Breaking the Chains: How to Overcome Work Addiction

It is not unusual for workaholics to work nonstop throughout the day without taking a break. They seem to care only about their work. When they return home, they are exhausted and crash right away. Consequently, one does not have time to spend with family, friends, exercise, sleep, etc., further contributing to the problem.

The effects of working long hours without adequate rest can lead to burnout. It causes you to feel tired, depressed, angry, stressed and may cause other mental health problems. This behavioral addiction also reduces your productivity and increases the likelihood that you will make mistakes, which may negatively affect your workplace. As a result, you work harder to correct those mistakes. This may result in you falling into a vicious circle that is extremely difficult to break out of.

Please keep reading if you feel that you are suffering from work addiction or if you have questions. This article will share recommended steps for recovering from work addiction.

What are the signs of work addiction?

Identifying the signs of work addiction is the first step toward recovering from this disorder. These symptoms indicate a dysfunctional relationship between the employee and their work.

  • In their professional capacity, there is always something they would like to improve.
  • Fear of failure.
  • It makes them feel guilty about spending time with their family and friends.
  • Lack of work causes them to be anxious or stressed.
  • There is never a moment when they are not thinking about work.
  • They cannot relax or enjoy themselves if they don’t work.
  • Taking a day off without feeling guilty or ashamed can be difficult for them.
  • There is little time for their own well-being, families, or friends, and their social life is severely restricted.
  • It irritates or angers them to discuss their workaholic tendencies.
  • It is no longer enjoyable for them to participate in the activities that they once enjoyed.
  • Their claim of how many hours they work per week is false.
  • In order to cope with stress, they may turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs.

Why are work-related stress and addiction increasing?


The increasing demands and competitiveness of the workplace are causing employees in today’s society to be increasingly stressed despite working fewer hours. They are being forced to accomplish more with fewer resources, resulting in stress and anxiety due to constant pressure to achieve their highest potential.

It has become increasingly difficult for businesses to survive in the current economic environment. They are reducing staff levels and working hours wherever feasible to cut costs. This has resulted in employees who remain employed having to work harder hours to meet the demands of the business environment.

Technology has also significantly changed the way we work. We are constantly connected to the workplace through email, social media, and smartphones, which allows us to be contacted at any time of the day.

What can you do if you are addicted to work?

1. Identify your motivation for becoming an overachiever

Identify your motivation for becoming an overachiever

In order to change any problematic habit, you must first understand why those habits were formed.

The key to overcoming work addiction is to understand the circumstances that led you to become addicted to work in the first place.

When you graduated college, did you immediately begin working 60-plus hours weekly? Did you enter a job after graduation without taking time off to pursue your interests? Were you laid off from your previous job and had no choice but to accept another position?

While many factors can inspire individuals to achieve their objectives, overachievers tend to be motivated by fear. The fear that they might fail, let others down or fear that they will appear incompetent or weak.

Understanding the root cause behind your work addiction will help you determine whether or not you really want to quit.

2. Establish clear goals and priorities


In the absence of goals and priorities at work, it is like walking in the dark. If you do not have goals, it is like wandering aimlessly all over the place. Goals are like lights in the darkness.

Priorities and goals are crucial to any job because they help you stay focused on what you need to accomplish. They also provide direction and motivation, which help you avoid procrastination and burnout.

Setting goals and priorities requires consideration of three factors:

  • What do you need to accomplish?
  • Who does it affect?
  • How long will it take?

As part of your goal list, it is important to include all the tasks you need to accomplish to achieve your objectives. You should ensure that your priority list only includes tasks that are essential to achieving your objectives.

After you have created your lists, prioritize them according to their importance. Your top priority items should be completed first, followed by the next highest priority items, and so forth. Prioritization allows you to remain focused on what is important rather than getting distracted by unimportant tasks.

The final step is to review your daily progress and adjust your priorities and goals in accordance with your progress.

Setting unrealistic goals is pointless. Your primary objective should be to impress yourself, not others.

Your goals and priorities may need to be reevaluated if you cannot achieve everything during a particular period.

With this technique, you will be able to accomplish complex tasks in a more efficient and timely manner. This, in turn, will allow you more time to spend with yourself.

3. Find out what your weaknesses are

Once you have identified the root cause of your work addiction, you should identify your weaknesses.

In what ways do you lag behind in your work? Do you procrastinate? Do you have difficulty completing projects? Do you have difficulty managing your time? Are you involved in activities that are not related to your work?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you identify your weaknesses:

  • What am I good at? What am I bad at?
  • In what areas do I already possess skills? In what areas do I lack skills?
  • What areas of my personal life would benefit most from improvement?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can pinpoint your weaknesses. Then you can work toward improving them. For instance, if you tend to procrastinate, you should set the goals and priorities that we mentioned before.

4. Put an emphasis on the positives

In a recent study, it was discovered that happy people are 20% more productive. This significantly increases productivity and has a major impact on work performance. Also, the study shows that creating a positive work environment significantly impacts productivity levels.

It is difficult to remain positive at work when you work with others, but there are ways to maintain a positive attitude in spite of difficulties. You can stay positive at work even when things are not going well.

You may be tempted to dwell on the negatives when you feel down, but you should instead focus on the positives. Consider the progress you have made rather than being discouraged by setbacks.

