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When you think about a “workaholic”, what typically comes to your mind? For those of us in recovery, we often find ourselves trading one addiction for another, in this case, overworking ourselves. In most cases, people instantly believe that working long hours is a good thing and doesn’t indicate an addiction to work.

While the majority of people may see it that way, nervous breakdowns, panic attacks, and burnout are all realities for people that are constantly focused on their work efforts. Even though there are advantages, most people who are engaging with work addiction would prefer to find balance.

If you show any of these 4 symptoms, you might be addicted to work and competition in an unhealthy way.

    1. Devoting yourself to work to escape unpleasant emotions – This is probably one of the most damaging types of addictions when it comes to working. Maybe a family member or friend died, you had a bad breakup, and suddenly you cannot stop working. By pushing through into work without taking a moment to reflect on those uncomfortable emotions, it forces them to come out in weird ways in other areas of your life.
    2. Being unable to work causes stress – Addiction can strike in many ways and while it is not often discussed, feeling the need to get back to work can be an issue for some people as well. Whether you are on vacation or there are technical problems causing you some delay, be mindful of how you react to stress caused by your inability to work. If it is for a big deadline, that is one thing, but if it is simply so you can “work” you might want to take a closer look at that.
    3. Friends and family tell you to cut back – Your friends and family that spend time with you are aware of what is going on. Usually, they are a lot more in-tune than you think so it is a good idea to listen when you get the chance. If they are telling you something, it’s because they can see the anxious energy and feelings even without you verbalizing it.
    4. Work habits are destroying your health – Most people, at some point in their lives, have had healthy periods where they exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. When work becomes a major part of your life, suddenly it can take over and damage these habits. If this is something you are struggling with, which most people do right after college, you should take a closer look at your work habits.

In dealing with addiction of any kind, awareness and acceptance is the first step. While society may not judge you as a failure to be addicted to work, only you can tell whether it is negatively impacting your life and could cause further problems in the future.

After a reasonable assessment of the addiction, you can find help or put systems in place that curb your work hours and reclaim your life.

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