How Do You Know You’re Addicted to Work?

When it comes to starting a business or pursuing an entrepreneurial dream, we all want the same shot at success. Many people believe that to get to that point, you must work nonstop. This can very quickly become a consuming addiction, significantly interfering with your personal life and taking a toll on your career as well.

Addiction in any form is negative. Your relationships will likely crumble, and you’ll have a hard time finding satisfaction, no matter how many promotions you achieve.

A work addiction might make you look like a hero to your boss, but if it impedes balance in your personal life, it’s important to recognize problems and work towards solutions. Treatments might include going to cognitive behavioral therapy, trying a 12-step program, checking into an inpatient treatment center, reconnecting with nature, and treating a co-existing mental health problem. In some situations, you might have to quit your job and start anew in a less stressful work environment.

Although you don’t want it to get to that point, the most important thing is to get well again. As you work to identify whether you have a serious work addiction, consider some of the following warning signs.

Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors Regarding Work

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can manifest itself in many ways. In work addiction, it’s usually characterized by an obsessive need for perfection in projects, punctuality, presentation, and appearance.

You might find yourself stressing about getting to work on time and being the last person to leave each night. If you can’t control the urge to do extra every time, you could be a workaholic.

Regularly Working Through Your Lunch Break

We’ve all worked through our lunch break before, but when it becomes a habit, you know there’s a problem. You might feel this obsessive need to get as much work done as possible, but doing so can often leave you feeling more drained and burnt out than before.

“Many of us believe that the best way to get more work done is to work more hours,” says Stephanie Marston, a best selling author and motivational speaker. “But the reality is that we’re more productive when we build in intermittent periods of renewal during our day.” Consistently eating at your desk (or skipping lunch altogether) to work on a project is the antithesis of productivity and can be a warning sign of a serious addiction.

Excessive Anxiety Over Projects

When it comes to workplace projects, everyone develops a little anxiety. However, that anxiety can become overpowering, making you unable to focus on anything other than your project.

Your entire world will revolve around completing a work task to perfection. You’ll bring it home with you, even when you don’t have to. When you’re away, you’ll think about. And you won’t be able to stomach the idea that you might get something wrong.

Using Work to Avoid Emotional Pain

Those who have gone through a breakup, experienced a death in the family, have a difficult home life, etc. might find themselves using work as an escape. They’re constantly looking to stay busy because the consequences of stopping involve facing the reality of difficult circumstances.

Never Using Your Vacation Days

For most people, taking a vacation is one of the best ways to unwind and relax. But if you’re a workaholic, you can’t relax when you’re not at work, even if you’re on the most beautiful beach with idyllic temperatures.

“Workaholics cannot relax on vacation,” says Bryan E. Robinson, a psychotherapist. “Those people who are white-knuckling it [away from the office] and becoming irritated and snappy—they’re actually going through withdrawal.”

It’s not uncommon for people to forgo using all their vacation days. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the population don’t use their vacation time. However, if you stay because leaving stresses you out, that’s a problem.

Working Extra Hours Unnecessarily

Are you the first to volunteer when there are extra hours? Are you the person who stays late working on extra projects, even if the deadlines are well in the future? You might be a workaholic.

Those who have a well-balanced life rarely work extra hours because it will interfere with their home life. They’ll have hobbies, families, and friends they want to be with, and extra work hours usually won’t be prioritized unless they’re going through a difficult financial hardship.

Getting help for workaholism is just as important as getting help for substance abuse. Recognize the signs and contact someone to help you get your life back in order.

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