Workaholism is an all too common part of city life. ‘Work hard, play hard’ has been the motto we have all lived by. However putting work before anything else can be detrimental to your wellbeing and affect your relationships.

I’m a workaholic. Before long I’m travelling on my nervous energy alone. This is incredibly exhausting – Eva Gabor

Don’t get me wrong. Some people thrive on being a workaholic.  In early and last to leave, they somehow manage to work constantly like this without ever reaching burning out. However, for some of us, burn out is a sad reality of pursuing a career in the city. Workaholism can lead to isolation, loneliness, panic attacks, anxiety, depression and alcohol dependence.

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1. First to start and last to leave

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Workaholism is often taken as a compliment.  Someone who works long hours is obviously committed to their job. Workaholism is in fact another addiction hence the name.

1st-place

We were always taught at school that if we worked hard enough, we would be successful.  You are taught working hard = rewards. 

Being the first to start and last to leave may get you noticed, but not always for the right reasons.  If you can’t cope with your workload, then manage up to your boss. Simply weigh up what’s important and make sure essentials get done. Prioritisation is key.  Take regular breaks.

2. You can’t switch off

3am

It’s 3am and you can’t sleep. You are already thinking about what you need to do for the day, frazzled and sleep deprived.

It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, you are always thinking of work. With your other half, having dinner, away for the weekend.  You check your phone, answer emails and are ruminating about the working week.  You’re messaging on the way to work and on the way home. You don’t ever stop.

Turn your phone off or agree not to message after a certain time in the evening. Take holidays. Limit your overtime. Work through the evening and you will struggle to sleep. Find a way of relaxing which doesn’t involve going down the pub every night to unwind after a stressful day.

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Facebook does not count as a hobby.

This is the mum’s advice I didn’t really listen to. Don’t give up your interests and hobbies. I used to write for a number of magazines but gave that up when I came to London.  I also used to volunteer for charities but I could never commit to a specific time or date. When work becomes the only thing in your life, you run the risk of becoming a workaholic.

Stress

3. You’re unwell. Like all the time

Workaholics tend to have bad health. Recognise these symptoms? Gastrointeritis, a cold that won’t go away,  headaches/migraines. Skipping meals. No appetite. No exercise. Drinking too much to counteract the stress. Lack of sleep. If you see this in yourself, trust me you are in deed a workaholic.

Ever heard of the ‘fight or flight’ expression.  When we are stressed, our body to secretes cortisol and adrenaline, which play havoc with our bodies if left for too long. Stress has a detrimental effect on our immune system and we become ill.

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I have worked through holidays (Christmas, Easter) and have cancelled holidays all in the name of work. What happens is that you burn out. You suffer from exhaustion.  When it gets to this point, you are really in the danger zone.

‘Understanding how to find the magic moments in your daily life is critical. If you subscribe to the philosophy that says, “My vacation will free me from burnout,” then you’re waiting for a few days out of the year to make up for many days of stress. Instead, you have to be able to take mini-vacations on a daily basis’.

Work Hard. Play Hard.

4. Your relationships suffer

Overworking means we have less time to spend with loved ones. Family life suffers as does our relationships with our other half and even friends.

Some people feel they can’t say no to work. Yet can miss an important birthday, wedding or anniversary. Don’t let work get in the way of spending times with loved ones.  You will never get that time back.

5. Ensnared by the ‘dangling carrot’

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Forget those ‘dangling carrots’. You know what I mean. The promise of a promotion. Pay-rise. If only you worked harder and longer hours. Stayed with the company for an extended period of time.

Taken from Wikapedia: The “carrot and stick” approach (also “carrot or stick approach”) is an idiom that refers to a policy of offering a combination of rewards and punishment to induce behaviour. It is named in reference to a cart driver dangling a carrot in front of a mule and holding a stick behind it.

6. Your self-worth is defined by work

workaholic

Work alcoholics tend to derive their self-worth through their career. If you only value yourself by the work you do, your self worth is then at the mercy of the organisation and people around you. Never able to enjoy the moment, having unrealistic expectations of themselves and people around them.

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