Have you ever heard of the term “workaholic”? Work is a crucial social activity for earning money and it takes up a large portion of our 24 hours. For many, work is a foundation of livelihood, and for some, goals at work are a direct indicator of their ambitions in life.
There is more to work than just monetary rewards. Work can provide us a sense of accomplishment, self-acceptance, and connection to society. As much as it provides, if we overdo it, it can cast a dark shadow on our mental and physical health. What can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming a “workaholic” so that our personal lives, health, and mental well-being won’t be at stake?
Am I a workaholic?
A workaholic describes a person who is addicted to work and works compulsively for long hours. It’s generally regarded as a negative state that is detrimental to one’s physical and mental health, but some people consider it a positive sign of enjoyment and fulfillment being met at work.
The definition of workaholic varies among experts. If you work long hours on a daily basis, and the following statements apply, you likely are a workaholic.
・I can’t stop thinking about work even on days off
・I sacrifice health and personal time to devote myself to work
・I find myself disinterested in non-work related topics
People who are prone to workaholism often carry heavy workloads and tend to be under excessive work pressure. If we find our workload increasing one after another or if we’re juggling multiple tasks at once, we should be cautious.
Work Fulfillment Impacts Our Well-Being
According to research, less fulfillment in work leads to unhealthier individuals, both physically and mentally. Long hours at an unfulfilling job puts our minds and bodies under a lot of stress. More hours invested in work means less relaxation and resting hours as well, causing a constant accumulation of stress without relief. This can lead to more serious conditions such as burnout, depression, and even karoshi (death due to overwork).
Generally speaking, work is a strenuous task that involves social responsibilities and it can be challenging to make it fulfilling on our own. To reduce unhealthy mental and physical pressure from work, we need to come up with ways to make work enjoyable and create that change together as a society.
However, we still shouldn’t work long hours even when we enjoy work. The higher ratio we spend on work every day, the more fatigue naturally accumulates with more potential damage to health. Regardless of whether we enjoy our work or not, excessively long work hours should be avoided.
Escaping the Workaholic Lifestyle
Workaholism is a condition caused by excessive long hours of work. To prevent this, the entire workplace needs to regularly review and consider whether the workload and working hours are appropriate for each individual. It’s also important to implement a system and environment where employees feel at ease voicing their working condition needs for a healthy work-life balance.
What can we do if we still find ourselves falling into workaholism? If we want to escape the workaholic lifestyle, we should consciously switch gears between work and personal. As for starters, try to become aware of the following two things:
- Find a hobby as passionate as work
Hobbies can be a great escape from work. It can lead to increased motivation at work to generate the money necessary for the hobby and help avoid long work hours to invest in personal time.
- Cherish time with family and friends.
Communicating with family, friends, and others who are not directly involved in our work helpslp us switch off “work mode”. Investing in relationships outside of the workplace also prevents social isolation later in life when we retire.
To prevent workaholism, we must understand our situation objectively, although It’s not easy to do when we’re overwhelmed with work. Remember to listen to family, friends, and colleagues who care about you most. If you think that you’re fine even though you’re overwhelmed and pressured with work, watch out. You may have already lost your way through workaholism.
Fujimoto, T. (2013). Psychological Distress and Physical Complaints of the Workaholic. The Japanese Journal of Labour Studies, 55(6), 47-58.
Takeishi, E. (2010). Challenges in Achieving Work-Life Balance: Implications from International Comparative Surveys. RIETI Policy Discussion Paper Series 10-P-004.