It’s great to prioritize work – even on Friday nights, to stay on top of every project, and to go after that promotion. But where do we draw the line between being career-focused and being career-obsessed? Though the term is often thrown around casually, workaholism is very much a real problem. It is especially common in the realm of remote work, where there is no clear boundary between one’s personal life and work life. In fact, it is probably one of the biggest challenges for freelancers. Being a workaholic can have detrimental consequences on your mental health, relationships, and wellbeing. Think you may be a workaholic? Read on to see if you show the signs of being a workaholic and for some advice on how to overcome this very real problem. 

You Can’t Switch Off

If you find yourself constantly anxious whenever you're not working, it could be a sign that you may be a workaholic.

Do you often feel uneasy or anxious whenever you’re not working? Do you struggle to fully unwind, even when you’re on vacation or spending time with family? If so, you may be a workaholic. Workaholics find that the act of working gives them a sense of grounding and comfort. They often feel guilty and restless whenever they take a break. As a result, they find themselves constantly thinking about work, unable to fully turn off. One way to counter this unhealthy habit is to set very clear boundaries. Although this may be difficult for those of us working from home, try blocking out specific times throughout the day for other non-work-related things, such as a quick 30-minute workout or a call with a close friend.

You’re Always Not Feeling Well 

In addition to the mental strain, being a workaholic often translates to physical stress. Not sleeping enough or failing to follow a regular eating schedule – which is not uncommon among workaholics – can have negative impacts on your health. As a result, workaholics sometimes find themselves suffering from ailments such as migraines or gastrointestinal issues. In light of the current COVID-19 crisis, it is more important than ever to prioritize your health and take care of your body. Start by paying attention to your sleep schedule and your diet and then focus on incorporating more self-care practices into your daily routine.

You Don’t Have the Best Relationship with Your Family and Friends

When your family/friends stop inviting you to events (because you cancel on them so often), this could be a sign that you may be a workaholic.

When you’re a workaholic, you often become so engrossed by your professional activities that you neglect those around you. Family members and close friends are often the first ones to feel your absence. When you miss out on important milestones and events because of work, they understandably become frustrated and issues begin to surface. Try practicing stricter time management and make an effort to prioritize spending time with those you care about.

You’re Always Checking Your Email

Are you a slave to your inbox? Do you find yourself compulsively checking it or feeling like your phone is an extension of your arm? While it’s good to stay on top of your emails and work messages, you should not be checking your inbox every five minutes. Depending on the nature of your job, some messages can wait. Learning how to let go and take breaks from work (even from communicating about work-related matters) is not only vital for your mental wellbeing but can also lead to more productivity during your work hours in the long run. 

Breaking the Cycle: How to Overcome Workaholism

If you think you show the signs of being a workaholic, it’s time to take a step back. There are many ways to address and overcome this unhealthy habit:

  • Set very clear boundaries between your personal life and work life. If you’re working from home like many of us, designate one specific room to work from. Once you step foot out of the room, make sure work is no longer on your mind.
  • Squeeze in mini breaks throughout your day to help you destress and refocus. You can listen to a song you like or make yourself a cup of tea.
  • Try reconnecting with yourself and your purpose. Perhaps you could be avoiding certain problems or fears through work?
  • And of course, don’t be afraid to seek professional help.