What is workaholism?
You may have heard people who work too much referred to as workaholics. In one definition, workaholism is comparable to alcoholism as it is “a soul-destroying addiction that changes people’s personality and the values they live by.”
But we tend to focus too much on the addiction, thinking that if we don’t feel addicted then we’re fine, right? I have a good friend who is a workaholic, though he’d never admit it out loud and you might not know it, either. He isn’t your typical workaholic, using work as a vice to escape or fill a void. He is happy. He is content. He enjoys his job and the work he does immensely, to the point where he doesn’t like leaving and feels empty if he’s not being productive all the time. Unfortunately, he works so much that he neglects his family and his friends and other crucial responsibilities in his life.
It’s hard to believe but even this type of workaholic– as productive and dedicated as he is– is unfortunately not living a healthy lifestyle and he too could be heading for a burnout.
Does this sound like you? Are you noticing that your friends and family are complaining because they never see you, and when they do, you’re working? Do you feel more stressed and like you’re in a tug-of-war with all your priorities? You’re not alone. In fact, in a study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association, “58% of Canadians report ‘overload’ as a result of pressures associated with work, home, family, friends, physical health, volunteer and community service.”
So what is the solution here? The solution is to start on the path to achieving a work/life balance.
What is a work/life balance?
If you are asking this question to yourself right now, your scale might be tipped too much to one side. Balance is part of being and living healthy. Too much of something is not good for your mind or your body. The CMHA define a work/life balance as “having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life.”
Like with stress, sometimes the symptoms of being off balance aren’t visible. Ask yourself if you seem more tired, more stressed, or if missing out on certain activities prompts a feeling of guilt. If the answer to some or all of these is yes, or you are still unsure, better to be safe than sorry and implement some changes in your life. The CMHA has suggested several ways to stay in balance at work, at home, and even in your community:
- Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day
- Do not make yourself available 24/7
- Be realistic about a number of tasks you can complete in the time you have available
- After work, take a brief walk, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine
- Let go of some of the chores at home that can be shared.
In your community
- Make choices. Social, community and volunteer obligations pull us in many directions. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say no to the rest.
And don’t punish yourself the minute you sit down to relax, either.
The problem we all face is that concern that we’re not working hard enough or fast enough or long enough and the second we take a moment for ourselves, our brains concoct this idea that we are lazy. Then of course what follows? Guilt.
You are not lazy. In fact, you are doing a lot more for your brain, your body and your practice than you think by taking that break for yourself every once in awhile. By spending time doing nothing, you are reducing stress, relaxing those tense muscles, giving your brain a much needed and well-deserved rest, and most importantly, you’re preventing burnout so that you can continue achieving success by doing the work that you love.
For more resources on workaholism and the work/life balance, enjoy the links provided below. Also, give yourself a break and take our short quiz to find out if you need to bring balance to your daily life.
- Psychology Today: The Personality of the Workaholic and the Issue of “Self”
- Psychology Today: What is Workaholism?
- CMHA: Work/Life Balance
- CMHA: work-life Balance: Make It Your Business