Are you a “Workaholic”? Signs, Symptoms, and Effective Coping Strategies

If you weren’t aware, July 5th was National Workaholics Day! While the exact origin of “Workaholics Day” is unknown, the intention behind it is to increase a better balance between work and personal life for those who struggle to decrease work. I’m sure many of us have heard the term “workaholic” and possibly even used the term to describe ourselves. Surprisingly to some, work can actually become an addiction. Wondering if you’re a workaholic? Here are some common signs that you might be one:

  • You feel stressed more often than not
  • Work is your top priority
  • Fear of not working hard enough
  • Compulsions to continue working
  • Difficulties with discontinuing work, even when you have tried
  • Difficulties keeping up with other areas of your life such as health, sleep, eating, housework, etc.
  • Using work as a way to avoid other stressors/difficulties in life
  • Using work to fill a void that is missing in your life
  • Working to feel better
  • Others are commenting that you work so much
  • Losing interest in other activities outside of work
  • Feeling as if you cannot say no and/or commonly making yourself available for work
  • Not taking breaks, vacations, or time off
  • Losing sleep/time thinking about work

While some may attribute the amount of time spent working to workaholism, this is not necessarily the case. Workaholics are different in that they have an unhealthy obsession or compulsion to work and the work has a negative effect on their daily functioning. If you or anyone you know are suffering from some of the signs listed above, here are some consequences or symptoms of being a workaholic:

  • Burnout
  • Limited to no support system as the supports have tired from how much you’ve been working
  • Physical problems due to high stress (i.e. hypertension, increased pain, weight fluctuations)
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Perfectionism and/or imposter syndrome

If you or someone you know has any of the traits or symptoms previously discussed, there is hope and there are strategies to combat workaholism!

  • Mindfulness: Utilizing mindfulness practices can be an effective way to slow down and increase awareness of times you are working past your limits or taking on more than is effective.
  • Therapy: A licensed therapist and/or group therapy can be a helpful resource to increase your knowledge with boundaries, finding the root of the problem, and coping strategies to assist with workaholism.
  • Delegating: By breaking down a task or multiple tasks and distributing work to other coworkers, workaholics can learn to have better boundaries
  • Set limits/boundaries: Attempt to set limits with how many hours per week you will work, how much time spent after work you can work, and limit use of your work devices. (A helpful suggestion I received was to not have access to work e-mails or calendars on my personal devices)
  •  Plan your day: Pre-plan your days to include activities that have nothing to do with work
  • Learn to say no: Increase your abilities to say no to additional work requests when able to. Utilize effective communication strategies to set limits with supervisors and other coworkers.
  • Stopping work: Get into a routine of stopping work (and starting work) around the same time each day. This can be helpful to increase time management and also have a better work/life balance. 
  • Increase Rest & Leisure: Be mindful to intentionally implement rest, relaxation, and leisure time into your day. This is actually skillful behavior, we all need rest! 

While it is easy to fall into working a lot with today’s economy, stressors, and cultural demands, it is essential that we all find an effective balance between our personal lives and our work. Without it, there are various consequences that can lead to serious mental health and physical health difficulties. Make sure to prioritize yourself and your well-being if you are a “workaholic!” There is no one person who can do it all, and as far as I know, none of us are built Energizer Bunny strong. Take care of yourselves and relax! 

About the Author

Alyssa Eichhorn (she/her), M.A., LPCC-S, is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor that specializes in dialectical behavior therapy. Alyssa works with all ages in a radically genuine and nonjudgmental setting to help individuals identify more effective and balanced behaviors to create a life worth living. Alyssa provides a directive and warm approach with her clients to facilitate solutions, growth, and change where they want it. Click Here to learn more about Alyssa’s experience and therapeutic style.