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Work Addiction: Recognizing and Breaking Work Addiction

13 September 2022

Work addiction is not always recognized as an addiction in the workspaces. It is often confused with a go-getter attitude, but they’re not the same. There’s a fine line between being a go-getter and being a workaholic. Whereas a go-getter attitude is needed to achieve your life and career goals, workaholism can potentially damage your life and your professional growth. But before we show you how you can recognize a work addict, let’s help you understand what work addiction is.

Work Addiction

What is Work Addiction?

Let’s be honest, working does feel good. It gives you a sense of purpose and achievement especially when you’re constantly crushing and exceeding your KPIs. But the fact that work feels good does not mean too much of it isn’t bad. Particularly when overworking becomes a lifestyle.

A work addict is a person that feels a strong compulsion to work whether he wants to or not. According to the American Psychological Association, “workaholism is the compulsive need to work and to do so to an extensive degree. A workaholic has trouble refraining from work. Workaholism is often a source of significant stress, interpersonal difficulties, and health problems.”

Workaholics typically work long hours after the closing of work and yet can’t resist the urge to check emails at home.

Unfortunately, work addiction is not limited to office workers. With the new hybrid model of work, work addiction is rising among remote workers and those working from home. It’s even worse among the WFHs because although they have working hours, they often work all day. The office is just by a corner in the house so their workaholism does not seem obvious at a glance.

Signs That You’re a Work Addict

Signs That You’re a Work Addict

Depending on the level of addiction, work addiction may be easy or difficult to spot in one check. But we’ve compiled a list of the tell-tale signs of a work addiction for you.

You Have an Intense Fear of Under Delivering at Work

Workaholics are often driven by an intense fear of failure. This fear drives them to work long hours to avoid under delivering and failure. Carefully analyze your motivation for working. If the fear of failure is your greatest motivation to work, you might just be a workaholic or be on the path to becoming one.

The fear of failure is developed in childhood in many cases. It starts with the fear of failing at school and graduates to work pressure in adulthood. Oftentimes, work addicts suffer from work performance anxiety.

You’re Always Working but Hardly Productive

Constantly working long hours might seem productive but studies have shown that it is counterproductive in reality. If you’re always working but never hitting your goals, it might be a sign that you’ve crossed into the workaholic zone. If you look carefully, you might even realize that your colleagues who work fewer hours are achieving more

Your body needs rest, your brain needs rest. Overworking tires out your brain and makes it less creative and productive. So when you keep working even when exhausted, you’ll notice that you rarely reach the desired output no matter the hours you put in.

You Work Even When You Should Be Sleeping

One of the tell-tale signs of workaholics is that they barely get enough sleep. They frequently sabotage their sleep for work all in a bid to stay ahead. The body needs rest and sleep is the only time the body gets the rest it deserves. Sleeping refreshes you and revitalizes your brain so compromising on sleep is counterproductive.

You Spend Overly Long Hours at Work

Work addicts rarely work within working hours. Most don’t leave their desks until several hours past the stipulated working hours. And when they eventually leave, they’ll carry work home. If you find yourself continuously working overtime, you likely have a work addiction.

You’re Obsessed with Impressing Your Boss and Getting a Promotion

For workaholics, life is all about the next promotion, the next raise, and being ahead of the competition. While striving to be ahead is a good thing in itself, it becomes a problem if it drives you to overwork consistently. You’ll notice all you want to do is impress the bosses and clinch the next promotion. This unhealthy drive can even hamper your relationship with your colleagues.

You Use Work as an Escape from Your Problems

The human mind naturally dislikes dealing with problems head-on. We prefer to hide hoping problems will somehow disappear. Studies have over time shown that most people use work as an escape from problems. They spend long hours working as a way of keeping their minds away from problems. And this generally leads to work addiction.

If you’ve gone through a traumatic experience lately and notice you’ve been working long hours to avoid the problem, you’re likely on your way to becoming a workaholic if you’re not already one. You’ll need to seek professional help.

You Are Unable to Sleep Well

When workaholics manage to sleep, they hardly sleep well. Because they’ve spent the entire day working and thinking about work, their minds are unable to rest. Their minds are busy processing work. They most often dream of work. Work consumes their life whether they’re sleeping or awake. Whenever you catch yourself repeatedly working long hours and processing work in your sleep, it’s time to do a work addiction check.

