Workaholism: An Accepted Addiction?


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In a society that is adamant in making sure that an idle mind does not give way to a devil’s workshop, being engaged in work is everyone’s top priority. Whether this work is paid or unpaid, everyone somehow keeps themselves busy from 9am – 5pm which seems the unanimously decided time to be productive and occupied with work.

You could be a homemaker, cooking three meals a day for your family, a fresher at an IT company or even a writer, always looking for new plot lines to work with. But if you suddenly realise (or someone points out) that there is no room for you to indulge in your hobbies (or you have none), spend time with friends and family or you are constantly taking up extra jobs – then maybe you are addicted to your work.

Workaholism is a compulsive behaviour (related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) that can be seen in any sphere, whether in the life of a Medical intern or even your 80-year-old grandmother who is constantly on her feet, doing some work. Diligence is ingrained in our culture and hence people often presume that an addict is merely a dedicated worker.


Addiction to work causes several strains on relationships, both personal and professional. Workaholics spend little to almost no time with their family and friends and often take up extra work to avoid the constant nagging they might experience about not being around more. Workaholics also constantly micromanage – They are not able to successfully delegate work to others as they are under the presumption that they can do it better, themselves.

These addicts also suffer from trust issues, where they do not believe that others can be as driven as they are and hence, will not understand their desire to work. The irony, unfortunately, is that the work that they are fixated on producing is often unsatisfactory, causing them to lose their positions and jobs.

Studies show that children with workaholic parents are often vulnerable to disorders such as depression and anxiety, due to the neglect they might feel when their parent is constantly unavailable.

Some health issues that inevitably spring up with this addiction to work are that of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (like chronic hypertension), constant fatigue and digestive disorders (if not eating or sleeping well). There is a high risk of death as well –  As seen in several cases in Japan, where they call this death caused from overwork “Karoshi“.

When this desire to work becomes an itching need, an immediate intervention is necessary. It might be difficult to understand workaholism and even harder to conquer, as it is often not seen as a proper addiction. But there are several ways to overcome this dependency and admitting is the first step towards recovery.

–    Take it slow – Weaning yourself off the need to work might be a slow process but it gives incredible benefits. You can start with cutting out one thing every week and progress from there.

–    Building boundaries – Create a distinctive boundary between your personal and professional lives and try to ensure that nothing from your work life seeps into the personal sphere (and vice versa).

–    Calm your mind – Initially, it might be difficult for you to wind down and relax as you are used to high stress activities. Do not be disheartened. Engage in activities that can teach you to reach a calm state of mind, like meditation and relaxation exercises.

–    Set a time/physical limit for work – Limit your work to a set time that is required by an office or do so yourself. Try not to think about work after you’ve reached that limit and also try not to talk about as much as you do at the moment. (We know you’re explaining that complicated merger at work to your pet dog. It will listen, but maybe just give it a nice belly rub instead?)

–    Work on establishing stronger relationships within personal realm – One of the most important things that you may have been avoiding in your pursuit of work is your family and friends. Work on building those relationships and making them stronger. They may be reluctant at first, but they are always there to support you and are willing to mend any broken fences.

–    Non-cancellable recreational activities – Make plans with your friends and family and do not leave any room for postponing or calling them off. You deserve to spend that time off work with the people you love.

–    Maintain a healthy lifestyle – Eat healthy and sleep a minimum of 7-8 hours a day. A healthy body revives the mind. Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking or abusing other drugs as this is highly detrimental and may lead to further addictions.

–    Find new ways to De – Stress – Increase the number of hobbies you have from zero to one or two. Take a crafts class, read, learn a new dance form, maybe even a new language.

–    Spend some quality time with yourself – Although you have spending quite a lot of time by yourself while working, try to slowly spend that time WITH yourself. Self discovery and mindful thinking can go a long way.

–    Do not get swayed by your presumptions – You may think that by constantly working, you are keeping the boss happy or the sentence “Successful people work long hours” has become your life’s motto. These are just harmful beliefs. Your boss will be happier if you are producing quality work, regardless of the number of hours you put into creating it. Try living by a new motto – Quality over Quantity.

–    Delegate your work – There is no denying that you are equipped to handle any work-related situation, but give others the chance to develop those skills as well. Delegate you work and focus particularly on what you have been assigned. There is place for more than one superhero in the office.

Seeking help is a courageous thing to do and in no way makes you a coward. If you do feel like you need help overcoming any addictions you may have, our professionals are out there to help you through it. Do reach out to us if you need any information about addiction and mental health.

Contributed by: Ms.Namrata Ramaprasad