Being passionate about your work is a good thing. Being dedicated and hard-working is admirable, but what happens when your commitment starts to become unhealthy?
In today’s always-on world more people than ever are becoming addicted to their work. In fact, according to a study by Techtalk, 55% of US employees have admitted to checking work emails after 11 pm.
With the opportunity to work from anywhere and at any time, how can we tell when our passion has become an obsession?
According to the Bergen Work Addiction Scale, replying ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of the following seven criteria may indicate a work addiction:
1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities, and exercise because of your work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
Do these statements ring true for you? If you think you might be affected by work addiction here are some steps that you can take.
Many people think mindfulness is a load of bull, but research has shown that it actually works. You can practice mindfulness anywhere, on the train, at your desk or while exercising. In a nutshell, it’s about being fully present in the moment, focusing on one task (e.g. your breathing) and forgetting about everything else.
Keep up appearances
If you’re missing out on family occasions to stay late at the office then you might be showing some warning signs of addiction. If you want to break the habit you need to make time for the things that you enjoy. Practice your favourite hobby, make time for old friends and do the things that make you happy. These activities are a key part of your personality if you lose them you’re much more likely to fall into an addiction trap.
Work your set hours.
Work the hours you are paid to work and no more. Take your annual leave and use sick days when you are ill. You’re not a robot, you’re a human being. That means that you need rest and time to recuperate away from the office. That also means no checking work emails after hours, you need to create some boundaries.
Seek professional help
Work addiction can result from other mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder. The addiction could also cause mental health issues, such as depression. For these reasons, it may be helpful to have a mental health assessment. A qualified mental health professional will be able to help you to come up with a treatment plan.