Work ethic is a Nigerian value that runs deep, so deep that Nigerians put in more hours than workers in other wealthy countries and are more likely to work nights and weekends. While many workers would love more time off, job insecurity and technology that keeps them constantly plugged in can often get in the way. Some people manage to make things work.
They carve out time for their personal lives, they find ways to work more efficiently, they know when to let go. But for others, it can be a slippery slope from a busy work month to an endlessly busy work life. Work-addiction experts agree that such a lifestyle can lead to detrimental long-term consequences. There are strategies for scaling back and building healthier life habits. But the first and sometimes most difficult step, is simply recognizing the problem.
Read on to see if you have symptoms of a workaholic.
Workaholics are typically the first to arrive in the office and the last to leave, or they log in after hours and work into the night. Do extra hours equal productive hours? Not often, studies say. Instead, experts say that breaks, time off and self-care enable more productivity in fewer hours.
Workaholism isn’t simply defined by working long hours. True workaholism, is the inability to turn off thoughts of work. A workaholic is someone on a picnic who is dreaming about being back in the office. And there are benefits to daydreaming as pleasant daydreams allow us to trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, or our body’s “rest and digest” response. But work worries even on the ski slopes activate the body’s stress response. The more you can turn off outside the office and stay calm during work hours, the more you activate your parasympathetic nervous system and disarm your body’s stress response. It doesn’t matter where you are, it matters what’s going on inside of you.
Workaholics have a lot of bad habits that can hamper health. Constrained for time, some turn to junk food, some inhale lunch at their desks and others skip meals altogether. Exercise is often abandoned and sleep habits get thrown off schedule. Mental health experts who specifically treat work addicts consistently see the same ailments among the overworked: gastrointestinal problems, headaches and migraines, weight gain or loss due to poor diets, increased irritability and tiredness, heavier drinking as a form of stress relief.
Workaholics need to look no further than to their loved ones for signs of their work addiction. Family members and close friends are often the first to feel their absence. When people who love us tell us, ‘I never see you’ or ‘you’re never around, it’s time to re-evaluate our work-life balance. Workaholics tend to miss important life milestones like anniversaries and birthdays because of work. They have a hard time saying “no” to the boss and an even harder time saying “yes” to the family. Eventually, marital issues tend to surface and the damage doesn’t stop there. Children of workaholics tend to have more anxiety or depression.
Workaholics define their self and self-esteem by achievement only. Many work addicts routinely tie their value and identity to their work and feel destroyed by less-than stellar results. The culprit, is perfectionism. With these unrealistic expectations, a worker will rarely feel satisfied with themselves. Let go of perfectionism and unhinging self-worth from performance.
There are many other red flags for workaholism. If you are a workaholic, turn off the computer, leave the office, and spend some quality time with those you love. It might be difficult at first to disengage from work, but it will get easier with practice. When you look back on how you spent your life someday, you won’t regret you did.