Today we emphasise growth and productivity as a culture, which makes paid work not only necessary but also a major worry for most individuals. Research indicates that workaholism, often known as work addiction, is a rising problem in the industrialised world, yet this attitude towards work is hurting us more than it is benefiting us. Additionally, study findings indicate a connection between work addiction and poorer mental health.
What is work addiction?
A clinical disorder known as “work addiction” is characterised by an obsession with and compulsive need for our job. Usually, people work more than they should because of their financial situation or the high demands of their jobs. This may also include inflexible thinking, worrying about one’s performance at work, and perfectionism.
People who are work addicted feel driven to work excessively despite the negative effects this has on their relationships, personal health, and well-being. People who are vulnerable to developing a work addiction typically have low self-esteem, worry about how well they do at work, or exhibit obsessive-compulsive personality traits.
How work addiction is harmful to our mental health
Many studies have shown the detrimental effects of work addiction on mental health. However, a recent study on French employees looked at the causes of job addiction to better understand the effects it has on both mental and physical health.
A total of 187 workers from a variety of occupations and demographic groups who completed four separate questionnaires were studied by the researchers. They discovered that the most important risk factors for work addiction were high work demands and people who worked in high pressure roles, such as managers with more responsibilities.
There was a higher chance of developing a work addiction when this was combined with working more hours than necessary and having an obsessive attitude towards work. Additionally, it was discovered that women are more likely than males to become addicted to their jobs. Other studies have found similar results, albeit it’s not quite obvious why women were found to be more susceptible to work addiction.
Comparing those without a mental health issue to those with depression, the likelihood that a worker may become addicted to their job doubles. Low levels of general well-being, high levels of stress, and poor sleep quality were all found to be significant risk factors.
How to kick work addiction
While there is no overnight simple fix, it is possible to kick a work addiction and you don’t have to battle this alone. As you try to be healthy and fulfilled in your profession, there are people and resources that may assist and support you along the path. Here are seven tips for overcoming workaholism:
1-Put effort into fixing the problem
Admitting there is a problem is the first step for anyone battling addiction. You’ll need the drive to put in the effort to change once you’ve acknowledged it to yourself and made the decision to do so. Remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Aim to be a version of yourself that is less worried, more engaged, and well-rested.
2-Have a chat with your boss
Have an open discussion with your manager about the tendencies you’ve noticed in yourself, and then see if you can come up with a plan to modify those habits. A good employer won’t want you to feel overwhelmed or weary, or to have a bad work-life balance—especially if it’s influencing how well you do your job.
Your boss may be able to assist if you have too much on your plate by ensuring that the workload is distributed equally among the team members or by lowering the importance of specific duties. Or perhaps they’ll just check in occasionally and remind you to take a break for lunch.
This can be tricky at first. However, make sure you are leaving work on time, fully resting over the weekend and not checking your work email account. If you’re struggling, ask for accountability from your partner, or try putting your work mobile/device out of sight or someplace that is not easy to access. These boundaries can be particularly hard if you work from home.
4-Get sufficient rest
Another difficult one: schedule time to rest – you might even have to block this out in your calendar to ensure that it happens. Thinking about what you love to do and be intentional about finding time for these hobbies.
Why not use some leave time to take a family trip or have a break at home. It might be easier to go somewhere away from home so that you are not tempted to sneak into the office!
5-Get professional help
If your workplace addiction feels to hard to overcome, it may be time to seek the help of a therapist. They can help provide you with the strategies that you need to find more balance in your life and work through any hard to deal with emotions that might be linked to workaholism.
If you’re interested in speaking with one of our experienced psychologists online: to book, click here or call our friendly reception team on 1800 327 477 (AU) / 0800 327 477 (NZ).