You Might Be a Workaholic If…

© Provided by Forbes Office
© Provided by Forbes

This article is part of a series on work-life balance. Check out the companion piece here and stay tuned for one more article: 6 Tips for Better Work-Life Balance.

Work ethic is an American value that runs deep, so deep that Americans put in more hours than workers in other wealthy countries and are more likely to work nights and weekends.While many workers would love more time off, job insecurity and technology that keeps them constantly plugged in can often get in the way. Some people manage to make things work. They carve out time for their personal lives, they find ways to work more efficiently, they know when to let go. But for others, it can be a slippery slope from a busy work month to an endlessly busy work life. Psychotherapist Bryan Robinson, who is also professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and author of the book Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them says close to a quarter of Americans are workaholics. And while that may be acceptable in certain work cultures, Robinson and other work-addiction experts agree that such a lifestyle can lead to detrimental long-term consequences.

There are strategies for scaling back and building healthier life habits. Read about them here: 6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance. And there are treatment options like therapy or Workaholics Anonymous for the more chronic cases. But the first and sometimes most difficult step, Robinson says, is simply recognizing the problem. Read on to see if you have symptoms of a workaholic.

1. You work longer than your colleagues

Workaholics are typically the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave, or they log in after hours and work into the night. Do extra hours equal productive hours? Not often, studies say. Instead, experts say that breaks, time off and self-care enable more productivity in fewer hours.

2. You can’t turn off

Workaholism isn’t simply defined by working long hours. True workaholism, says Robinson, is the inability to turn off thoughts of work. “A workaholic is someone on the ski slopes who is dreaming about being back in the office,” explains Robinson. “A healthy worker is in the office dreaming about being on the ski slopes.” And there are benefits to daydreaming. “If I’m dreaming about being on the ski slopes, I can be doing a bang up job, but I’m more calm and relaxed and excited about that possibility,” says Robinson, adding that pleasant daydreams allow us to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, or our body’s “rest and digest” response. But work worries – even on the ski slopes – activate the body’s stress response. The more you can turn off outside the office and stay calm during work hours, the more you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and disarm your body’s stress response. “It doesn’t matter where you are, it matters what’s going on inside of you. That’s the key,” says Robinson.

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Source: Forbes | Deborah Jian Lee

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