Being committed to and passionate about your job are good qualities, but there’s a distinction between having a strong work ethic and being a workaholic—the former is something to be proud of, the latter is a serious condition. Do you identify with some of the following characteristics? If so, it could be time to seek treatment.
No. 1: You’re the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave
You might think, “I like coming in early because the office is quieter and I can focus,” or “I like to stay late because it’s a chance for me to organize my projects for the next day.” But be careful of doing both all the time. No one is meant to consistently log overtime.
No. 2: You work through lunch hour. Every lunch hour.
“Many of us believe that the best way to get more work done is to work more hours. But the reality is that we’re more productive when we build in intermittent periods of renewal during our day,” says Stephanie Marston, a motivational speaker, best-selling author and a stress and resiliency expert. In other words, take a lunch break whenever possible. Not only is consistently eating lunch at your desk a little disgusting, it could also be a warning sign of workaholism.
No. 3: You get stressed when you’re not at work.
Feeling stressed at work is occasionally healthy—it can motivate you to the finish line of an important project, or it could even serve as a sign that it’s time for you to take time off for self-care. But you should be concerned if the source of your stress is that you’re not working. “Workaholics that cannot relax on vacation. Those people who are white-knuckling it, and becoming irritated and snappy—they’re actually going through withdrawal,” says Bryan E. Robinson, a psychotherapist in Asheville, N.C., and the author of the soon-to-publish third edition of the book “Chained to the Desk.”
No. 4: You devalue personal priorities.
Do you make fun of “John,” your co-worker who always seems to be on vacation? Tread lightly. Workaholics have trouble with self-care and devoting attention to their families, so they also are mystified by co-workers who do. In fact, part of the “abstinence” treatment for workaholics includes instituting a self-care plan that allots for specific hours for work, relationships, play, and self-care.
No. 5: Your mind is at work even when you are not.
Be on guard if your mind constantly wanders to work subjects when it should be engaged in other activities. These can be called “brown-outs.” Similar to the blackouts of an alcoholic, a brown-out is a phenomenon where a workaholic “is so preoccupied with work that they’re not present in the moment they’re in.”
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