When Enough Becomes Too Much: Workaholism

Workaholism is one of society’s respectable addictions. It comes with costs, however. Organizations that allow people to be workaholics see a loss in terms of productivity, workaholics have poor relationships and employee engagement, and their health often suffers.

The impact on people and the organizations of overwork are significant. The Work Foundation reported that job satisfaction has plummeted and that so-called “high performance” management techniques actually increased worker dissatisfaction and performance. Several Gallup studies have pointed to increasing levels of job dissatisfaction among workers in all industries.

Despite logging in mega hours and sacrificing their health and loved ones for their jobs, workaholics are frequently ineffective employees. Workaholics tend to be less effective than other workers because it’s difficult for them to be team players, they have trouble delegating or entrusting co-workers, or they take on so much that they aren’t as organized as others.

It’s also bad for a person’s health.  A study published in The Lancet finds a strong connection between people who work 55 or more hours per week and cardiovascular disease. Those who work such long hours were found to have a 33% increased risk of stroke and 13% greater chance of developing coronary heart disease compared to people who work the standard 35- to 40-hour work week.

Take this quiz from CNN to find out if you’re a workaholic!

Working overtime in general, even if it’s not the 55 hour maximum the group studied, also affects health outcomes negatively. Working between 41 to 48 hours led to a 10% increased risk of stroke and upping work hours to between 49 and 54 hours a week caused a 27% increased risk of stroke.

If you’re a workaholic and looking for some suggestions on how to begin to change your habits, consider these suggestions from Inc:

1. Learn to stop!

Make a pact with yourself that you will not work past a certain time, and honor that time to shut everything down.

2. Take a break!

Give yourself breaks during the workday, even if they’re small ones. Take advantage of the neighborhoods, parks or beaches surrounding your Barrister suite.  Take a short walk along the beach or around the office –anything that changes the scenery.

3. Change your mindset.

You may be among those who believe that long hours demonstrate a great work ethic and that those who take breaks, vacations, or PTO days are somehow lazy or less committed. That way of thinking is both inaccurate and unhealthy.

4. Treat it seriously.

When you are consumed with work and act as if your life were dependent on your job, you’re likely damaging your health and relationships. You need to take change seriously.

5. Don’t bring work home.

When you go home, make a point of turning off your phone and disconnecting from your email. Spend time with your friends and family.

6. Meditate!

More than most people, workaholics need to learn to turn off their thinking mind. The practice of meditation is a great way to make that happen. Take some time every day and consciously slow down, breathe, relax, rest your mind, and feed your heart.

7. Set healthy boundaries.

Many people who are prone to chronic overwork also have trouble setting and maintaining boundaries. As a starting point, make a work schedule and commit to it.


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