Stress And Workaholism – How To Recognize It

By: Robert William Locke

I used to be a workaholic but then I saw the light when my health started to suffer and I got out in time ! My ex boss was and still is a workaholic – he is still alive -only just -and his wife does not see much of him! I now work three days a week and am not exactly rich but I enjoy a stress free existence.

Workaholism is like any addiction which is a human weakness. It is also an illness. The term workaholism should not be confused with hard work which is very strong in the Protestant ethos . Leisure is idleness, toil is good and workaholism is the best ! When do you have to start worrying if you are a workaholic? It is when work becomes an obsession and the main, or only, driving force in your life ! It is rather like a fatal progressive disease and like any other addiction it gets a stronger and stronger hold.

I had another boss who preached the usual ‘home work life balance’. Not only was his approach gentle and kind like when he would say ‘Shouldn’t you be going home now ??’ if we were working too long hours. But he also recommended and practised finding time for his human relationships and that meant finding and dedicating time for partners, loved ones and offspring.

How many companies do you know that have a workplace stress policy and actually put it into practice? Very few, I suspect and the sad fact is that workaholism is rewarded in companies and promotion is often the result. The problem for the company though, is that workaholism is an infectious disease and highly contagious. The management chain will demand more and more than is reasonable and productivity will suffer.

Faster promotion and high salaries are the carrots held out to the workaholic who needs to keep his adrenaline rush going and this is part of the addiction. Workaholics were surveyed recently and 38% claimed they were on $100,000 plus annually. Only 22% of people on lower salaries claimed they were stressed out or workaholics. The workaholic though has problems with his colleagues and is usually very poor at delegating work.

Look at the medical check up for a workaholic. Not only will they most likely have ulcers, anxiety attacks and depression which may lead to suicide but they will also suffer from burnout and a range of stress disorders. The problem is that workaholics are dependant on the adrenaline which they need in greater and greater doses. Often they are taken out by a heart attack, a stroke or some other really serious illness.

The fall out on workaholics’ families is considerable. Those who are married to workaholics have higher divorce rates, greater rates of marital estrangement, fewer positive feelings about their marriage and feel less in control of their lives. Of course, the families of workaholics may gain by sharing in their consequently higher incomes but I begin to wonder if this is really a blessing.

Does all this sound familiar to you ? Maybe your stress is caused by workaholism or maybe you are being stressed out by a workaholic boss. It really is time to take this in hand before it takes you out and members of your family will take the brunt as well.

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