Adrian’s wife checked his husband’s suitcase before they left on a much needed two-week vacation – but she wasn’t looking to see whether he’d packed enough clothes . The reason was instead the fact that Adrian was addicted to his job , and she was searching for the work papers that he often brought on these trips . However , she never found the stack of his company’s financial statements hidden in a pair of jeans .
Anne’s new business venture was a booming success . For sure , it took all of her free time to get things rolling . After five years of putting in 60 to 80 hours a week , she struck gold , and now she really can’t slow down . She even keeps her smartphone by her bedside so she can answer contacts in the middle of the night ! She promised herself a vacation a couple of years ago , unfortunately , it never happened . Her friends try to warn her that someday she’ll crash and burn .
Workaholism is one of the most difficult addictions for people to admit to . People who are obsessed with their work to the point that it damages their relationships and health are often in denial as our society mostly affirms the workaholics . Companies often reward the employees who overwork . The boss stands up at the annual Christmas party and brags about those employees who put in 60 to 80 hours a week . Work addiction can happen to anyone ( paid or unpaid ) who takes on too many responsibilities . And , the results for sure can be deadly .
What is an workacholic ?
Dictionary defines a workaholic as someone who is addicted to work . There is a difference between being “a hard worker” and being “addicted to your job” . Putting in some extra time to complete a project now and then is not the same as being chronically focused on work . Hard workers think about being at home with their families while staying late to finish a job . The work addicts instead are constantly thinking about their employment while being at home or with friends .
Sometimes , people will say they are workaholiscs to communicate how much they love their jobs . But people who are truly addicted to overwork , cross a sensitive line that sooner or later damages their health and relationships . They usually have deprived sleep and don’t exercise . They have children who hardly ever see them because they leave for work early and come home late . Or , they’re often on out-to-town business trips .
The Addiction Help Center defines the work addiction as a “process addiction” , which is defined as an addiction to certain behaviors or processes that can alter the mood and brain chemistry . “It becomes a problem when there is no balance and the boundaries are weak “
Mobile technology increased even more the blur between our jobs and personal time . It is making unplugging from work even more difficult for workaholics . The temptation to respond to bosses or clients who “need you” , often leaves spouses , children , or friends pushed aside . Telling your kids for example : “I’m doing this for you” , is again something which simply doesn’t cut it .
In some countries , work addiction is a cultural phenomenon . For example , many East Asian nations report high suicide rates among exhausted laborers who are extremely devoted to their jobs . The Japanese have even coined a special word for work addiction – “karoshi” , which literally means “death from overwork” .
In the article “Working to death in China” , published in “The Diplomat” , Charmika Monet states that an estimated 600000 people die every year in China due to work-related stress and its effects . China has become the nation with the highest incidence of death from overwork .
Research showed that the manual laborers working long hours are much less likely to die from strenuous work . The deadly pressure is almost completely among those with jobs that require mostly mental activity .
The payoff to putting in overtime has however its limits . It isn’t as simple as working more and getting paid more . Studies instead , have revealed that productivity begins to decline after a 50-hour workweek . Health risks climb as well , and the work relationships begin to break down . Even people who made more money have less time for leisure and relaxation .
Am I a workaholic ?
Like many of the addictions , it is difficult for workaholics to see their damaging dependency on work in order to feel good . It is hard to admit your problem when clients send “Thank-you” notes and the employers pat you on the back , even though in reality your personal life is falling apart . An inferiority complex can compel someone to search for value in the work , or from the employers , at the expense of healthy living . The workaholics can even become addicted to the adrenaline rush of putting in crazy hours or trying to meet unrealistic deadlines .
The author of the “Workaholics : The Respectable Addicts “ , Barbara Killinger ( who is as well a clinical psychologist ) , divides work addicts into three groups : controllers , pleasers , and narcissistic controllers .
The individuals in the first category think that everything has to be done their way .
The individuals from the second category want to make everyone else happy .
However , the third category is the most damaging – the narcissistic controllers being essentially shutting off the feelings over how their work habits negatively affect others .
Listening to your loved ones or your doctor can help you very much recognizing the symptoms of the overwork . Being in tune with your body can also reveal that your stress-related illnesses come with work addiction . Are you by chance feeling tense , tired , or worn down ? Then , it’s time to think ! Workaholics often die from heart attacks or strokes and the chronic depression as well is prevalent among the work addicts .
