For those of us who overachieve, it could be difficult to realize that you have an addiction to work. You’re so used to putting in extra time to achieve your personal and professional work and financial goals. When someone has a work addiction, he or she may feel the compulsive need to work excessively and frequently. On the journey to reaching our dreams, we could get sidetracked with the compulsion to work on that dream constantly. For others, you might be concerned about the possibility of having ADHD; although recent studies and research has shown that ADHD might not be as serious or accurately diagnosed as it has become in the last decade (For more about that argument and the different ways people look this disorder, you can read more about ADHD here.)
But, work addiction could come with a price — one that you may not even realize. Here are some signs that you could have a work addiction:
1. You cannot relax. You want to spend your off time doing work-related activities instead of a hobby you enjoy, such as hiking, reading that stack of books on your shelf or just taking a much-needed breather.
2. You lose track of time while working. You could say you’re working a 9-to-5 shift, but you could end up coming home at around 7 or later. You tell your significant other you will be home at a specific time or tell your friends you will meet them for drinks — only to work over.
3. You use work to curb negative thoughts and emotions. You tend to lose yourself in your work. You may feel anxious or depressed about another separate facet of your life, and then, you turn to work to help you bypass your emotions instead of dealing with them head on.
4. If you can’t work, then you’re stressed out. Remember the “Growing Pains” episode when the Seaver family goes on a Hawaiian vacation, but Maggie, the mother, has to sneak work? She hides out in the bathroom with her laptop to meet her deadlines. If she isn’t working, then she’s stressed out.
5. It’s straining your relationships. Those close to you ask you to stop working so much because they witness what it does to you and your mental health and overall well-being.
6. You’re sick more often. If you can’t shake that pesky cold or a chronic condition is getting worse, then the stress related to your work addiction could be affecting your health. You may not be eating well, exercising as often or at all and have a hard time getting to sleep at night.
7. You don’t engage in social activities anymore. Your other hobbies are nonexistent because you are so tied to your work and its schedule.
ProjectKnow.com identifies the following as effects of work addiction:
• Binging on work tasks;
• The need to have and maintain control;
• Exhaustion and memory loss;
• Strained relationships;
• Neglecting yourself and your needs;
• Feeling inadequate;
• And more.
How To Curb Work Addiction
If you found that you identify with one or more of the above signs of work addiction, here are so ways you may want to curb those behaviors:
Take some time to relax.
Take baby steps to integrate your former relaxing activities into your daily schedule. Go for that morning run to clear your head before heading to the office. Turn off your phone at least one hour before going to bed. Go to dinner with your spouse. Play with your children. Schedule some “me” time and take a bubble bath or go the gym. Whatever works for you, do it. It can lessen your work-related stress and improve your relationships with those around you.
Realize you aren't perfect.
The pressure of trying to be perfect with each word and number in your work will set you up to make mistakes. The sooner you realize that you are human and will make mistakes, then you will begin to learn to forgive yourself for not being perfect. Embrace the art of imperfection and what makes you unique. Heed this advice from one Mogul blogger.
Limit the work you take home.
Do your best to limit your workload during your at-home hours. Of course, pressing issues arise, but if it’s just an ordinary workday, create a personal mandate. Work one hour at home, and then, put up your files and computer to do something else. If you’re struggling with time management at work, create a to-do list, limit your personal conversations with others and say “no” if you’re too busy to take on a product at a particular time.
Seek help from a professional.
Talk with someone you trust, like a significant other, family member, friend or mentor. If you need to talk with someone with professional experience and expertise, consider talking with a licensed mental health professional. Even if you’re not willing to speak with someone in person, you might consider working with one of the online services like BetterHelp, TalkSpace,, 7cups, etc; but this type of counseling can help find solutions to your mental health issues wherever you are at a time and place that works best for you. You can do this in the comfort of your own office, when you’re feeling the weight of your work addiction take its hold on your everyday life.
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