How to Help a Workaholic – Treatment for Addiction to Work

workaholism

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  • “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” —Estée Lauder
  • “And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.” — Steve Jobs
  • “Get a good idea and stay with it. Dog it, and work at it until it’s done right.” —Walt Disney
  • “Work until your bank account looks like a phone number.” – Unkown

Idealising work has been around for ages. It solves debts and other financial problems, expensive family vacations abroad create long-lasting happy memories, and the best education also costs more than generally available education. And money comes with sweat, tears, and sometimes even costs you your health.

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The British Population Is Overworked

According to the 2021 Census, 62.9% of the population of England and Wales was of working age. This means that there were 37.5 million people, aged 16 to 64 years, who were part of the census. However, many younger people are already working, part-time or in the grey sector. And many more are working beyond the age of retirement. Current data shows that United Kingdom’s informal economy is estimated to be 10.3% which represents approximately $358 billion at GDP PPP levels.

With work slowly moving back to the office in 2023, stress levels are rising, and our communities are struggling to keep their productivity levels as high, creating an unhealthy relationship with their workplace and colleagues.

According to The Guardian, our country has a massive overwork problem. This subject fell into the limelight because of the stress-induced death of reporter Miwa Sado, who fell ill after doing over 159 hours of overtime. The study they shared shows that regularly working 49 hours or more per week was associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke. If people work 55 hours per week or more, the increased risk of an overwork-induced stroke was 33%. There was also a 13% increased risk of coronary heart disease.

The Burnout Phenomenon

Mental Health UK comments on the subject of professional ‘burnout’ – extreme exhaustion of our mind based on overworking them. According to their data, in March 2020, 46% of UK workers feel ‘more prone to extreme levels of stress’ compared with a year ago. This means that about 17,250,000 people were prone to mild to severe burnout.

Burnout can be caused by too many hours of overtime or pure physical tiredness, but there are also some hidden triggers such as:

  • Having to make too many decisions

  • Having to hold too many difficult conversations with colleagues or employees (letting them go, listening to emotionally harmful experiences, having arguments)

  • Being constantly ‘on-call’ and unable to have a real break from work

  • Constantly thinking about work while being away from work

  • Being so preoccupied with your professional responsibilities that you have no source of creative thought or distractions

Fighting burnout is a difficult task and requires a combination of holistic and traditional therapies. Group therapy can sometimes also help you if you are struggling with finding like-minded people who are also trying to create new, healthier management systems for their professional responsibilities.

Burnout can also cause side effects such as anxiety, trauma, depressive episodes or even unlocking PTSD symptoms. Being burnt out can end within a day or a week, but in most cases, it takes months to fully remove the harm done by overworking yourself.

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When Does Responsible Employment Become Work Addiction?

Addiction is defined as a chronic, relapsing condition that is characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite negative consequences. In the same way, some people become addicted to the feelings of self-accomplishment work brings. It is in fact an unhealthy obsession with work that leaves little time for anything else. People who are addicted to work usually experience symptoms such as:

  • Feelings of guilt when taking a break from work
  • Becoming irritable when not working
  • Losing motivation or pleasure in activities outside of work
  • Pushing others around them to work more
  • Seeing others as worse off if they are not doing as much work
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Feeling overwhelmed and stressed
  • Problems sleeping

As with any behavioural addiction, work-related obsessive and compulsive processes can turn into physiological problems. If you are already suffering from headaches or eye problems due to long hours at the computer, then you are already preferring work to your health. And this is one of the signs of behavioural addiction.

What Is a Workaholic?

‘Workaholic’ is not a formal term, but is a popular term which many of us would use in our everyday speech. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as ‘a person who works a lot of the time and finds it difficult not to work’. In other words, this is the informal equivalent of ‘a person suffering from an addiction to work’.

Workaholism is caused by a compulsion, an uncontrollable need to work. It is more of an emotional addiction than a physical one, and it can be caused by a person’s need to feel wanted or valuable, or the anxiety of having too much free time on their hands.

Perfectionism is also quoted as a sure trigger and cause for an unhealthy relationship with work, but we do not believe that everyone who strives for perfection is obsessed with their work. Many creative minds have been positively led by their perfectionism, and we can only applaud them for it. However, if your struggles for perfectionism overpower your strive for good health or cause harm to those around you, then it may be time to consider therapy.

How Does CATCH Recovery Help with Work Addiction?

CATCH Recovery London offers an innovative programme designed to help those struggling with excessive work addiction. Our comprehensive approach to treating and managing the underlying causes of workaholism, such as anxiety, depression, and perfectionism combines individual counselling sessions with group therapy and peer support meetings, as well as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to identify thought patterns and behaviours associated with workaholism.

We also offer alternative therapies such as yoga, art therapy, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and meditation to help manage stress levels and promote healthy coping mechanisms. For additional support, our team of addiction specialists provide relapse prevention strategies to maintain long-term recovery success.

Our ultimate goal is to help you and your loved ones recognise an unhealthy relationship with being employed or performing tasks and to develop the skills needed to create a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.

The Benefits of Starting Therapy for Work Addiction

The benefits of seeking treatment for work addiction are numerous. Not only is it possible to regain control of your life and find a healthier balance between work and leisure, but it can also lead to increased productivity, better decision-making, improved relationships with colleagues and family members, decreased stress levels, and enhanced quality of life.

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In addition to the above-mentioned, seeking treatment can also help to:

  • Improve physical health by reducing anxiety and stress and improving sleep quality
  • Help build better communication and interpersonal skills
  • Build a sense of identity outside of work that is rooted in interests and passions, not just accomplishments at the office
  • Increase self-awareness to recognise triggers for unhealthy behaviour, such as perfectionism or fear of

The road to a healthy, balanced life starts with seeking help for work addiction. Whether you’re struggling with an unhealthy relationship to work or want to improve your relationships outside of it, CATCH Recovery London is here to provide the guidance and support you need. With our comprehensive approach that combines individual counselling, group therapy, CBT, and alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation, we can help you overcome these processes and regain control over your time and reach a new stage of emotional well-being. The road to a healthy, balanced life starts with seeking help for work addiction.

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