women

Hooked on long days and even longer bouts of stress?

Do you routinely skip your lunch break? When you go to sleep, do you dream of spreadsheets? Do you feel naked without your iPhone? If you answered an emphatic yes to these questions, chances are you’re Bonafide workaholic.

Description: Are You Headed For A Burnout?

Are You Headed For A Burnout?

In our fast-paced, plugged-in world, there’s a fine line between wanting to get ahead in your career and being addicted to your job. A Norwegian university has devised a Work Addiction Scale to distinguish between employees who are simply ambitious and those who ate genuine workaholics. The scale assesses the kinds of behaviors all addicts share, from freeing up time for their addiction (work) to denying it’s a problem at all.

‘Growing globalization means it’s necessary for some companies to be in constant touch with colleagues in different time zones,’ says Dr. Cecilie Andreassen, who devised the Work Addiction Scale. ‘These factors, and others, contribute to more employees who are driven to work excessively and compulsively – the definition of an addict.’

And all that work is taking a serious toll on our wellbeing. A US study of Generation Xers found 69 per cent think their job damages their health, 46 per cent believe it harms their relationship with their partner and 50 per cent reckon it means a satisfying sex life is completely out the window.

If you’re concerned that you might be headed this way (or are already there), follow our expert advice on how to make your work, er, work for you.

Red flags

With deadlines looming daily, you might have missed the warning signs that a burnout is on the horizon. Take a minute or two to consider how you’re actually feeling, says life coach Louise Presley-Turner. ‘Look out for red flags like not having time to eat or even go to the loo; feeling anxious and panicky all the time; consistently working till 10pm; using cigarettes or alcohol to help you relax, and finding it difficult to sleep because your head is spinning.’

And, while workaholics tend to ignore any suggestions from family and friends to clock off, it’s important to listen to the people who know you best. ‘If your friends and family mention they don’t see you as often as they used to, you’re always preoccupied with work (even when you’re doing non-work activities) and you feel guilty if you’re not working, it’s time to address the lack of balance,’ says performance development consultant Charlotte Austin.

Balancing act

Striking a healthy work/ life balance is easier said than done, but it’s crucial for your health, your happiness and your relationships. ‘You can’t put all your energy into one area of your life and expect a balance to exist,’ warns Charlotte. ‘If you want to maintain healthy relationships, you need to really nurture them.’

Description: Striking a healthy work/ life balance is easier said than done, but it’s crucial for your health, your happiness and your relationships

Striking a healthy work/ life balance is easier said than done, but it’s crucial for your health, your happiness and your relationships

As well as finding time to chill out with your mates, it’s also important to make time for yourself. ‘Build some downtime into your weekly schedule,’ says Louise. ‘Make an appointment with yourself to read, ride your bike, run or watch TV.’ And stick to it!

In the long-term, ‘Meditation will help you relax and de-stress,’ Louise says. ‘It helps you to understand yourself better and connect with what’s important to you.’ See it as an opportunity to dig deep and consider if your work, and work schedule, is truly making you happy or whether it’s time to lighten up.

How to make a change

The good news? You don’t have to hand in your notice to quit your work habit, just make an effort to change the way you work to reduce the load. Try these top tips to become more efficient and wave goodbye to stress.

Description: How to make a change

How to make a change

Plan

‘Planning is absolutely key,’ says Charlotte. ‘Organise your working day into time boxes, and don’t forget to factor in at least an hour of “reactive time” each day to deal with any unpredictable requests and emails that require immediate attention.’

Delegate

‘Some of the world’s most successful people have learnt the art of delegation,’ says Louise. Entrust others with the tasks you set and accept the fact that you can’t do everything – you’re not superhuman!

Just stop

This sounds simple but if you’re feeling your blood pressure rising, step away from your desk for a time out. ‘Breathe in as deeply as you can for a count of five and release, then repeat five times,’ advises Louise.

Move around

‘You should be doing about 30 minutes of exercise each day,’ says Charlotte. ‘This release of feel-good endorphins will help keep your mind and body healthy.’ If your to-do list is longer than Cameron Diaz’s legs and you think you simply can’t find time to exercise, remember that keeping fir will actually make you more done by boosting your energy levels and increasing your ability to concentrate,’ says Louise.

Step outside

‘Natural daylight is good for your mental health,’ says Charlotte, ‘so make sure you get some every single day.’ Don’t ask someone to pick you up a sandwich while you stay glued to your screen – the five minutes it takes to pop out won’t leave you lagging behind. Go to Pret yourself and enjoy the fresh air on your walk there.

Get some perspective

Feeling overwhelmed? Take a minute to give yourself a reality check. Ask yourself if filing that report or meeting that deadline is as crucial as you think. ‘Remember that it’s only a job!’ says Louise.

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