Lazy birthday to all busy people!

In our time and age we are constantly running. The media is telling us not to waste our time. “Time is money”, did you ever hear that phrase?  I did, and I still do. Be careful, it is not far from being engaged at work to being addicted.

That’s why on 21st of July we are celebrating International Day of workaholics!

What is workaholism?

Employees involved in their work are very highly valued on the labor market. In our first weeks with a new company, we try to present ourselves in the best way, to give as much as possible. Of course, that is not a bad thing. Everything is fine until we start taking our work home.

At the moment when you let professional duties affect your private life, an alarm bell should ring in your head. Stop, a tired employee will never be a good employee. There is a huge difference between a good worker and a workaholic.

Psychologist say*:

Workaholism is a pathological involvement in professional activity. Very often, workaholism is related to the fact that the person neglects other life activities, regardless of family, friends or other duties.

*Marlena Stradomska an employee of the Institute of Psychology, UMCS, vice-president of the Polish Suicidal Society, Lublin Branch, manager of the socio-therapeutic facility Society “Nowa Kuźnia”

Why do people become workaholics?

I guess the first thing that came to your mind is money, but that is not really true. Addiction to workaholism is a complex process that can have its causes in many areas of our lives. There is no unequivocal answer to this question, because every person is an individual being.  Sometimes it is willingness to appreciate, an escape or too much pressure from superiors.

Psychologists say:

Often work gives a lot of satisfaction, which in other areas of life was inadequate. At work, a person can be appreciated, can have a sense of agency that affects many important things. Unfortunately, at some point, the person becomes a slave to her/his work and the necessities of doing something beyond their strength and energy. The initial motivation may be the financial benefits of working more. However, workaholics do not get much pleasure from spending money or do not have time for it. A workaholic cannot live without a job. It becomes an integral part of her/his life.

Signs that you are a workaholic:

This term is quite overused and worn off, so the disease is often not taken seriously. A healthy work commitment is healthy. A sick work commitment is sick. But how do we know that we are crossing the limits that we should calm down? Usually, we get the first signals from people close to us, as delicate hints that we do not have as much time for them as we used to. We are constantly setting higher bars, the only topic of our conversations is work, during free time we are going back to the office with our thoughts. Our world is narrowing down to one place.

Psychologists say:

Symptoms of workaholism can be similar to this:

  • no time for life activities (other than work)
  • tiredness
  • changes in appearance
  • difficulties concentrating
  • stress, the emergence of psychosomatic diseases
  • decline in mental wellbeing
  • forgetting about basic activities outside of work, for example when a workaholic has a family
  • the emergence of mental difficulties,
  • the feeling that you cannot function without a job
  • the main topic is mainly work and many others

Addiction is addiction. Results of illness:

Although workaholism is not a n addiction to a substance, it nonetheless destroys the human being in the mental, physical and social spheres.

We can distinguish three phases of workaholism:

  1. Preliminary: constant thinking about work, lack of time for personal life, deterioration of relationships with loved ones, lack of understanding, perception of people, physical and mental symptoms: fears, headaches, stomach problems.
  2. Critical: severity of mental and physical symptoms: insomnia, concentration, malaise, despite the finish of the body, continuous work, problem with group work and aggression.
  3. Chronic addiction: mental and physical exhaustion, family problems, divorce, disturbed day-night-rhythm, psychosomatic diseases, heart attacks, depression, anxiety disorders.

Psychologists say:

Workaholism is one of the addictions of the 21st century. It is associated with behavioral addiction, which is dependent on human behavior. Work can give a lot of satisfaction, a person can feel important, valuable and needed. Thanks to the work, many people increase their self-esteem and sense of agency.

She/He is able to react in difficult situations, she/he feels that she/he has an influence on the surrounding reality. It is often the case that they may not feel appreciated in other areas of life. If there is no family and the only escape from loneliness may be just dedication to work and other professional activities. At the same time, workaholics lose their common-sense thinking they implement the plan, doing new projects and tasks, regardless of their own needs. But at some point the body simply refuses to obey and there are difficulties of mental or physical nature.

How to help?

Depending on the addiction phase, different treatment methods are used, which should be consulted with a psychologist or psychiatrist. It’s best to start working on yourself as soon as you notice the first signs of the disease. In the process of recovering from addiction, it gives a lot of support to relatives, but also to superiors, it is worth talking openly with the boss. A workaholic is a less-efficient employee. John Boyd has developed OODA loops, a guide for employers, helping to gather information about people who are workaholics in the company and to help them. It consists of four stages:

O – Observation – getting information and getting acquainted with the situation

O – Orientation – analysis of the information obtained

D – Decision – development of a response plan for the situation

A – Action – undertaking planned activities, implementing the prepared plan into force

Psychologists say:

Prevention of workaholism is very difficult and long-lasting. Changing attitudes and behaviors is complicated. In particular when people do not have any alternatives to their work.

Ways of preventing workaholism:

  • developing a passion besides work
  • making dreams come true
  • planning
  • engaging in social activities
  • doing sports
  • balancing work and other activities
  • having a family
  • meeting a friend
  • participating in psychological workshops
  • participation in scientific conferences
  • the use of alternatives that will allow you to relax, for example, yoga, leisure trips etc.
  • not taking work home.


Dorota Łyczak



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