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All In A Day’s Work: Workaholics

By: Reagan Williams

Source: Shutterstock

The holiday has passed, but did you know that July 5th is considered National Workaholics Day? It falls on July 5th to intentionally remind people that they should rest after Independence Day. This holiday is listed on the National Day Calendar which gathers and shares special moments across the world of well-known and niche days. However, if you resonate with the word workaholic you are not alone. You might be part of the 48% of Americans that identify as self-professed workaholics reported by PsychologyToday.

The term workaholic is attributed to Dr. Warren Oates in 1971 in his book, “Confessions of a Workaholic: The Facts about Work Addiction. He introduced the idea that workaholism can become an addiction likened to alcoholism with an out-of-control need to work. There is a difference between being a hard worker versus a workaholic. The difference lies within having a strong work ethic and finding the balance between a person’s home and work life needs. A workaholic needs to be busy the majority of the time and falls into the category of performing tasks that aren't necessary leading them to completing projects.

Source: Pexels / Andrea Piacquadio

Occasionally, people tend to joke about being a workaholic and some readily accept it, but work addiction is real. At times, people associate a workaholic with dedication, grit, and ambition. Moreover, just like substance addiction, there is a multitude of reasons why someone becomes addicted to work. For some people, work can become an escape which allows people to avoid dealing with unpleasant situations and feelings by engrossing themselves in work.

Mainly, a workaholic will pay more attention to work-related topics versus paying attention to their personal lives or family. A work addiction may allow a person to feel competent in their work life versus other areas e.g., family, social life, and hobbies, which they might feel less assured about. Furthermore, a work addiction can be an indicator of underlying coexisting mental health conditions or can cause depression if it goes untreated. Work addiction can be diagnosed using the Bergen Work Addiction Scale.

If you identify as a self- proclaimed workaholic, you might not meet the actual criteria for a work addiction. Researchers have found that 5-10 percent of the population struggles with work addiction, according to Recovery Village. Work addiction is more common among women and the rates of work addiction actually increase based on a person’s level of education according to research. In fact, work addiction is really an addiction that has resources for people from group therapy, one-on-one therapy or joining a 12 - step group. If you think you might be a workaholic, you can take a twenty question assessment on the Workaholics Anonymous site with resources to help you.

In the meantime, there are some things you can try on your own from a digital detox, getting the proper amount of sleep and not saying “yes” to things work-related if you are already stretched beyond capacity. It’s important to find a work life balance, and taking time off to rest. You should take time off even if you don’t have plans to go anywhere. When you aren’t working you can gain perspective about what you want for yourself personally and professionally, which is truly an investment in yourself.

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