If you’re in an addictive relationship with your career, it’s actually pretty common. Unfortunately, as Americans, our culture places a high value on being “busy”, and it’s hard to know where the healthy limits of productivity and achievement end before you tip over into burnout. Working hard is sometimes admirable, but overworking to the point of damaging your health is far from it. Here are seven ways to stop being a workaholic and start enjoying your life!

I thought that I was set in my career for life. I LOVED what I did. I was good at it. I worked every day with my husband, and the work we did was fulfilling and rewarding both financially and emotionally. The catch?  I was working seven days a week, 16 hours a day ignoring my health, both mental and physical.

I worked during vacations. I checked emails during family movie night. I would always find a way to squeeze in one last phone call, sometimes from the car on the drive home. I was a workaholic and my stress management was dangerously imbalanced. If you’re reading this, and have found yourself coping with the stress, and nodding your head recognizing what I’m saying, you may be addicted to your work, too.

being a workaholic can make you feel like you have to constant be doing more to the point it makes you fall apart.

Give Yourself Mini-Breaks Throughout the Day

Try to give yourself several mini-breaks throughout the workday.

A Pomodoro timer is an excellent way to time breaks throughout your day. The name comes from the Italian word for tomato (as in a little timer that’s shaped like a tomato). The Pomodoro method is based on the idea of giving one task intense focus for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.

Several Pomodoro apps are available and customizable for work and break periods.  

Studies show that working for short bursts and giving yourself mini breaks can be more productive, than pushing through in larger chunks.

Most find a better balance and increased productivity in doing bursts of work in 25-minute increments with 5-minute breaks to stretch, walk around, get some fresh air, or use the restroom. After several “work sessions” (usually four 25-minute work periods) most timers suggest a more extended break consisting of about 20 full minutes.

Stop Worrying About What Others Think

Often we put perceived pressure on ourselves and our work and how we appear to our colleagues and our superiors. Long hours at the office may give off the appearance of a particular work ethic or a sign of loyalty to a company. This kind of thinking is inaccurate and unhealthy.

Try pushing back against that feeling and remember that what you believe you are, you will become.  Your words and thoughts have meaning. We’re all in a competition as to who can be busiest. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive.

Life eases into a new state of “being” instead of constantly “doing.’

“It’s not enough to be busy. The question is, what are we busy about?”

– Henry David Thoreau

Workaholism is Serious

While there is technically no formal definition of a workaholic, this article in The Atlantic explores the idea that workaholism is a legitimate mental condition with about 10% of the US population as being “clinically” diagnosable (should it become a formal diagnosis).

The article goes on to specify that sufferers often detail sleep issues, weight gain, depression, and even high blood pressure as an effect of the endless cycle of working.

According to this article in the New York Times, some workaholics will purposely create an issue within a company to give themselves “more work,” which can be costly and time consuming for a company and its available resources.

This monumental study conducted in 1992 of both men and women found that those who were defined as workaholics according to the study both had a higher than average level of perfectionism, job stress, and possessed an inability to delegate responsibility and also listed far more health complaints.  

Workaholism isn’t just a catch phrase that can be thrown around. The evidence is clear, that workaholism can cost both you and your employer in costly ways.

It is worth noting, workaholics anonymous is available to you should you need additional support beyond this blog post. You can check out where your local meeting is by clicking this link.

As a workaholic I know first hand how much I gave to my work and how overwhelmed I was.

Create a Real Work-Life Balance

This can be the hardest one of all when it comes to establishing a work-life balance. When you go home, make a point of turning off your phone, shutting down your computer, and unplugging from your responsibilities.

My family and I now have “no tech” times when we eat meals together whether at home or out at a restaurant.  In all aspects of life, it is important to establish healthy boundaries.

Often, if you communicate your boundaries with your co-workers, boss,, and clients. It’s my time for my family, my friends, and my life. Workaholism isn’t just for those who hate their jobs. You could love your job immensely and totally be a workaholic. It’s especially important for those who have a passion for their work that they also create boundaries around work and self-care.

It can be an adjustment to experience that disconnect, but once you go there, you’ll have a hard time returning to the emails in your “off” time.

Coping with Stress

True workaholics have a hard time turning off the constant thinking and to-do lists in their minds.

Meditation is a great way to slow down the mind and find calm and stillness. I love the app, Calm for this. By taking some time every day to consciously slow down your breathing and more importantly, your mind, you may find you can benefit in your work in different ways.

Often people report more clear thinking and decision making after meditation. I’ve found this to be the case.

Meditation can seem intimidating to some. It doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s one of the easiest most beneficial things you can do for your mind and your body.

According to this article in the Mayo Clinic website, meditation is one of the best remedies for stress. And if you’re at all skeptical this book can help you navigate some of that.

dealing with the stress of work can compound your feelings of being a workaholic

Learn How to Set Boundaries

The chronically overworked tend to have trouble setting and keeping boundaries. Practice setting a work schedule and a rest schedule. Don’t’ freak out if you need to stay late or work a bit on the weekend, but if you do need to put in overtime, do it with intention and set a firm schedule for when you will work and when you will be done and stick to it.

Scheduling your personal life might seem foreign, but equally important to set aside time on your calendar for self-care.

Being a workaholic can hurt your relationships, your team, and, ultimately, your work. For many, not taking the time to develop preventative measures around their work addicted tendencies can lead to burnout. By practicing self-care, setting firm boundaries, and sticking to a schedule, you can create space to rest, recover, and commit more fully to your work in a healthier way.

How are you managing your work addicted choices? Let me know by sharing with our facebook group right here. Or go ahead and re-pin this blog here to share with other friends and family you may know who are navigating the workaholic trenches.

It's not easy to realize that you're a workaholic, and that you're dedicating all of your free time and energy to your work. Here's how to help you move on and find joy again.