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Challenges of Workaholism and Steps to Recovery

Updated on September 18, 2017
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Dr. Yvette Stupart is a clinical counselor and educator. She gives insights on how to experience emotional health and relational well-being.

Are You a Workaholic?

Workaholic Anonymous (WA) describes a number of signs of being a workaholic, including these listed below:

  • You get more excited about your work than about your family or anything else
  • You take work home on weekends, to bed or on vacations.
  • You constantly talk about your work and work activities
  • You take on extra work because you feel it won't be done
  • Your family or friends have given up expecting you on time
  • You feel it is alright to work long hours if you love what you do
  • You get impatient with people who have priorities other than work
  • You are afraid that if you don't work hard you will lose your job or become a failure.
  • You get irritated when people ask you to stop working to do other things.
  • Your long hours hurt your family and other relationships.
  • You think about your work while you are driving, falling asleep, or when talking to others.
  • You believe that more money will solve the problems in your life.

You will find it beneficial to read WA's complete workaholic quiz, and this could help to determine if you are a workaholic. WA suggests that if three or more are applicable to you, then there a chance you are a workaholic or you are becoming one.

This hub could help you to examine how workaholic behaviors negatively impact three important areas of your life - your health, relationships, and even your job security. It will also give you steps to help in your recovery from workaholism.

Are You a Hardworker or a Workaholic?

Challenges of Workaholism

1. Health Issues

If you are a workaholic, your drive to succeed in the workplace could lead to taking on more work-related tasks than you can manage. This could result in your neglecting your self-care which includes not eating properly, managing stress, and being out of touch with your emotions.

High levels of stress and mental exhaustion could result as you strive to meet deadlines and to "prove" yourself to your boss. If you don't take steps to deal with stress response, further mental health issues could develop including anxiety and depression.

Continued stress could also lead to negative stress reactions resulting in physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure and problems sleeping. In addition, it is possible that you might not be eating properly because you are so preoccupied with your work. A combination of these two factors could lead to further physical problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and digestive problems.

2. Workplace Related Problems

The irony is that though you are driven to succeed in your work, workaholism could lead to work-related problems, and even the risk of losing your job. For example, your unmanaged stress could cause you to be irritable which could affect your relationships with your boss, colleagues and clients in the workplace,

Another problem could arise because of your tendency to take on more than you can complete. You could find that your work is unfinished of low quality because you don’t have enough time to complete some of the related tasks properly.

If you have difficulty delegating tasks to others, this could be that you are not a team player. This might result from your tendency to feel that you have to be in control and handle things yourself. This could lead to more work than you can manage, which means more stress, which could impact the quality of your work.

Are You a Workaholic?

Using the Workaholic Anonymous (WA) check-list do you think you are a workaholic?

See results

3. Family and Relational Difficulties

You could become so consumed with your job that it negatively impacts your relationships including your marriage and family life. Like many workaholics you might rationalize that you work hard because you want to protect and do they best for our family, but this could be at a high price.

You might even say you don't have any choice, but your workaholic behaviors could affect profound negative effect on your relationships. What is sure, is that as you become more consumed with work, you are likely to lose touch with your spouse's needs, leaving him or her feeling unappreciated.

Your constant focus on your work could also result in your not spending enough time with your spouse. Thus the communication in your marriage could be on a superficial level, where you deal with only information and opinions, rather than moving to your deep feelings and desires. Your passion for work over your marriage could affect intimacy, which is the glue in your relationship.

Other relationships could also suffer including those with your children and personal friendships.

National Workaholics Day in 2017 is on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. It's time to take a break!

Dealing with Workaholism in Your Marriage

Steps to Recovering from Workaholism

If you are a workaholic, you can see from the discussion, that there are profound negative effects resulting from workaholism, including the impact on your health, personal relationships and your job. You will need to take steps to deal with the problem. Here are some simple steps you could take:

  1. Begin with recognizing that you are a workaholic. You might have some difficulty coming to this reality but you need to be honest with yourself.
  2. Take steps to find balance between your work and your personal life. This will come as you set you set new priorities for your time, and make every effort to stick to them.
  3. Get the support of your family and friends as this is extremely important as you embark on this new phase of your life.
  4. Take time to connect with others in common interests and activities outside of work.

Some of the recovery tools that Workaholic Anonymous (WA) uses are outlined in the table below, and you could find the complete tools very helpful on you recovery journey. You could also consider joining Workaholic Anonymous to get the help and support you need as you move forward.

Workaholism Recovery Poll

If you are a workaholic, what major step will you now take?

