If you can’t pull yourself away from your work computer without feeling guilty after you’ve already put in a full day, this article is for you.
In fact, you may be a workaholic. To find out more about what workaholism is, please read my article "What is Workaholism? How Common is It?".
Workaholism is complicated and everyone defines it slightly differently. Dana Harron, a clinical psychologist, said in an email that she defines workaholism as a “compulsive need to work.”
“Some other components of workaholism include obsessive thinking about work-related topics and deprivation in other areas of life such as rest, recreation and relationships,” Harron said.
“If somebody is a workaholic, the work takes on a function greater than paying the rent or achieving the promotion. It fills an emotional need.”
So what are the top 10 ways to quit this workaholism or work addiction (or at least get on the right track)?
Harron has two of her own tips:
1) “Meet with a mental health professional. This person can help you to figure out what the psychological function of the workaholism is -- it may help you to avoid thinking about something else, numb feelings, or feel better about yourself. Once you’ve figured out the functions, you can work on healthier alternatives for meeting these psychological needs.”
2) “Then you can work on the symptom itself; not by reducing work right away (this is like being a ‘dry alcoholic’ who doesn’t drink but thinks about it all the time), but by increasing time spent in other areas of your life that are important to you, such as relationships, involvement in the arts, family time, intellectual development, and time alone.”
Paula Rosario, a certified energy coach, speaker and author, said in an email that she herself has had a few bouts of workaholism, working as she did in the corporate world for more than 20 years.
Here are her five tips to help curb workaholism:
1) “Awareness: Most people who are dealing with some type of ‘ism’ deep down inside know there is something amiss with how they are living their lives. It's time to stop fighting it and listen to that nagging voice inside your head.”
2) “Limitations: Limiting your access to your work emails, iPhone or anything else that keeps you ‘plugged in’ is a good first baby step. Try starting with 30 minutes less time connecting with work at night. Test this out for a week. You can increase it by 15-minute intervals each week and work your way up to what feels comfortable.”
3) “Rewards: Make the extra time you will have from not working really something special. Think in terms of rewards -- more time connecting with those you love, reading a book, bubble bath, playing with your dog or your kids, etc.”
4) “Reality Check: Realize it is going to be a challenge and don't be hard on yourself and then consequently give up. If you fall back into the same routine, start again and don't beat yourself up.”
5) “EFT: EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique. It is an energy technique that is successful in treating stress, addiction, anxiety and releasing limiting beliefs.”
Lisa Peacock, a licensed marriage and family therapist, gave two tips to get out of a workaholic mind frame via email:
1) “Look at your relationships and honestly ask if they are what you want. If not, you will need to make some adjustments and create the lifestyle and life you want, not just the things you want to do. This takes reorganizing and finding joy in things outside of work. It might also take some analysis of stress and pressure.”
2) “It is important for us to say no. Really balance what is an emergency and what can wait until the next work time.”
And here are my own three tips for quitting workaholism:
1) Make doctor’s appointments and social plans (such as happy hour or going to the gym together) close to the time you’re supposed to get out of work so you’re forced to get out of the office on time.
You may still feel guilty at first, but at least this is a start to get your mind thinking about other things besides work. And you might actually enjoy yourself or at least get something outside of work accomplished!
2) Share your struggles with trusted family and friends and see if they can help keep you accountable (without criticizing) for excessive working or dwelling too much on work.
3) Use your vacation time! Try to plan in such a way that you don’t go months without taking a day off.
Harron, Dana. Email interview. August 20, 2014.
Rosario, Paula. Email interview. August 19, 2014.
Peacock, Lisa. Email interview. August 19, 2014.
Reviewed September 5, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith