Workaholics- society reveres them, in the cost of their health. I’ve seen it happen, in my family, in friends, and coworkers, and it’s a lose lose situation for all parties involved in the long run. The tricky part is, once you get sucked into the gratification system, it’s addicting, and when it gets bad, you lose sight of what you were going after in the first place, and work consumes you. Work starts to work you, not the other way around. Your identity becomes work, work becomes your identity and you depend on work as much as your identity. But it’s a fragile thing, what kind of identity work provides- status, recognition, money; when things are good, it feels like you can control all the aspects and the consequences, but when it’s not, you realize you have very little say in it. And fragile identities are not healthy. I’ve worn a few in my life (identities, that is) as we all probably have, and I know which ones will last me a cold winter, and which will help me catch a cold.
Now, what does anxiety have to do with workaholism? Anxiety is the driving force that gets the wheels moving, and in time, with good practice, it becomes second nature- a compulsion, if you will. Anxiety fuels the compulsion to check your work email in the middle of the night, helps you to dream about your projects in your sleep, stops you from being able to stay still in your free moment, makes you to ignore fatigue by drinking loads of coffee… Anxiety fuels it all.
The reason why I’m writing about all this in a blog post is, I feel like my workaholism is catching up to me in my supposedly innocent hobbies like this one, and my art. I’ve been feeling really good (read: probably hypomanic) lately, and while that’s a fantastic thing, but because of my mobility (read: being able to get out of bed), I’m having a hard time stopping myself from overworking- over-writing, over-drawing, signing up for too many things, planning too many opens houses, devising possible opportunity to go back to school in too many fields than I can count, and making too many goals in the goals box in my bullet planner. That’s another thing, mania or hypomania also fuels workaholism.
With all that said, how do we stop this epidemic? We stop, notice the compulsive behavior, and assess. Ask what your body is telling you, and listen to your mind. Do something about the negative anxiety, workaholic cycle- bravely cut back your workload (in my case, hobbyload, ha), and as hard as it is, force yourself to take a break. Turn off your phone, and computer and breathe. Stay still. Your work will still be there after a ten minute break.