Save to Pocket

The signs and symptoms you may be a workaholic, and how to break the habit

We all take pride in our work, but some people find it difficult to draw a line between their professional and personal lives. If you habitually stay late at the office, always keep one eye your emails and struggle to switch off at night, there’s a high possibility you could be a workaholic.

While it might be the most socially acceptable form of addiction, workaholism is still a terrible habit to fall into, and can have extremely negative effects on your physical health and mental wellbeing. In a recent survey carried out by UK call-handling specialists CALLCARE, 64% of respondents felt that their salary wasn’t high enough to match the stress of their job.

With experts claiming that one in four employed people show workaholic traits, it’s important we recognise addictive behaviour and the impact it can have on our lives.

The signs and symptoms

There are some very obvious signs and symptoms of workaholism, but others aren’t as easy to detect.

Obvious signs

– Chronic fatigue

– Frequent headaches

– Impatience and irritability

– Chest pains and shortness of breath

– Reliance on caffeine and other stimulants

– Self-neglect

Hidden signs

– Depressive thoughts

– Memory loss due to exhaustion

– Increased adrenaline and blood pressure

– Feelings of self-inadequacy

– Lack of appetite and poor digestion

Working hard, or hardly working?

Studies have shown that working long hours is not conducive to productivity. Stress can have extremely negative effects on our ability to work effectively.

Time Management

A busy brain will find it more difficult to organise and prioritise.


Stress affects our ability to retain information, making us forgetful.


You’re more prone to becoming distracted when you’re exhausted and on-edge.


Stressed out workers fall ill often, making them more likely to take time off work.

How to break the habit

1. Give your brain a break! The ideal work-to-break ratio is 52 minutes of work to 17 minutes of break.

2. Don’t eat lunch at your desk. Taking a proper lunch break will reset your mind and can help keep obesity at bay.

3. Stay away from your phone. Switching off emails and calls when you’re not at work allows you to properly relax, reducing stress.

4. Go on holiday. Studies show that workers who don’t use their holidays are less productive and have poorer performance.

5. Decide on a strategy. Write down a list of steps you can take to improve your work/life balance (e.g. I will only work 5 out of 7 days)

6. Seek help. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may see the best results with help from a doctor or support group.

Perfecting the work/life balance

Workaholism is a serious addiction and can be linked to a number of major health complaints. If you recognize some of the signs and symptoms mentioned here, it might be time to reassess your work/life balance.

This column was originally published on 

More from Ladders