The fact that the words “workaholism” or “workaholic” are now part of common parlance shows the rising pressure that individuals are facing in their professional lives.
Consumerism and social media in particular are to blame as people constantly compare their success, or otherwise, to others. We increasingly strive to accumulate wealth and with that comes a pressure to achieve continuous success in the workplace.
Devoting yourself to your work is often seen as something positive or even noble. Those who commit themselves to their work tend to be most highly valued in the business environment, accumulate more wealth and are generally admired. That’s why it’s often said that workaholism is one of the few addictions that do not involve any negative consequences.
However, that’s not the case. Having a professional business profile and image to maintain also doesn’t help. It means that those addicted to work find it especially hard to seek help, even when they start paying a high price for their overcommitment.
The statistics show that increasing numbers of people in Europe are experiencing work addiction – a trend which was first noted in Japan, where it’s not uncommon to work 70-hour weeks.
What are the symptoms of workaholism?
Workaholism is often related to personality structures. People with a high degree of perfectionism and a tendency for compulsive behaviours are more susceptible to work addiction as they impose very high demands on themselves in order to compete.
Workaholism is most commonly characterised as a constant inner compulsion to work or perform duties related to work.
This constant focus on work tends to be to the detriment of other spheres of life, especially family and physical and mental health.
They especially have difficulty controlling the time spent on performing activities related to professional work and controlling the number of tasks they carry out.
When attempting to stop or limit work, this is often accompanied by a feeling of uneasiness, anxiety, or agitation. This in turn leads to spending increasingly more time at work in a bid to reduce that anxiety.
A high risk of burnout
Getting lost in your work commitments can have many consequences. The most obvious one is burnout. In cases of burnout, individuals “feel that they cannot achieve their full potential, that they are disconnected from themselves, and that they’re devoid of any kind of nurturing that they need,” says Jean-Claude Chalmet, founder and leading psychotherapist at The Place Retreats.
As workaholics are addicted to their desire to become better, satisfaction is very hard to come by, while fatigue and discouragement become increasingly more common. In fact, work can even eventually stop granting any satisfaction at all, leading to a pursuit of quick fixes such as drugs or alcohol.
Physical and psychological problems
People who do excessive work are under continuous pressure and, as a result, have increased levels of cortisol (known as the stress hormone) in their bodies. Cortisol leads to difficulty sleeping, as well as problems with concentration and memory.
Workaholics also tend to experience a progressive neglect of relationships, interests, passions or alternative sources of pleasure.
Firstly, this is because the individual will be spending less time on these things but also, secondly, they find it difficult to switch off, even when they are physically present.
Workaholics often continue answering phone calls or e-mails or be tense and agitated by the state of not working, even while with their children or partners. Consequently, they can’t focus on their loved ones and be with them in the moment.
Other health problems
Physical health problems are another consequence of work addiction because workaholics live in a state of constant stress and pressure.
Studies show that someone who works for more than 11 hours a day is up to 67% more likely to experience cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, arterial hypertension, cerebral haemorrhage, cardiac failure, and arteriosclerosis.
How can you treat workaholism?
The journey towards long-term health begins by identifying your problem and seeking help. In the case of workaholism, it is best to seek professional help. After that, the positive effects of changes will come fast.
As with other addictions, cognitive therapy, biomolecular restoration, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and family therapy are all methods we employ at The Place Retreats to help change the destructive, exhausting patterns of thinking, behaviour, and their effects.
Psychotherapeutic techniques such as these can also be supplemented with acupuncture, massages, meditation, art or music therapy, kundalini yoga, and other complementary therapies.
The aim of the treatment is to encourage healthy stress relief habits that will help to maintain a balance between work and outside life. In turn, you will be able to devote more time to your relationships, passions, and interests.
We’re here to help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation conversation.