You Can’t Remember the Last Time You Took a Break

It’s typical of workaholics to work all year round without taking a break except for emergencies. While this habit might make you the golden employee of your organization, it’s unhealthy for you. And yes, you might win the employee of the year award for a couple of years but it won’t last long. Because the more you deprive your brain of rest, the less productive it becomes.

Eventually, your professional growth might begin to decline and the award you’ve spent your whole life pursuing will go to another.

How to Overcome Work Addiction

How to Overcome Work Addiction

Now that you’ve known the symptoms of work addiction, we’re sure the question on your mind is “how do I break this addiction?” You do not have to worry too much if you check all or some of the symptoms listed above. There are simple ways to break work addiction. We’ve made a list of the most effective methods for you.

Redefine What Success Means To You

As much as career success seems like the ultimate measure of success in today’s world, it’s not a complete measure. True success is success in every area of life. Success in your health, your relationships, and your career make up the true measure of success. This is the ultimate goal of creating a work-life balance.

If you find some or all of the symptoms of workaholism in your life, you should take a step back. Take time to reflect on your lifestyle and choices and redefine what success means to you, especially in relation to your health and relationships. Clearly define what success means to you and work towards achieving success in every area of your life.

You will also need to set clear boundaries for your work to ensure it doesn’t encroach into other aspects of your life. If you find this too difficult to do on your own, seek professional help. You can also enlist friends and family to keep you accountable to your boundaries.

Take a Break

Taking a break to focus on other aspects of your life is very important in breaking your work addiction. A break gives your brain time to rest and refresh. But that’s just one of the many things a work-free break can do for you.

Taking a step back helps you see things from other perspectives. It enables you to evaluate your life with other metrics asides from career growth and define what success truly means to you.

A break doesn’t have to be a vacation in the Caribbean. Taking a week or two, or even a month (where possible) off work to just be with family and friends does wonders. It helps you foster healthy relationships and might even give you fresh ideas for work.

One thing you must do is to ensure you’re not working while on this break. Take the time to relax and you would be surprised at how refreshed and productive you’ll be when you resume work.

Also, let lunch break be a lunch break. As much as possible try not to eat lunch at your desk or work during lunchtime. That 3-minute or one-hour break is needed for good mental health and optimal productivity.

Seek Professional Help

A long-term work addiction might not be so easy to break. People that have been addicted to working for a long time see rest as a bother and are stressed when they’re not working. They generally find it difficult to objectively see the importance of work-life balance and might be unwilling to take a break even when it is offered.

If you fall into this category or you know someone who is a long-term work addict, the only solution might be to seek professional help. Professional help is particularly necessary if you’ve recently gone through a traumatic experience and you’re using work as a refuge from your problems.

You’ll also need the assistance of friends and family to keep you accountable for following through with counseling sessions and maintaining work-life boundaries.

Prioritize Your Health

Your health is the most important asset you have and overworking harms your health. Overworking can cause backaches, neck pain, cramped muscles, and many other health problems. It’s even worse when you’re not using ergonomic office furniture.

Remember, if your health fails you’ll be forced to stop working and someone else will take your space. So guard your health with all diligence. Invest in ergonomic furniture if you work from home. And if you work from the office, speak to your employer about investing in ergonomic office furniture and accessories. You can suggest an employee purchase program. FlexiSpot offers amazing discounts on employee purchases and bulk orders.

Most importantly, take out time to rest and exercise. Keep in mind that you’re more useful to your organization when healthy than sick.

Wrapping It Up

In psychological circles, work addiction is considered as life-threatening as alcoholic addiction. This is why the term “workaholic” was coined in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s not treated as severe in the work environment. However, its potential effects are damaging to your life and relationships.

Work addiction keeps you ever busy, slowly kills your productivity, and often cuts you off from meaningful relationships. Many times, it blinds you to the emotional needs of your loved ones until you lose touch with them.

Thankfully, work addiction can be broken. You’ll need to take a break from work, redefine what success means to you, prioritize your health and relationships, and seek professional help where necessary.

Investing in ergonomic office furniture is also important to ensure you don’t develop backaches, joint pains, and other health issues that can result from overworking. You can shop for ergonomic office furniture in the FlexiSpot store. FlexiSpot offers discounts on employee purchase programs and bulk orders.