by Restorations Therapy Center on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020
Work addiction is a behavioral addiction. From the outside, it can look very much like ambition or dedication, but in fact people addicted to work are often driven by insecurity, the need for approval, or the need to be in control. People sometimes use work as a way to distract themselves from painful memories or emotions. As long as they are working hard on some objective, they don’t have time to feel negative emotions. Work addiction can harm your life in many ways, including alienating your family and damaging your health from stress and overwork. The following are some common symptoms of work addiction.
Perhaps the most common sign of work addiction is working long hours. We all have to put in a few extra hours on occasion to meet a deadline or respond to an emergency, but the normal thing to do is to take a break after the crisis has passed. People with work addiction tend to put in 60 or 80 hours a week, even if there isn’t that much to do. They can always invent work or take over someone else’s work.
Sacrificing sleep to do more work is a big red flag. Again, sometimes you have to deal with an emergency, but if you’re regularly staying up late to work a little more, that’s going to cause problems. You need sleep in order to function effectively. Too little sleep impairs concentration and memory and worsens your mood. You are more likely to feel stressed and anxious, which you will probably respond to by working even more. Prolonged sleep loss will cause your health to deteriorate, since sleep is when your body heals from illness and injury.
Another classic sign of work addiction is never taking a break. That could mean working through weekends or never taking vacation. No one can put in 100 percent all the time. People need rest after a period of hard work. A little bit of daily rest is necessary as well as an occasional vacation to just forget about work completely. If you can’t remember the last time you had a vacation or even a real weekend, it may be a sign of work addiction.
People with work addiction also tend to be extremely focused on specific work-related goals and have rigid ideas about how they should be achieved. As a result, they may have trouble delegating and letting other people do their jobs. People addicted to work tend to be micromanagers who spend a lot of time doing other people’s jobs, which is one reason they have to put in so many hours. They feel like nothing will be done right if they don’t do it themselves. If the thought of delegating a relatively minor task to a capable coworker makes you anxious, it might indicate a work addiction. Trouble delegating and micromanaging also tend to cause conflict at work, since most people don’t like having someone looking over their shoulder. If people tell you you’re micromanaging, you probably are.
A clear sign of any addiction is when you break promises to people you care about so you can engage in your addiction. Work is no different, but it often offers some plausible deniability since work puts food on the table. Most people understand if you have to cancel plans because of work, but they tend to become concerned if you cancel plans because you have to stay home and drink. Nevertheless, your family needs you to be present at least some of the time. If you’re always promising to make time for them but end up working anyway, that suggests you don’t really have control over your behavior and that your dedication to work may be a compulsion. Putting your friends and family second to work will inevitably damage your relationships. If you find yourself arguing over work a lot or generally alienated from your friends, they may be tired of being less important than work.
If your family does manage to drag you on vacation and you still bring work with you, it might indicate an addiction. Some people have jobs where they have to be available in an emergency, but a vacation in which you spend every minute on your phone or computer is not really a vacation, even if you aren’t in the office.
Work addiction doesn’t just hurt your family; it hurts you too. People addicted to work often experience a lot of stress while working. They want everything to be perfect, which puts a lot of strain on themselves, their coworkers, and their families. However, nothing is ever quite perfect and the constant strain of insisting on perfection can take its toll on your health. Stress-related health problems can include weight gain, high blood pressure, panic attacks, gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, acid reflux, and diarrhea, heart disease, and more frequent illnesses. If you never give yourself a break, your body may just take one in the form of a major illness.
Bad things will inevitably happen sometimes. If your first instinct is to go to work when bad things happen, you are probably using work as a coping mechanism. When you’re focused on an objective, you’re less bothered by problematic emotions like sadness or grief. However, putting these emotions out of your mind doesn’t make them disappear. They’ll just keep popping up until you deal with them constructively.
While people addicted to work often appear driven or ambitious, they are more often driven by fear of failure. They feel like the consequences of failure would be catastrophic and if they just work hard enough failure can be avoided.
Located in Centennial, Colorado, Restoration Therapy works with patients who are struggling with addiction, intimacy disorders, and trauma who are seeking treatment. In order to offer patients a more holistic view on healthy sexuality, Restoration Therapy offers individualized and group therapy, workshops, psycho-educational classes, and more to restore the harm brought on by addiction and intimacy issues. For more information, please call us at (720) 446-6585 as we are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.