For as long as I can remember, I have always displayed extreme focus and concentration levels, especially during my years as a student. I remember at times being so focused that I would sometimes forget to eat or even sleep when working on an assignment or project. Throughout the years, displaying high levels of focus in some regards has been a blessing since I could quickly enter a very focused flow state. Over the years, there were a lot of health problems/ drawbacks I often encountered living life as a workaholic who was highly focused and driven.
Problems and drawbacks I have personally faced due to being a workaholic include:
1. Chronic Fatigue
3. Sleep Issues
5. Chronic Stress
The Pros and Cons To Adopting A Workaholic Lifestyle
There have been many pros and cons to adopting a workaholic’s lifestyle throughout my years as a student. The benefit of being a workaholic was that I could quickly enter a very focused and productive flow state. For those who don’t know, a flow state or “being in the zone” is a state of extreme focus whereby a person forgets about everything else around them while immersing themselves deeply in whatever task or project they have to do.
The downsides of being a workaholic over the years have to do with the fact that it often got in the way of me adopting healthy habits, such as remembering to eat, sleep, exercise, take a break, and so on.
The consequences of living life as a workaholic can often lead to chronic stress resulting in burnout, fatigue, and even insomnia. Based on my own experiences, the workaholic lifestyle caused me to feel very burnt out, tired, and chronically stressed on a daily basis. As someone who has always been invested in adopting a healthy lifestyle, even I would sometimes forget to do the fundamental things required to be healthy. Basic things included sleeping enough, eating a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, going outside to get fresh air, and so on.
Struggling To Detach From A Work/Task
Displaying extreme focus and concentration levels can come with many drawbacks, such as an inability to detach and take a break from a task you are working on. I personally often found myself at times struggling to separate from whatever work/task I was doing. At times the inability to detach and take breaks was so substantial that I often found it to be challenging to be mindful/present at the moment.
Sometimes I would be so focused on a particular task that taking breaks felt impossible and very difficult. There were times when I felt like I needed more motivation to stop working on a task and detach than I did even to start it.
There were times when even when I took a break to do other things, I would still be thinking about the initial task/work that I was previously doing. Sometimes I became so obsessed with any work/task I was doing that it often got to points where I would even dream about the initial work that I had to do!
Long-term Health Consequences Of Adopting A Workaholic Lifestyle
In the short term forgetting to eat or pulling all-nighters won’t do much harm or have a negative impact your overall health. However, in the long term, unhealthy habits such as pulling all-nighters, poor diet, being sedentary, etc.… can often lead to health problems such as chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
Chronic stress often experienced as a workaholic can increase what is known as allostatic load. Allostatic load is the wearing and tearing of the body under long-term repeated exposure to chronic stress. A high allostatic load can significantly increase a person’s risk and susceptibility to diseases and illnesses; this is usually the price a person has to pay when exposed to chronic stress in the long run.
Why Your Work Should Never Get In The Way Of Adopting A Healthy Lifestyle
It can be very tempting at times to pull all-nighters or cut down on sleep to be left with more hours in the day to get work completed. While occasionally pulling all-nighters may not be a problem or issue in the short term, doing it in the long term can be catastrophic.
Cutting down on sleep, pulling all-nighters can not only negatively impact a person’s overall health but significantly lead to a decline in a person’s overall productivity and performance throughout the day.
There is a strong correlation between a person’s overall health and levels of performance and productivity throughout the day. The healthier you are, the more productive you will be throughout the day. Healthier people, on average, tend to have more energy, more mental clarity naturally, and less brain fog, etc… when compared to someone who is less healthy.
The Difference Between Motivation/Drive And Obsession
Throughout my journey towards overcoming my workaholic tendencies, I realized a key distinct difference between being motivated/driven and being obsessed. Many people can often mistake obsession for motivation and vice versa, but there is a distinct difference between the two terms.
Motivation/drive is a person’s level of passion and interest to complete a given task in anticipation of a reward. Obsession is ruled by anxiety and stress, to the point where a person loses self-control in order to detach from what they are doing, i.e., they can’t stop thinking or working on a given task.
People who are obsessed with work instead of motivated often allow work/tasks to get in the way of them adopting a healthy lifestyle. General health and wellbeing are often a low priority for obsessed people, in comparison to motivated people.
Obsessed workers, aka workaholics, have high tendencies to display some of the following habits:
- Pulling all-nighters
- Being sedentary
- Not going outside
- Not eating enough
- Not drinking enough
Transitioning From A Workaholic Lifestyle To A Healthy Lifestyle
My transition from a workaholic lifestyle to a healthy lifestyle wasn’t straightforward and easy. For a long time, I have always struggled to detach and take breaks while sitting at my desk to work. Intuitively, I have always known that living life as a workaholic wasn’t the best thing for overall health; however, overcoming the bad habit was easier said than done.
Being able to acknowledge the bad habit of being a workaholic was one step in the right direction; however, in order to overcome this bad habit, I had to understand the deeper causes of the problem/issue.
March 6th, 2020 was when I realized and came to understand that workaholism, i.e., an obsession with working very hard, was actually tied to anxiety. You see, I realized that I didn’t work very hard on tasks simply because I was super motivated. I had an obsession to work hard simply because I was very anxious and stressed without realizing it. As far as the sleepless nights are concerned, anxiety and stress made me “tired but wired”i.e. very tired but unable to relax, quiet my mind, and sleep.
After finally coming to terms with why I was always a workaholic over the years, I took it upon myself to consume magnesium supplements since they were the only supplements that I found helped me to reduce my overall levels of anxiety and stress.
After months of taking magnesium supplements and other things to reduce anxiety, I saw a drastic reduction in my workaholic tendency and behavior. I started to notice that I could focus intensely on tasks and then quickly unfocus and detach my mind entirely from any task/work I was doing.
Being able to separate myself from any work that I am doing has drastically increased my levels of creativity and innovation throughout the day. What I had come to realize is that unfocusing/detaching my mind from tasks allows me to come up with creative ideas that I wouldn’t usually come up with when being in a hyper-focused state. This ability to detach your mind from a task is the very reason why the most creative ideas tend to come when we daydream and allow our minds to wonder.
In addition to taking magnesium supplements, adopting healthy work habits has been a massive game-changer for my overall health, productivity, and performance throughout the day! I often found that taking magnesium supplements led to higher stress tolerance levels, better sleep, and reduced incidences of work-related burnout.
The Healthy Work Habits That I Adopted Includes The Following:
- Stand-up desks- Converting my desk into a stand-up desk in order to stand up while working at my desk.
- Physical Exercise – Taking my breaks to move around and exercise for circulation.
- Going For Walks -Helps reduce stress, brain fog and promote mental clarity.
- Meditation – helps reduce stress and anxiety while increasing mental clarity and reducing brain fog.
Workaholism has become a bigger and bigger issue for many people living in today’s fast-paced, stressful society. It’s sad to think many people have become normalized to experiencing things such as chronic stress and burnout.
Thanks to the media and society as a whole, many people focus more on addressing unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol, as opposed to reducing stress. In truth, chronic stress is just as detrimental/destructive to a person’s overall health when compared to the dangers of smoking and drinking alcohol.
Establishing healthy work habits and having a solid work to rest balance is crucial for a person to be productive, happy, and healthy at the same time. The dangers chronic stress can have to a person’s overall health should never be underestimated or overlooked, especially in today’s fast-paced society where being busy is often at expense of being healthy.