Having an addiction to work is a serious health condition, sometimes called workaholism. Work addiction is often known as the “respectable addiction”, but just like any other addiction, it occurs when individuals act compulsively in order to gain a seemingly rewarding result. Being a workaholic can have a detrimental effect on a person’s mental and physical health, as well as their relationships. Here, Port of Call look at the signs and symptoms of a workaholic and have put together a quiz to help you assess if you may be addicted to work. As well as this, we discuss the steps you can take to recover from a work addiction.
Am I addicted to work?
Signs and symptoms of a workaholic
Work addiction has one main characteristic: working excessively or compulsively. In a society, whereby hard work is something that is praised and working overtime is expected, it can be difficult to recognise a work addiction. If you feel compelled to work more hours than required, or an uncontrollable urge to work, despite it causing excessive strain on family life, physical and mental health, the chances are you are a workaholic.
Over the last 20 years, working hours have increased dramatically in both the UK and America. A DIT study showed 1 in 6 employees in the UK and North America were working over 60 hours a week, contrary to previous predictions regarding the working week, when American politicians believed that by 2000 a 14-hour working week would be in place. In reality, the opposite has happened and generally people are generally working much longer hours.
It is thought that employees in the UK work the most hours in Europe, exemplified by annual work hours declining by 24% in France, whilst increasing in the UK. It is also thought that employees now take fewer holidays than before. According to Expedia, only 38% of US employees took all of their earned vacation days, while it is thought only a third of UK workers take their full holiday entitlement every year.
How employers are trying to combat addiction to work
Workaholism is becoming increasingly common within the workplace and many employers are taking note, carrying out small changes to the working week to make it easier for employees to switch off from work and in turn, increase productivity.
A European car company has begun to switch off work emails of non-management employees automatically between 6pm and 7am. While this may not work for all businesses, the message being sent to employees is clear and most probably, well received.
Previous studies have stated that staying awake for 17 to 19 hours a day, working until midnight and waking up at 6am can be as detrimental as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05%.
It is thought that companies all over the world need to take a more active approach in encouraging employees to switch off after work and get enough rest, in order to improve employees’ health and overall productivity in their role. Some companies are going to the extent of offering bonuses for employees who use their vacation time and disconnect from work.
How to overcome work addiction
Addiction to work can lead to a number of problems, including the aforementioned physical and mental health problems, problems with home-life and even burnout. Burnout is a state of chronic stress, leading to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. In order to prevent burnout, it is important to assess the amount of stress in your life and find ways to reduce it before it’s too late.
If you are addicted to work, one of the best ways to unwind and take your focus away from work is by going on holiday and taking some well-earned time to relax. Taking a holiday can be the perfect way to forget about work and decide on the best way to gain a healthier relationship with work. According to a study carried out by Kuoni and Nuffield Health, going on holiday can have some of the following effects:
- Improvement in sleep quality.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Increased ability to deal with stress upon return.
These results clearly demonstrate that on holiday our resilience to stress (ability to physically cope with stress) improves. Becoming more resilient to stress is hugely important as most of us will return back to stress when our holiday ends. Being more resilient to it helps lay the foundations for improved productivity at work, better energy levels and ultimately, happiness.”
Whether you go somewhere in the UK, Europe or further afield, Port of Call have outlined the best places for you to go to rest and recuperate, combat your addiction and take some well-deserved time to relax.
How an addiction to work can escalate into further problems
Work stress and compulsive working has been linked to problematic alcohol use and substance misuse. The majority of people who have a drinking problem are in work. Over half of adults (55%) had drunk alcohol after work and 12% had drunk alcohol during work to cope with workplace stress. 90% of personnel directors surveyed by the HSE stated alcohol consumption was a problem for their organization and 17% of personnel directors described alcohol consumption as a ‘major problem’ for the organization.
Port of Call are experts in the field of addiction, from drug to alcohol and beyond. We can help you access addiction treatment at the right time, including detox, alcohol rehab, private rehab, drug rehab and residential retreats for work burnout.