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Workaholism: The Hidden Dangers

January 1st, 2024

As we usher in a new year, many people commit to ditching harmful behaviors, often focusing on cutting down alcohol, quitting smoking, avoiding sugary treats, or limiting social media usage. However, how many of us consider reducing our workload? Workaholism, or excessive working may not be recognized as a genuine “addiction” by psychology experts, but in certain cases, its detrimental effects can be comparable to other well-known harmful habits we repeatedly attempt to control, according to recent research.

According to Serrano-Fernández et al., workaholics & workaholism are defined as individuals who dedicate an excessive amount of their time to work, causing unfavorable impacts on their social life, familial relationships, and leisure activities. These individuals typically set extraordinarily high goals at work that surpass their job requirements and devote an unnecessary amount of energy to work, leading to an occupational fixation even outside of working hours.

The Reserach Reveals

That such unhealthy work habits eventually lead to an energy drain even for those who enjoy their work. As an outcome, workaholics are frequently reported to exhibit lower levels of energy, happiness, and engagement, coupled with heightened levels of anxiety, depression, and fatigue.

To explain how workaholism triggers feelings of depression and anxiety, the researchers highlight that when individuals perceive their personal traits and work conditions as threatening and overwhelming, they tend to put in extra time and effort to complete their tasks. This overwork can serve as an escape mechanism tied to anxiety and depression. They further explain that anxious individuals, in their fear of failure, tend to continuously review their work output or refuse new tasks to prevent overload, while depressed individuals work at a slower pace due to decreased energy levels and end up needing more hours to complete their assignments.

Feeling fatigued after a long, unpleasant workday may seem like a natural consequence but it can also be a reflection of what Serrano-Fernández et al. state: employees, especially in companies with standard working hours, may feel pressured to accomplish targets as quickly as possible, often resulting in extra working hours beyond what is legally required.

Achieving Work-Life Harmony

Nevertheless, the studies show a silver lining: employees who put in long hours but are content with their work are less prone to adverse outcomes related to work stress, including burnout and ill health. So, rather than living to work, the majority of us work for a better life, thus achieving a work-life harmony rather than a ‘balance,’ which might suggest an impending risk of losing control.

Creating boundaries and managing work expectations can be realized effectively using tools like a daily planner, a calendar, or any other means to safeguard personal time consciously. Revel in your earnings, but also remember to set aside time to relish the rewards of your hard work with family, friends, your faith community, and indulging in your favorite activities.

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