While many employees would love more time off, job insecurity and technology that keeps them constantly plugged in can often get in the way. Some people manage to make things work. They carve out time for their personal lives, they find ways to work more efficiently, they know when to let go. But for others, it can be a slippery slope from a busy work month to endlessly busy work life. Such a lifestyle can lead to detrimental long-term consequences that is often the reason behind clients seeking outside support through Healing Path Counselling Services.
The first, and sometimes most difficult step, is simply recognizing the problem. While the list below is not all-encompassing, read on to see if you have symptoms of a workaholic.
1. You work longer than your colleagues
Workaholics are typically the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave, or they log in after-hours and work into the night. Do extra hours equal productive hours? Not often. In fact, most people say that breaks, time off and self-care enable more productivity in fewer hours.
2. You can’t turn off
Workaholism isn’t simply defined by working long hours. True workaholism, is the inability to turn off thoughts of work. A workaholic is someone who is on vacation and is dreaming about being back in the office. A healthy employee is in the office dreaming about being on vacation. And there are benefits to daydreaming. Pleasant daydreams allow us to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system or our body’s “rest and digest” response. But work worries – even on vacation – activate the body’s stress response. The more you can turn off outside the office and stay calm during work hours, the more you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and disarm your body’s stress response. It doesn’t matter where you are – what matters is what is going on internally by way of your thoughts and emotions. This is where Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can assist in identifying your thought processes and how it impacts your mood, your body’s physical responses and your actions.
3. Your body feels unwell
Workaholics have a lot of bad habits that can hamper health. Constrained for time, some turn to junk food, some inhale lunch at their desks and others skip meals altogether. Exercise is often abandoned and sleep habits get thrown off schedule. The same ailments are consistently seen among the overworked: gastrointestinal problems, headaches and migraines, weight gain or loss due to poor diets, increased irritability and tiredness, heavier substance use as a form of stress relief.
This occurs when your stress response is over-riding your rest and digest response. What happens is our body secretes cortisol, adrenaline and a lot of other hormones that are really detrimental physically which, in turn, lowers our immune system and clogs our arteries.
4. Your relationships are strained
Workaholics need to look no further than to their loved ones for signs of their work addiction. Loved ones are often the first to feel their absence. When people who love us tell us, ‘I never see you’ or ‘you’re never around,’ it’s time to reevaluate our work-life balance. Workaholics tend to miss important life milestones like anniversaries and birthdays because of work. They have a hard time saying “no” to the boss and an even harder time saying “yes” to the family. Eventually, marital issues tend to surface. And the concern doesn’t stop there. Children of workaholics tend to have more anxiety or depression.
5. You tie your worth to your work success
Workaholics define their very existence and self-esteem by achievement only. Work addicts consistently tie their value and identity to their work and feel destroyed by less-than-stellar results. The culprit is usually found in perfectionism. With these unrealistic expectations, a worker will rarely feel satisfied with themselves. Learning to let go of perfectionism and unhinging self-worth from performance is recommended. These beliefs are often rooted in clients’ core schemas and can be uncovered through CBT counselling.
If you can relate to any of the above and would like some assistance – please connect at Healing Path Counselling Services.
Join us next week when we discuss tips for better work-life balance.