Sure, we all have borderline unhealthy addictions – binging Netflix shows, feasting on sugary treats in lieu of a proper meal, seeking out and petting every dog in your apartment complex. However, when it comes to our work lives, there’s a difference between demonstrating a strong commitment and passion for your job and losing sight of the line that separates your personal life from your professional one. Skipping lunches, being the last employee to clock out each night, and never having an ‘off’ switch when it comes to checking your work email are strong signs that you may be grappling with an addiction to your daily grind.
Unlike your Game of Thrones addiction, being a workaholic can be extremely detrimental to your physical and mental health. Growth in technology and the widespread use of tablets and smartphones can make it difficult for many to unplug after work hours and on the weekends. So, what are the symptoms of workaholism? Read on for a list of some of the warning signs.
Persistently Feeling Unsatisfied with Your Work
This is like perfectionism on steroids. Workaholics are always focused on amplifying their results, which under normal circumstances is a positive characteristic. However, in this instance, it means perpetual disappointment, believing your work is never up to par, and enduring an unhealthy amount of stress from the lack of satisfaction.
Working insanely long hours in pursuit of flawlessness and being overly critical of yourself can cause depression, weaken your immune system, and even lead to a number of serious health complications like heart disease, diabetes, and an increased risk of cancer. Those who strive for perfection feel a lack of control, fail to recognize their accomplishments, and wind up alienating themselves from friends and coworkers. Aiming for better is encouraged, but in moderation; it shouldn’t be disrupting all facets of your life.
Your Physical Health is Waning
Continually battling a case of the sniffles or feeling under the weather? When your life revolves around conference calls, sales quotas, and paperwork, your physical health will likely get neglected in the process. Psychotherapist and author of Chained to the Desk, Bryan Robinson, told U.S. News that workaholics have an increased risk of contracting a medley of psychological and physical ailments. In addition to heightening your exposure to depression, anxiety, and type 2 diabetes, workaholics are highly vulnerable to burnout. They also tend to derail their opportunity for upward career mobility. Trying to work when you’re persistently sick can lead to decreased productivity and a bunch of sloppy mistakes. Eating healthy and exercising, versus skipping meals and the gym to work late, is an important part of taking care of your body.
Hobbies & the Word ‘Fun’ Are a Thing of the Past
When work becomes all-consuming and your sole reason for waking up is to get to the office each day, there is definitely a cause for concern. Restructuring your priorities in a manner that’s conducive to a healthy work/life balance will directly impact your overall happiness in the workplace. Find hobbies or activities outside of your 9 to 5, like joining a local sports team, volunteering at an animal shelter, or making it a goal to eat your way through all the Italian restaurants in your area.
You Base Your Self-Worth on Your Performance at Work
There’s no denying the electric appeal of securing a win at work. However, if you’re regularly experiencing soul-crushing unhappiness because you didn’t secure a new deal or completely satisfy every customer, then you’ll eventually be devoured by feelings of inadequacy and failure. Workaholics depend on validation from clients, coworkers, or their manager to boost their feelings of self-worth. This is why it’s essential to find activities outside of the workplace that evoke happiness and instill you with a sense of pride. Whether it’s a fitness-related goal (and no, running in place at your desk as a way to incorporate exercise into the workday doesn’t count) or joining a new club, you can find success in many areas of your life outside performance reviews or sales quotas.
You Never Turn Down More Work
When you start sounding like a robot that’s only programmed to tell your boss ‘yes’ and all other invitations - hanging with friends or attending engagements outside of the workplace – only hear ‘no,’ this is usually a red flag. Consistently ditching out on quality time with friends or family because you’re preoccupied with work is a sign of workaholism. While agreeing to tackle an extra work project from time to time is encouraged, you need to be mindful of your boundaries. Overextending yourself in an effort to please the powers that be can trap you in a whirlwind of perpetual stress. Try blocking off time in your schedule every week that’s solely reserved for social endeavors or personal hobbies.
You Refuse to Admit You Fit the Bill
Garret E. Barton: "Do you find yourself constantly drawn toward stores?"
Rebecca Bloomwood: "Nope."
Garret E. Barton: "Does your heart quicken when you see new merchandise in neatly stacked piles?"
Rebecca Bloomwood: "No."
Garret E. Barton: "Did you answer "no" to these questions and are consequently in denial?"
Rebecca Bloomwood: "NO."
Garret E. Barton: "Did you just say "no" again?"
The biggest hurdle for those facing addiction is acknowledging that an issue even exists. Many employees will joke about being married to their job; however, these individuals seldom exhibit signs of workaholism. Denial is a key factor here. Workaholics often have escapist mentalities, funneling all of their focus and efforts into the workplace rather than facing the larger issue at hand. As Bryan Robinson explains in his book, nearly a quarter of Americans are workaholics. That is an undeniably frightening number. Recognize these symptoms in yourself or a coworker? The best thing you can do to realign your body and mind on a healthy path is to seek help.