“I Don’t Have A ‘9-5’… I Have A ‘When I Open My Eyes to When I Close My Eyes’”

Being a workaholic is sometimes seen as a harmless joke to make when someone works too much and relaxes too little. However, this sort of lifestyle often has a profound impact on a person’s mental health and well-being. 

Our culture has celebrated work to such an extent that many professionals do not feel comfortable asking for time off or taking a few days to rest and unwind. However, this fixation with getting the job done can have a damaging effect on an individual’s mental health. 

The journal European Addiction Research suggests that “10 percent of all individuals may be suffering from work addiction.” 

But what exactly defines work addiction? And what is the significant impact it may have on your mental health and well-being?

What is Work Addiction?

Work addiction is simply defined as an inability to stop working. 

First Thing First: Rest is necessary to maintain a sound and healthy state of mind. 

Second Thing Second: Why do so many professionals hesitate to take a few days off from their jobs?

While it is essential for almost everyone to work regularly to support themselves and their loved ones there is a line that is crossed when one works too much and does not take some “me-time.”

Just like those who struggle with alcohol and drug abuse, professionals addicted to their jobs and “climbing the corporate ladder” also get that same euphoric feeling when working.

So, what is the difference between those struggling with addiction and mental health issues and those addicted to working and mental health issues?

Where Shall We Start?

Drugs and alcohol create a physical hold on a person, while work addiction is usually considered a mental illness – rather than an addiction. Individuals suffering from workaholic tendencies tend to spend more time focusing on work and less time taking care of their own mental health and well-being. 

According to the University of Nevada, Reno, suffering from an addiction to work and your career leads to a number of destructive behaviors, including:

  • Panic attacks and nervous breakdowns
  • Fatigue and burnout
  • Overall poor health
  • Impaired judgment and poor decision-making
  • Decrease in overall job performance
  • Lower motivation and dedication
  • Reduced passion in your industry and company
  • Diminished productivity and efficiency

The relationship between these psychological issues and workaholic behaviors was measured by the journal Plos One. The study was conducted on over 16,000 workers and found a significant and positive correlation between individuals displaying psychiatric disorder conditions and workaholism.

This correlation suggests that individuals who exhibit workaholic behaviors likely have other mental health problems. Unfortunately, based on their community and opinion of psychological treatment, these mental health problems often go untreated. 

Dream Job = Getting Paid to Sleep

Okay, okay… unless you’re a millionaire or billionaire, we know this is merely impossible for almost every working individual.

However, it is critical to implement a positive work-life balance that will allow you to focus on your job performance as well as help you achieve a healthy mental state.

The good news is that as companies start to understand the need for their employees to have good mental health in order for employees to remain effective, they are mandating their workers take paid time off. 

Some common ways companies encourage a work-life balance include:

  • Taking time off to spend with family and friends
  • Taking time off to enjoy some hobbies and activities 
  • Taking time off for a vacation or staycation
  • Taking mental health days to rest your mind and reenergize your mental capacity

The Journal of Research in Nursing also mentions how meditating can help with stress and work-life balance because it promotes several key mental health benefits. This focus on self-care leads to more experiences that add to a person’s feeling of accomplishment and an improved mental, physical, and emotional well-being. 

Understanding the Effects of Work Addiction & How it Relates to Substance Abuse

Working too much eventually leads to burnout and the potential collapse of your mental health. Having a mental breakdown may be the final straw for some individuals that are unable to put work away for a few hours, or even a few minutes, to readjust their mental health and brainpower.

Addressing workaholism is in the best interests of both the individual and the company. As such, employers should be just as concerned with combating workaholism, as the employees that are falling victim to it.

So, What’s the Solution for the Ideal Work-Balance Life?

There is no doubt that the professional world today is becoming increasingly fast-paced with talent entering the field on a regular basis. This makes it imperative to continue to grow and develop in your current position, but it also means that you deserve a break occasionally to refresh and reset.

Your superiors should be aware of the importance of a work-life balance for employees. If not, there is no harm in having an open conversation with your managers to determine what is needed for you to perform your job and tasks at the highest quality possible and within a timely manner.