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Workaholism: The Respectable Addiction

Jan 12, 2021
Courtesy of Kovert Creative

Picture the stylish, savvy businesswoman who keeps her employees on task in a way that increases company productivity while fostering a team spirit but is always the last one to leave the office. Or think about the well-dressed middle-aged man who works his butt off to make sure he gets the promotion his boss has been alluding to recently. How about the recent college graduate who needs to prove she’s worth the firm taking a chance on someone without experience by sacrificing her evenings and weekends?

These are all different strains of the same disease: workaholism.

You’ve doubtless been affected by workaholism in your own life, whether it was one of your parents who was never around, it’s your partner who always comes home late, or it’s you who finds yourself repeatedly canceling plans last minute due to a sudden urgent email from your assistant.

Rather than condemning workaholism and the unhealthy lifestyle it produces, society tends to applaud this addiction. And that’s what makes it all the more difficult to overcome.

After all, workaholism looks nice…especially to your boss and your coworkers. Workaholics always receive looks of admiration when they share their accomplishments at parties. Some might even say workaholism is innocent. It doesn’t seem to break up a family the way an affair or a cocaine addiction would. 

But if we dig a little deeper, we find out just how sinister workaholism is. It’s the type of addiction that can be the reason a child feels like work matters more to her parents than she does, the straw that breaks the camel’s back in an already struggling marriage, or the source of challenging mental health problems that could include insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Workaholism isn’t as respectable as it appears to be.

During these challenging times, it’s becoming more and more difficult to strike a healthy balance between work and home life–especially if you’re literally working from home. People who would never have been considered workaholics in the “before times” now find themselves constantly thinking about work, checking emails earlier and earlier each morning, and choosing to work on the weekends because they can’t do their normal activities.

So what’s the solution? What do you do if you or someone in your family is a workaholic? Here are 7 ways to overcome workaholism:

  1. Own your work, don’t let it own you. Most workaholics feel like they don’t really have a choice when it comes to work. If they don’t continue working at the same impossible pace, they won’t receive a promotion, they’ll get fired, or they’ll let their coworkers down. In other words, their work owns them. It dictates their daily behaviors. But things don’t have to be that way. Instead, you can own your work by deciding how it fits into your life. Your work exists to provide for you and your family and to help you contribute to making the world a better place. Don’t allow work to control you.

    Wondering whether or not you qualify as a workaholic? Take this quiz to find out.

  1. Take breaks throughout the day. If you’re a workaholic, you might sneer at others who take breaks. Not answering emails on Saturday evening? Going on vacation for a week and a half with your family? Having an actual lunch break instead of quickly swallowing a granola bar during a Zoom meeting? Lazy, lazy, lazy. What you’re missing is that people who take breaks tend to be more productive in the workplace.

Be intentional about scheduling fixed blocks of time for breaks during the day, during the week, during the month, and during the year. It’s important to give yourself a work break mentally as well as physically. During your lunch break, listen to a podcast or read a few pages of a book so your mind doesn’t continue mulling over the email you just sent or your schedule for the afternoon.

  1. Develop a healthy mindset. One problem you might be facing is being surrounded by other workaholics in your workplace, among your friends, or even in your family. You might feel ashamed rather than encouraged to create a healthy work-life balance. In that case, it’s time to change your mindset. 

Recalibrate your work habits to reflect suggestions from a trusted, balanced mentor or counselor. This could involve turning your phone off at night, limiting your hours per week (and actually enforcing it), or designating anti-stress techniques for moments of intense pressure.

    Looking for all-natural ways to de-stress? Click here.

  1. Be unavailable after hours. This is one of the biggest challenges for workaholics, especially those who are currently working from home. When you can’t separate what happens at the office from what goes on at home, it’s tough to put aside work in order to be present with your family. Luckily, there’s a solution: be unavailable when you’re not working.

That means turning off your email notifications in the evenings and on weekends, not accepting meetings during your time off, and giving yourself an actual lunch break every day. Trust me, the company won’t fall apart just because you can’t be reached on the weekends.

  1. Start meditating. Lots of people struggle with being in control of their own minds. They find themselves thinking about work when they’re playing with their kids, watching the game with friends, or lying awake in bed at night. The best way to fix this is through meditation. Try a few different methods to find the ones that work best for you. And make sure you select a quick breathing exercise to use throughout the day when you feel overwhelmed.

Check out this list of meditations for decompressing after a stressful day at work.

  1. Find a different motivation. Before you can change your motivation, you need to determine what your primary motivations are. Why do you work so much? Is it because you’re achievement-oriented? You want to impress people? You’re afraid of disappointing others? You feel anxious or depressed when you’re not working? You feel like the burden of success rests completely on your shoulders? 

Spend a few minutes thinking about what motivates you. Then, find a new motivation. Maybe it’s spending time with people you love or creating something that makes a difference in the world. Maybe it’s doing new and exciting things or being passionate about serving people. Whatever your motivation is, it’s not just something to inspire your work. Rather, it should be something that motivates you in all aspects of life, from work to family to friendships to spirituality.

  1. Focus fully whenever you’re working. If you can’t focus at work and you feel distracted constantly, you could be even more at risk of becoming a workaholic. That’s because you won’t ever feel like you’ve done enough work to deserve a break. You need to be able to focus fully at work so you can reach your productivity goals. Hapbee Focus helps our members work faster and more efficiently so they can keep work in its place and then relax and enjoy life. Balance is key.

    Read about how one former workaholic used Hapbee to bring his life into

balance here.

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