By Sharon Hwang M.A., Special for USADT.
The terms workaholism and workaholic were coined by Wayne Oats in the first book on the subject, Confessions of a Workaholic. He describes workaholism as a compulsive and addictive behavior with work in the same way alcoholics do with alcohol. Workaholism can have a negative effect on ones life on many levels, personal, social, and health. Do you have a hard time relaxing? Do you think taking vacations are waste of time? Do you find that you are constantly making the excuse that you have too much work? If so you may be a workaholic. click here to take a test to determine if you are a workaholic.
One of the main causes of stress and acute adrenal failure among Americans is this addiction we have to work and busyness. In our modern day society, over work has become a badge of honor for many of us. The busier you are, the more important you are. We see nothing wrong with working a 12-16 hour work day. American culture deems overwork as normal and acceptable. In a Gallup poll done in October of 2004, 38% of Americans said that they work more than 45 hours every week.
There is a difference between working hard and workaholism?
Hard work is what built America and allows us to innovate and stay above the curve. Workaholism, creates instability, is one of the causes of stress, and stunts creativity. The biggest indicator of a workaholic is someone who constantly chooses work over family, social engagements, time off, and play. When you feel you cannot stop working you most likely have an addiction to work.
For many work is a source of stability, self-worth, and protection against the uncertainties of life and human relationships. Achieving life balance is perhaps one of the biggest challenges facing us in the twenty first century. Trying to keep up with technology and our neighbors have caused millions of Americans to over work in their jobs. Americans are using their jobs as an anesthetic to relieve emotional pain, deny their worries, build their self esteem, distract themselves and escape from feeling and experiencing life.
Some experts believe that work addiction is perpetuated by the need for a constant adrenalin rush, which can cause acute adrenal failure. Which is similar to being in a state of flight of fight mode where adrenalin pumps up the supply of oxygen and glucose in the brain, increasing the heart rate. Over time, adrenaline and constant stress hormones in the body can lead to acute adrenal failure.
So what can you do if you are a workaholic?
First, admit that you have a problem. Until you become aware of your addictive behavior and tendencies, they will remain in the sub conscious. With awareness you can start making changes. For example, a person that is addicted to sugar, may constantly eat sugar and have no idea they are doing it because it is so habitual.
Second, start writing. When you find that you are having a hard time leaving work at home, write about your experience in the moment. Ask yourself, why am I feeling this way? What is really that urgent? What am I trying to avoid? Start thinking about what work means to you? Writing will also help you bring greater awareness. Map out for a week your daily schedule, how many hours you work, sleep, rest, play, socialize etc.
Third, start scheduling down time into your day and stick to it. I know this is going to be difficult. But put in your schedule an hour walk outside, or sitting in a coffee shop with a cup of tea and a non work related book. Much like starting a new fitness program, you may only be able to sit still for 10 minutes. If you stick to it the times will get longer and easier. If you find yourself thinking about work or getting angry, write about your emotions and why you are feeling this way.
Fourth, create a support system. Schedule social activities and share with your close friends and family that you are trying to cut back on thinking about and doing work all the time. Join a workaholics anonymous group.
Fifth, seek professional help. If you are struggling, look for a therapist or life coach that can help and guide you through finding better balance.
Remember start where you are at. Change is a journey not a destination. It will take time and commitment to change your deeply ingrained habits. With it you will change your life.
Sharon Hwang M.A., is the owner of The Wellness Center, located inside Whole Foods in Colorado, http://www.wellnessdenver.com She is a pioneer in the health and wellness industry and has been working in the industry for over 10 years. She has a Masters in Counseling, and has a passion for helping people live better, happier lives. She is working on her newest website [http://www.adrenal-failure.com] a website devoted to helping people manage their stress levels. She is a professional public speaker, entrepreneur, and wellness coach. She currently lives in Denver.