Many people spend long hours at work hoping to increase their income and enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle. However, "too much of anything is not good for anyone"; too much work can affect your health and social relationships, not to mention the persistent feeling of exhaustion and fatigue. Even though the term "workaholism (work addiction)" has been known for more than 45 years, the contemporary fast-going lifestyle and modern technology have contributed a lot to the widespread of this phenomenon lately. How can we find out if we are addicted to work, and how can we get rid of this addiction to live a normal life devoid of any psychological issues?

There is no specific medical definition of work addiction, but we can say that it starts when work consumes all one's energy and absorbs one's time to the extent that he/she does not have time to do any other activity, in addition to constantly feeling stressed and continuously thinking about work problems, even after the end of the working hours. According to a study conducted by the Department of Psychological and Social Sciences at the University of Bergen, in Norway, work addiction is widely spread among young people nowadays due to their persistent concern about the future and their desire to secure a decent life.

Among the symptoms of work addiction is the constant desire to accomplish more work to achieve better income and spending much time at work without prior intention to do so. Symptoms also include the constant feeling of stress during and after working hours, as well as the inability to enjoy holidays and free time if there is no work.  Moreover, work addiction affects health negatively as a result of restlessness.

Despite the negative connotation of the term "addiction" in general, some believe that work addiction aspires to increase productivity and work development, but this is not true. A study performed on people who work more than 50 hours per week proved that they are most at risk of dying due to work addiction. As opposed to expectations, another study performed in the University of Georgia, USA, proved that workaholics are the least productive even if they first appear to be the most enthusiastic and motivated people at work, unlike their colleagues who accomplish their work quickly and accurately at the same time.

Furthermore, workaholics can suffer psychological and neurological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and selfishness. It may also lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder; a mental disorder that makes people imagine thoughts and fears that do not exist in reality. Workaholics tend to be bossy; they are not capable of sharing their acquired skills and experiences with their coworkers, which negatively affects the work institution on the long run. Workaholics also suffer from family instability, as well as weight gain due to sitting in front of electronic devices for long periods of time. They can also suffer from high blood pressure, persistent headache, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach ulcers, tiredness, physical and mental exhaustion, and sleep disorders.

One of the tips you can follow to get rid of work addiction is to ask for help from the people around you, and to go on long vacations away from work. You can also relax through yoga sessions and exercise, to get rid of the muscle strain caused by incorrect sitting positions during working hours; also dedicate time to be with your family or to meet friends.

*Published in SCIplanet Printed Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue

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