  • Practice gratitude. You should practice being grateful if you tend to complain about everything. Write down three things you’re grateful for each morning. Then post them somewhere visible where you’ll see them throughout the day.
  • Look forward. Instead of dwelling on the past, look ahead. Imagine what you’d like to accomplish in the future. This helps you avoid getting stuck in the negative cycle of rumination.
  • Take action. Don’t wait until you’re ready to act. Today is the day to take action toward your goals. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll reach your destination.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.

5. Reward Yourself

For completing small tasks, reward yourself. Rewards can range from simple pleasures like watching television, reading books, or spending time with family to more substantial rewards, such as clothing, dining out, or travel. A small reward will help you stay motivated, whereas a larger reward will assist you in reaching your long-term goals.

6. Make changes in your work habit slowly

In this study, nearly 46% of participants credited good habits for their career success.

Even small changes can have a significant impact over time. Small changes can profoundly affect a month, a week, or even a day.

You can improve your productivity both at home and at work by following these suggestions:

  • Make a daily plan by spending a few minutes in the morning.
  • Take 5 minutes each night to review my schedule for the next day.
  • Make a habit of taking 10 minutes after lunch to relax and unwind.
  • Use a calendar app on your phone to remind you when certain events occur. This saves you from having to remember things on your own.
  • Organize your environment.

7. Make sure you exercise regularly

Physical activity is important for maintaining our physical health as well as improving our mental health.

In response to physical activity, our brains release endorphins, chemicals that make us feel relaxed, calm, focused, energized, and happy.

Our brain also releases serotonin when we exercise, making us happier and calmer.

Serotonin is released during exercise because it gives us a sense of accomplishment. We accomplish things when we exercise, whether running a marathon or going to the gym. And achieving goals feels great!

And when we exercise, we become better at accomplishing tasks. Studies show that people who exercise regularly perform better than those who don’t. They’re able to complete complex tasks faster and more accurately.

We’ve known for years that exercise increases productivity. Now science shows that exercise changes our brains, making them more efficient and improving our ability to concentrate.

8. Getting enough sleep is important

According to a survey of working adults, about 33% reported sleeping six hours or fewer each night.

Sleep deprivation reduces productivity at work and home, as well as creating a feeling of irritability, fatigue, and distraction.

However, most of us do not get enough sleep despite its importance. Sleeping 7 to 9 hours at night is recommended for most people, but many of us do not reach this level.

We often find ourselves unable to achieve sufficient sleep for several reasons. One reason is simply that we’ve become accustomed to living in a 24/7 society. Our lives revolve around technology, and we rarely take advantage of the opportunity to shut off our phones, computers, tablets, etc., and go to bed early.

Another reason is that we spend too much time working late into the evening. Many of us stay awake until midnight or later and then try to catch up on sleep the next day. In the end, the exhaustion leaves us unable to function normally.

Getting insufficient sleep affects the quality of our performance at work and at home. We are more likely to make mistakes, become irritable, and lose concentration. We are also more likely to experience physical symptoms, such as headaches, backaches, muscle aches, and fatigue.

As a result, it is essential that you get at least seven hours of deep sleep every night.

9. Join a support group

It is beneficial to participate in a support group so that you can communicate your concerns and feelings openly with others who understand what you are going through. As a result, you will gain valuable insights that will facilitate your ability to cope with stress and anxiety more effectively.

Some support groups are limited to members of certain professions, such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc., whereas others are open to anyone.

The benefits of attending a support group include:

  • Anxiety and stress management.
  • Establishing healthy habits.
  • Finding ways to relax.
  • Finding effective ways to deal with procrastination.
  • Getting in touch with other people who are experiencing similar issues.

10. Learn to say no!

When it comes to work, saying no can be difficult. But when you’re busy, it’s essential. Too much yes-saying will prevent you from taking care of yourself or your family. And when you’re not taking care of yourself, you’re not being productive. So learn to say no at work.

It may feel guilt-inducing to say no, but guilt will not help you achieve your goals. Here are some tips for communicating no effectively:

  • Do not allow others to pressure you into saying yes.
  • Make sure you are honest with yourself and consider whether it would actually be beneficial to say yes.
  • Consider the consequences before saying yes. Will you regret it in the future?
  • Choosing to say yes may have more adverse consequences than choosing to say no.
  • If you must say no, make sure you are polite and thank them for including you in their plans.
  • It may be more appropriate to request a different assignment.
  • It is important to set boundaries and clarify your abilities and limitations.
  • You should avoid making unreliable promises.

To sum up

In conclusion, there are many treatment options to overcome work addiction which is usually an ignored mental health disorder. The most important thing for recovery is to be honest with yourself and seek a therapy program if needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or a therapist. Breaking the cycle of work addiction can be difficult, but it is possible. Remember to stay patient with yourself as you go through the process and take things one step at a time to get back your psychological well-being.


View of Work-Addiction: A Poison by Slow Motion. Published 2022. Accessed September 20, 2022.

‌Longabaugh, R., & Magill, M. (2011). Recent advances in behavioral addiction treatments: focusing on mechanisms of change. Current Psychiatry Reports, 13(5), 382-389.