December 15, 2015 was a saddening day for 24-year-old Mita Duran’s family, friends and co-workers. She died after “30 hours of working” as a copywriter in Young and Rubicam Indonesia. Most of her tweets are about her work including having not enough sleep from and going to work and her pending workloads. She kept herself awake by drinking Thai Red Bull. Some blamed the energy drink. Some blamed the company she is working for. Some blamed Mita for working herself to death.
When I read her story online, I did not have the time to point fingers for who is to blame. All I can think of is her being a workaholic. I can tell she was really passionate of her work. But was it all worth it?
Dr. Barbara KIllinger, the author of the best-selling book entitled Workaholics: The Respectable Addicts, defined workaholics as “work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success.” People interchangeably use workaholic as a hard worker and vice versa. But hard worker has emotional presence in balancing their work with their personal life. Normally, we tend to overwork to meet deadlines followed by well-spent weekends. But for workaholics, it is all about work. Work. Work. All a whole lot of work!
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The following are the characteristics of a workaholic from the workaholic scale identified by Norwegian researchers from the Department of Psychosocial Science:
- You think of how you can free up more time to work.
- You spend much more time working than initially intended.
- You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, and/or depression.
- You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
- You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
- You deprioritize hobbies, leisure activities and/or exercise because of work.
- You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.
There are certain personality traits workaholics have in common.
- Neuroticism – They are nervous, hostile and impulsive.
- Agreeableness – They are altruistic, compliant and modest.
- High intellect or imagination – they are inventive and action-oriented
Other study shows that 10% of the average population in other countries (aside from Norway) are workaholics. Most of them are young adults and unmarried.
Self-help group known as Workaholic Anonymous may give support to workaholics alike. There is no particular treatment yet to workaholism unlike alcoholism because it is not recognized as an addiction by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. The aftermath of being workaholic is detrimental to one’s physical, mental and social health. Prolong workaholism may lead to depression and loss of social life.
Tips for Workaholics:
- Develop self-awareness of any of any tendencies mentioned above
- Practice disengagement from work by monitoring the time you are putting into work
- Take notice when your work life is creating problems in your personal life to set work-life balance
- Taking regular vacations with family and friends
Work is an essential part of our lives. It is a source of our productivity and personal growth and rewards us financially. It should not turn you into a self-destructive workaholic to impress your boss or yourself either. Be aware of these signs before it is too late.