Are You Working
Too Much?

Are You Working Too Much?

The hidden link between workaholism and mental health


We’re seeing a huge shift in how we work lately. From remote and hybrid work to the possibility of four-day workweeks, it seems like a lot of us have swapped the “hustle and grind” culture for a more sustainable work-life balance. But do we even know what that looks like?

According to Psychology Today, the concept “workaholism” has vanished from most discussions today, but not because we have a handle on it. Rather, because working too much is now a completely normalized condition rather than a pathology.

The concept of workaholism was first coined in the 1970s. Author and professor W. E. Oates described it as “the compulsive and uncontrollable need to work incessantly.” And he defined a workaholic as anyone who spends more than 50 hours a week working. (Sound familiar?) But there's a difference between needing to work longer hours and “an excessive need to work” that interferes with our bodily health, personal happiness, and interpersonal relations.

That's when it kicks over into an addiction. And according to The Atlantic, researchers today find that workaholism is a common addiction in response to people's personal distress. But like so many addictions, it actually worsens the situation it's meant to alleviate.

Working all the time is also rooted in a fear of being alone with ourselves and our thoughts and feelings. Many of us find it increasingly hard just to be rather than constantly to do. It is a catch-22 situation: The more we work, the less rich our non-work life will become. When we finally do pause, we might find that our lives have become quite empty—that they lack nourishing relationships, joy, warmth and fun. If you can relate, you might want to talk with a therapist ... or your boss.

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