big five or OCEAN (Openness, Consciousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism) model of personality are prone to becoming workaholics.
Signs of a Workaholic
Do you ask yourself, “Am I a workaholic?” Here are the signs of being a workaholic:
1. Working Long and Excessive Hours
2. Working Longer Than Colleagues
3. Routinely Taking Work Home
4. Routinely Checking Work-Related Emails and Texts at Home
5. Being Stressed Without Work
6. Working to Reduce Anxiety, Guilt or Depression
The mentality of a Workaholic
A workaholic may not necessarily love their job; they work because they feel like they should. On the other hand, they might love their job very much and get a sense of Achievement or a rush which leads them to have a desperate urge to keep going. They find it hard to avoid thinking about feeling stressed and guilty when they’re not working. They also put in a lot more work than their companies expect.
How Workaholism Affects Life
Eventually, a workaholic’s job satisfaction declines during stress, counterproductive behaviour and cynicism rise. Regarding their families, they may experience low family satisfaction, marital dissatisfaction, and work-life conflicts. Their physical and emotional health also takes a toll, and their overall life satisfaction declines. An increasing number of people also run the risk of experiencing burnout. They might even share the depersonalization phenomendepersonalization phenomenon, meaning
A study by the University of Bergen showed that workaholism frequently co-occurs with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, ADHD, OCD, and depression. Harvard University conducted another study, tracking numerous subjects over 75 years. This study concluded that the good relationships we form in our lives keep us healthy and happy throughout our lives. It explains how vital it is for us to have meaningful relationships with others. It also talks about how loneliness can have detrimental effects on our psychological and physical well-being and also be responsible for the decline in our brain functioning – something that a workaholic might be headed for if he/she/them refuses to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Does a Good Job Promise a Happier Life?
Renowned psychologist Martin E.P Seligman created a model consisting of 5 components to ensure a fulfilled & happy life. This model is called the PERMA model. P stands for Positive emotions, which means focusing on feeling good, creating and experiencing positive emotions; E stands for Engagement, which means being completely absorbed in the activities one is engaged in and indulging in a state of flow; R stands for Relationships, which means developing and maintaining authentic connections with others; M stands for Meaning, which means to find your purpose in life; and A stands for Achievement, which means having a sense of accomplishment and success in life.
Unfortunately, the A has been chiefly viewed as an achievement in the job or financial sector of life. People have started perceiving jobs as part of their identity, as if their work accomplishments determine their worth. They need to remind themselves that a job is just one part of your life and not your whole life. It is crucial to have a productive life outside work and not let your job determine your worth.
How to Treat Workaholism
Here is how to cure workaholism:
1. Identify the Problem
Recognising your thoughts, beliefs and motives behind your actions is essential. Addressing and identifying the problem is the first step.
2. Take Steps to Ensure a Healthy Work/Life Balance
Maintaining a balance between work and professional life helps improve your quality of life and emotional and physical well-being. It includes engaging in pleasurable activities & hobbies, developing healthy habits, spending time with loved ones, taking time out for self and establishing & maintaining boundaries. It’s essential to realize the importance and benefits of doing so and not giving into the ‘hustle culture’.
3. Seek Professional Help
A mental health professional can not only help you recognize faulty patterns of thoughts and behaviours but can also help you replace them with better ones. Helping you adopt better and healthier coping mechanisms, and understanding yourself better, would enable you to live a productive and whole life.
So next time you blur the boundaries between work and personal life, stop and think: is it your paperwork or something else that could make you streaked at work? Maybe an underlying issue that needs attention is treating the condition, which could help you prioritize your happiness.
Meditation for Workaholics
Mindfulness Meditation could help you dive deep within, silencing the sounds around you and understanding what is driving you towards workaholism. Try one of our guided stress meditations.