God’s solution to work addiction
If you happen however to believe in God , remember that He has a solution to this problem , too .
God knew that the human beings need time for rest , thus He created a way for them to find it . Built into the heart of the Ten Commandments , the fourth one is an antidote to the frenzied lives of the people who find it difficult to stop and it is called Sabbath .
The answer to workaholism is not to completely stop working but to live with balance . It is about learning when to work and when to stop . God’s gift of the Sabbath is especially beneficial to those who are addicted to work .
From the Bible we learn that God spent six days creating our world , and then He rested . “On the seventh d ay God ended His work which He had done , and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done . Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it , because in it he rested from all His work which God had created and made “ ( Genesis 2:2-3 NKJV )
Have you ever wonder , why would an all-powerful God need to stop working ? His rest wasn’t for physical refreshment . It was instead an opportunity to connect with His creation . God has left us an example , yet , many people now live as if their work would be more important than the Creator’s , the One who made us and knows what is best for us .
The Sabbath is more than only a good advice , and the fourth commandment is specifically addressing the issue of work .”Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy . Six days you shall labor and do all your work , but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord you God . In it you shall do no work “ ( Exodus 20:8-10 NKJV )
Thus , stopping form our regular work is not only a way to acknowledge God as the Creator , but also to remind us that we are the created . The Sabbath tells us that we are not God . It sets our priorities straight and establishes the healthy boundaries that keep work and worship in balance . And , in case we are inclined to forget , this Sabbath commandment begins with the word “Remember” !
Keeping the Sabbath acknowledges that a Higher Power determines our lives and gives us value . Our significance doesn’t stay in our work . Our security is not based on our income . We exist because we were created and we stop our work to remember that we are loved .
Diane Fassel , the author of “Working Ourselves to Death” , points out that even if workaholics won the lottery , they would still be addicted to their work , because the driving force behind the addiction is never the money . It is instead the enormous amount of anxiety and unresolved psychological issues . She writes , “The underlying belief is that if I weren’t continually active , I’d have no right to exist . Like alcoholism , it’s a disease of the soul , a spiritual disease.”
In this sense , God’s cure for workaholism isn’t a new app for our electronic devices , but the Sabbath . Stopping our regular work every seventh day interrupts our obsession to focus on what we can accomplish and makes us remember what God has accomplished . Sabbath helps us admit that without God our lives are out of control . We cannot live sanely unless we connect to a Higher Power – a loving Creator who has a longing for our companionship and our worship .
Maurice was a true workaholic . He was making good money , but his wife was ready to leave him . His boss loved him , but his kids hardly knew their daddy . He felt chronically depressed and threw himself even harder into his job in order to cover the emotional pain and empty feeling that nagged his constantly .
Then , the most wonderful event took place in his life : Maurice lost his job . At first , he felt even more depressed , but it was a turning point . It gave him time to reflect on his priorities . Thus , when his wife suggested to attend a series of meeting about Bible , he agreed . During that seminar he was surprised hearing the presenter introducing the importance of Sabbath , as he assumed it was simply something only for Jews . But then , he read the statement “The Sabbath was made for man , not man for the Sabbath” which make him think more about the seventh day . By honoring God through keeping the Sabbath , Maurice not only put God in charge of his life but he was as well reminded that his value as a person was not in how much money he made .
Workaholism , like any other addictions , is a coping strategy that doesn’t work . It promises relief from underlying emotional issues , but never deliver . God’s plan instead , is the perfect solution for a healthy , balanced life , even for the work addicts . And it delivers !
Are you a workaholic ?
How can you tell whether you are simply a hard worker , or you are addicted to your work ? The following simple test created by the researchers from the Department of Psychological Science at the University or Bergen , Norway , will help you find out :
- You think of how you can free up more time to work
- You spend much more time working than initially intended
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt , anxiety , helplessness , and/or depression
- You have been told by others to cut down on work , without listening to them
- You become stressed if you’re prohibited from working
- You deprioritize hobbies , leisure activities , and/or exercise because of your work
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health
If you answered with “Often” or “Always” to any of these points , you may be a workaholic .
The research also revealed that about 10 percent of the average population from countries around the world is addicted to work .