See results

Some of WA's Tools of Recovery

Tools
How WA Members Use the Tools
Listening
They set aside time each day for prayer and meditation.
Prioritizing
They decide the most imprtant things to do first.
sUbstituting
They do not add a new activity without taking one from their schedule.
Underscheduling
They allow more time than they need for tasks to allow margins for the unexpected.
Playing
They schedule time for play and refuse to work non-stop.
Pacing
They work at a comfortable pace and rest before they get tired.
Relaxing
They don't yield to pressure or try to pressure others.
Asking
They admit their weaknesses and mistakes, and realize they don't have to do everything themselves.

Moving On From Workaholism

While your work is important to you, it is essential that you find balance between your work and other aspects of your life, including your marriage and family relationships.

Take time to develop and enjoy your relationships, and explore stimulating and fulfilling activities outside of work.

References and Further Resources

Margaret Chuong-Kim (n.d.). How to Identify and Address Workaholism. Retrieved April 17, 2014

Workaholic Anonymous (2016). The Twenty Questions. Retrieved August 28, 2016.


© 2014 Yvette Stupart PhD

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 19 months ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with workaholism, Kylyssa. I am happy that you are working through the process and your are able to give valueble insight on the problem.

    • Kylyssa profile image

      Kylyssa Shay 19 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      I was a workaholic who had to stop working outside the home due to disability. It almost killed me. I refused to stop trying to work as a florist after getting terminated for being ill too often. I blew through about four jobs in a row, losing each one when my employer either discovered the extent of my health problems, saw me taking my prescriptions, or had to call an ambulance. It wasn't pretty. I feel sick to my stomach even thinking about it.

      It's nine years later and I still haven't fully recovered from the work ethic our culture pushes as desirable despite understanding full well it isn't logical. I still work at home more than full time for a lot less money and I sometimes still feel like I'm an awful person for not pulling my own weight and then some.

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks Torrs13 for your comments. Workaholism is a real problem in today's world, and it throws people's life out of balance. So serous steps must taken to deal with the problem.

    • Torrs13 profile image

      Tori Canonge 3 years ago from California

      I feel like our society has become extremely focused on working. I understand that we need to do it to make a living, but I think we put way too much of our time and energy into it sometimes. Personally, I leave work at work. I've fallen into the workaholic lifestyle before and it did nothing for me. I've also had friends and close ones do the same thing and that has severely hindered their relationships. You provided some great tips for those workaholics who need to have a change in lifestyle. Such a great topic to write on. Voted up!

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Heidi, and I'm happy to hear that you recovered from workaholism and doing the things you love,

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

      For a large portion of my career, I could say that I was definitely a WA candidate. Work addiction stemmed from lack of focus, not feeling that I was successful enough... the list goes on.

      Interestingly, when I got more control of my time and objectives, I've been able to quit overworking and start being overjoyed to be doing things I really love.

      Great info. Voted up, interesting and sharing!

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks MsDora. Yes, I agree, whatever form addiction takes, it pushes our lives out of balance, and that not good.

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      Dora Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Love the recovery tools table. Altogether, very good information and well presented. An addiction is an addiction. God help the workaholics!

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Wow, that's awesome! I'm happy that you found some useful ideas in my hub to help you to slow down some more. Thanks for sharing Pamela99.

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      Pamela Oglesby 3 years ago from United States

      Excellent hub. I have been a workaholic and still am to some degree. I have worked to slow my life down as I've aged, but sometimes it seems I am busier now than I was when I worked fulltime. I think I will take your advice and slow down some more.

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks so much FlourishAnyWay. You are so right, a part of the reason for workaholism is the drivenness that comes with the cultural ethos of achieving at all cost.

      DDE, thanks for commenting. Yes, workaholism has grave consequences for families.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I know of workaholics and the way their characters affects their families. You have mentioned all aspects here voted up and useful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Terrific hub. Some company cultures cultivate and celebrate workaholic behavior patterns, wearing people out either quickly or claiming them for the entirety of their careers. I have seen some very angry people -- workaholics who were downsized or otherwise lost their job. When work is everything, it can be a very dicey, high stakes game that you play with health, family, career, and more.

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks for your comments Denise. Hopefully, your husband will take things easier when he retires. All the best!

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      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I am married to a workaholic. Life is work, there is nothing else. Once in a while we have a few hours together doing something. Thankfully, he is in line for retirement. Hopefully, things will be different then.

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      Yvette Stupart PhD 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks so much ologsinquito. Yes, people's work could suffer because of the addictive nature of workaholism.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      This is excellent. Like anything else, working too much is addictive behavior. It is ironic that being a workaholic could ultimately cause your job performance to suffer. Voted up and shared.