How would you define workaholic? Many people associate the term workaholic with enthusiastic and productive workers who excel in their careers and live lavish lives as a result. The reality is quite different.
Workaholism is considered an addiction. It may begin as a way to escape from problems with relationships, health, finances, etc. Unlike other addictions, society doesn't stigmatize it, so it may not seem alarming when people lose their sense of a healthy work-life balance and become addicted to work. Workaholism gives them a feeling of being important, respected, and recognized.
Workaholism is actually encouraged in the tech industry, where influencers and startup founders popularize and romanticize being obsessed with work.
This guide will discuss workaholism from the inside out. We'll review the root causes, its potential consequences, and make suggestions to help you avoid the trap of emotional burnout.
The key factors that can lead to work addiction are:
Workaholism is a legal and socially acceptable option to escape from a stressful or unpleasant reality. The problem is that unaddressed and unresolved issues can snowball, making people work ever harder to escape them.
Anxious people may be prone to workaholism because they doubt their competencies and professionalism. Achievements at work can help workaholics gain recognition among colleagues and raise their self-esteem.
Loneliness, absence of social connections, or a subconscious desire to earn love can result in an obsession with work. When parents, family, and friends don’t meet the workaholic’s emotional needs, they may resort to gaining recognition and approval from bosses, management, and colleagues.
Modern society encourages being addicted to work. In western culture, the model of a happy and successful person is focused on the accumulation of wealth and material possessions as the basis for success and social recognition.
Dive deeper into the workaholism meaning and its causes in our “Why Do People Become Workaholics” post.
The danger of work addiction is that it can occur unnoticed not only by the workaholics themselves but by people around them. With addictions like substance abuse, relatives and colleagues likely notice change in behavior and physical appearance. Workaholism addictions, on the other hand, are not so easily spotted, and changes may only be obvious over the longer term.
There are, however, several signs and symptoms you can look for, either doing a self-check or checking for another:
Doing a quick check-in with yourself can help you identify whether you’ve crossed the line.
You might expect that an obsessive devotion to work would lead to success and happiness. More frequently, however, workaholism means a negative impact on physical and psychological health, and on relationships with colleagues and loved ones.
Among the physical symptoms a workaholic may develop are:
Also, a constant excessive workload, and sacrificing sleep, exercise, and healthy eating, can result in deterioration of the musculoskeletal system and cardiovascular systems. A weakened immune system and a disinclination to take the time to visit a doctor can further erode physical health.
Emotional and psychological consequences include:
Sadly, workaholics’ efforts are generally counterproductive - they do not correspond to improved job performance or productivity. To the contrary, the negative side effects of workaholism can cause them to make mistakes, redo their work, or procrastinate, jeopardizing important projects. Because the stress continues to grow, workaholics feel less satisfaction from work, and from life in general.
Work addiction has a highly negative impact on the personal and social lives of the people who suffer from it. At work, the personal characteristics of workaholics can make them very challenging to communicate with. They tend to disagree with their colleagues, prefer not to delegate responsibilities, and try to control everything.
In their non-work lives, family and friends find it hard to maintain relationships with workaholics due to the lack of attention, commitment, and common bases for conversations. Some psychologists suggest that workaholics reach a plateau in their personal development, interfering with their ability to form and nurture relationships of all sorts.
The sooner you spot the first signals of workaholism, the better. Check our quick start guide into workaholism to make sure you’re NOT following our phony advice, and consider some of the tips below to avoid emotional burnout and work obsession:
Whether a self-test or a mental health professional diagnoses workaholism, don’t be disheartened, you can make your way back to normal life. Psychologists have identified several powerful techniques that can help you turn your life around.
Of course, the first thing you should do is to learn to say "no" when a colleague or boss violates your reasonable personal boundaries. However, if it was just that simple, however, workaholism would scarcely be a problem.
The good news is that we’ve collected some actionable tips and recommendations on how to stop thinking only about work and be where you are to provide you with a broader picture of the ways to recover from a work addiction.
Workaholism means an addiction that manifests over time. Certain "red flags" can help you spot this issue: obsessive thoughts of work, disengagement from your relatives and friends, negative mood, and a host of physical and mental health issues. Once you spot some of these symptoms, you should immediately seek appropriate professional help and decrease your workload.
Remember that workaholism won't help you excel at your career. In the short term, you may achieve certain targets and may even be proud of yourself. In the long run, workaholism’s negative effects will predominate, leading to low productivity, chronic stress, and emotional burnout. Make sure you take the time to take care of yourself.
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