So you’re a workaholic.
Or at least there’s some reason for you to think so.
You’ve been going through an intense phase of “all work and no play”.
Or maybe it’s just that the work has kept piling on and you’ve been in a state of perpetual catchup for so long that you can’t even call it a phase anymore.
Whatever the reason – you’re here for some reason.
Maybe for answers.
Maybe for suggestions.
There’s plenty to be had here – I’m sure they’ll pique your interest.
Who is a workaholic?
Life is all about balance.
Perfect balance is what you find in the exact middle of the spectrum, in between one extreme and another.
Between work and play.
Mr. Miyagi: You remember lesson about balance?
Mr. Miyagi: Lesson not just karate only. Lesson for whole life. Whole life have a balance. Everything be better. Understand?
–The Karate Kid (1984)
Workaholics have none of that.
And it’s not necessarily their fault.
They just have an inner drive that compels them to work excessively hard.
An insatiable urge that makes them work so hard that it borders on compulsion.
They work too much and, some of the time, don’t even enjoy their work.
It’s part of their unique psychological makeup.
They’re workaholics because, fundamentally – they are perfectionists.
They have incredibly high standards with regards to the fruit of their labour.
Holidays for workaholics aren’t quite holidays
Workaholics tend to experience extreme feelings of guilt and high levels of anxiety when away from work and not working.
This is why workaholics can’t relax when on holiday.
They are so involved in their work that they find it very difficult to detach from it.
So what’s the best thing a workaholic can do to recover properly from work during their leisure time and their holidays?
The best thing a workaholic can do to recover from work
Arnold Bakker and his colleagues tracked Dutch workers over a period of nine work days to investigate what workaholics could do in their leisure time to help them in their off-job recovery.
Over these nine days, the workers provided detailed information on work and leisure activities and well-being.
The main finding of the experiment is that physical exercise helped protect workaholics from damaged psychological health.
In other words, the workaholics obtained considerable protective benefits from sports and exercise during evening workouts.
This resulted in them having higher evening happiness and greater feelings of vigour and adequate recovery at bedtime.
What Bakker and colleagues also found was that social activities might not be the best thing for workaholics to do in their leisure time.
“As individuals can talk about work-related issues even when they meet friends during off-work time, it might be that workaholics used the time spent on social activities to ruminate and speak further about their work with their friends, thus undermining the favourable effect of social activities.”
It seem that workaholics might need the psychological detachment that physical activity provides them with.
Otherwise they would continue to worry and ruminate about work – either by sitting in front of the television or by complaining to friends.
“…for workaholics, it seems to matter more what they do in their leisure time than for non-workaholics.”
So if you’re a workaholic looking to recover from work during your leisure time – exercise.
To quote author of Gorilla Mindset Mike Cernovich:
“No matter how you feel before going to the gym, you will always feel better afterwards.”
P.S. Thanks for reading. If you liked this, feel free to sign up to my free weekly newsletter for more psychological insights into everyday life.
Thank you to Paul F. for introducing me to this study.