If you’ve ever been called a workaholic, you may have wondered how much truth there might be to the label. Perhaps you’re in denial, but at some point you need to face the truth.
Being a workaholic might look good on your resume, but it can ruin relationships and make it hard to find true satisfaction in life. And the dangers in being a workaholic are not few.
It can lead to substance addiction, either because that helps you keep producing or as a way to cope with the relationship setbacks that result from your work addiction. It can also cause considerable mental and physical health consequences.
“The potential health ramifications can include increased stress and incidence of stress-related physical consequences such as gastrointestinal disturbances, ulcers, cardiovascular disease, and sleep disorders,” says Tina B. Tessina, PhD. “It can also lead to the loss of rich interpersonal relationships, anxiety disorders, and even depression and suicide.”
If you’re accused of being a workaholic, you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle. If you show any of the following symptoms, it might be time for a transformation.
1. You plan time to work rather than planning out your free time
This is not normal behavior, because most people spend a good portion of their free time mapping out their leisure activities with friends and family. It’s okay to think about your job, but if you’d rather focus on work than pursue activities you used to love, you’re working too much.
2. You use work to cope with your emotions rather than more conventional coping methods
Work can serve as a useful escape from something you’re mourning, such as a death in the family, trouble at home, a breakup, depression, anxiety, and other emotional or mental distress. You might tell yourself, “If I’m busy, I won’t think about these negative things, right?” But you’ll crack eventually, and you could suffer severe emotional distress from avoiding your deeper issues.
3. You frequently work through your lunch break
We’ve all done this when we’re behind on a project, but if working over lunch is the norm, it might mean you have an addiction to work. Lunch breaks are not only essential for maintaining proper nutrition and energy levels, but they’re also a good respite from the stresses of labor.
After taking your lunch break, you can return to work rejuvenated and more productive. Working through lunch regularly can have the opposite effect.
4. You feel anxious when you’re not working
Weekends, time spent with family, holidays, alone time, and participation in leisure activities should all provide rest and relaxation. They’re an essential part of recharging your batteries so you can return to work and achieve a higher level of productivity. But if you’re feeling anxious during these activities because you’re not working, there’s a problem.
5. Your relationships are suffering because you spend too much time working
It’s extremely difficult to manage personal relationships when you’re constantly taking extra shifts, skipping your vacation days, and thinking about work at home. Your family will suffer from the lack of attention, and you’ll likely suffer disharmony with the people in your personal life because of your hyper focus on work matters.
6. You fear you won’t amount to anything if you don’t spend as much time working as possible
Fear of poverty, demotion, or being passed over for a promotion can contribute to a drive to work more. Many people believe that working harder and longer is the key to achieving their career goals.
However, the opposite is often the result. They overwork themselves and end up generating less productivity, and a higher risk for burnout may put their job stability at greater risk.
7. You don’t take your vacation days
This is an incredibly common problem. More than 50 percent of the working population doesn’t use all their vacation days.
As mentioned earlier, you might skip your vacation days because it makes you anxious not to work. If you take a vacation, you probably take work with you.
Many people won’t take their sick days either, even if they’re very ill. This is a big red flag that you could be suffering from work addiction.
8. You can’t keep your personal commitments because work gets in the way
How many times have you told your spouse you’d be home two hours earlier than you end up being? How many baseball games or nights out with friends have you missed because of work?
We all understand a demanding schedule, but when work begins to overrule all your personal commitments, you’re putting too much time into work and not enough into the rest of your life.
Your personal health and well-being will suffer if you continue to operate as a workaholic. It’s vital to get help, whether through a self-help group or by checking into a residential treatment center.
The action you take now could make all the difference to your future health and happiness.