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The link between workaholism and mental health is hidden.

Working long hours can temporarily relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression. You’re better off leaving your office and confronting your feelings.

Winston Churchill was a lot of things: a statesman, sailor, and writer. He was among the first leaders to raise the alarm in the 1930s about the Nazi threat, and he captured the world’s imagination in World War II as a leader in the fight against the Axis. He had served as a prime minister of Britain during World War II. He kept a hectic schedule and spent 18 hours per day working. He also wrote book after book while in office. It was completed in 43 volumes, filling 72.

Churchill suffered from crippling depression, which he called “his black dog,” and that visited him repeatedly. It is almost impossible to imagine that Churchill could be productive in such a sad state. He once said that he did not like standing by the ship’s side and looking into the sea. “The second act will  enough to end everything.”

Churchill was said to have suffered from bipolar depression, with periods of mania allowing him to continue working. Some of Churchill’s biographers have explained it differently, saying that Churchill’s workaholism was not despite his suffering but as a result. He diverted himself by working. Researchers today have found that workaholism can be a common stress response. Like many other addictions, workaholism worsens the problem it was meant to solve.

Tens of millions of Americans — up to 10%– sometimes suffer from substance abuse. Addictions are a familiar phenomenon. In some cases, using controlled substances to relieve pain can become a disorder. When a drug is used to treat a condition, it can continue even after the professional treatment has ended. This is a common path toward opiate dependence.

Many people start treating themselves from the beginning. Researchers analyzed data from the past decade and published it in the journal Depression and Anxiety. Based on their literature review, they found that 24 percent of those with an anxiety disorder and 22 percent with mood disorders (such as bipolar disorder or major depression) self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Self-medicators are more likely to become addicted to substances. For example, epidemiological study data revealed that individuals who self-medicated with alcohol for anxiety were six times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who did not self-medicate.

Some people also treat their emotional issues with work. New addiction can be lead by it. It has long been assumed that workaholism is the cause of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Has recently argued reverse causality–that workaholics may treat their anxiety and depression with workaholic behaviors. According to the authors of a widely-reported 2016 study published in the scientific journal PLOS One, “Workaholism can develop as a way of reducing anxiety or depression.”

This study, published in 2016, received much attention because it was so high-quality. It will undoubtedly lead to more testing of this hypothesis over the next few years. The causal relationship, which I believe will hold, could partly explain why so many people increased their hours during the pandemic. Many people experienced boredom, anxiety, and loneliness during the first shutdowns. By late May 2020, CDC showed nearly a quarter of American adults reported depression symptoms. In 2019, this figure was 6.5%. Some workers may have self-treated to make themselves feel more productive and busy by increasing their workload.

Workaholics can deny the problem and miss the real issues they are trying to treat. How can working be bad? How can work be bad?

You’ll be rewarded for your addiction at work. Nobody says, “Wow! A fully bottle of Gin in one night?”  You will be promoted, if you work 16 hours a day

The costs of excessive work will outweigh the benefits, as is the case with self-medicating habits. Not better, but worse. Burnout, Depression, Job Stress, and Work-Life Conflict. Workaholism could lead to secondary addictions such as drugs, alcohol, or pornography according to lembke. These are often used to self-medicate the problems the primary addiction brings.

For a new episode of Build a Happy Life, I conducted an interview with Ashley Whillans. She is the author of TimeSmart: How to Reclaim Your Time and Live a Happier Life. She said that the best way to combat workaholism is by increasing your awareness about how you spend your time and changing your mentality so you don’t value work above leisure. She suggested three practices.

1. Do a time audit.

Keep a detailed log of all your activities for a few weeks. Include how much time you spent doing each activity and how you feel. Notate the activities that give you the best mood and the most meaning. This will tell you how much work you do (to make denial difficult) and what you enjoy doing when you’re not working (to help make recovery more appealing).

2. Schedule your downtime.

Workaholics often marginalize non-work activities and replace them with work. The 14th hour, seldom productive, can replace an hour with your kids. You should schedule time for activities other than work, just like you would for meetings.

3. Program your leisure.

Make sure to leave your downtime slots unstructured. The unstructured time invites you to return to work or passive activities which are not good for your well-being—for example, scrolling through social media or watching TV. Your to-do lists are organized by priority. Plan active pastimes that you enjoy. Be sure to call your friend when you have the time. Schedule it and stick with it.

It has changed my life. I treat my gym sessions, prayer times, and walks as a meeting with the president. I do nothing without being distracted when I don’t have anything planned.

Listen as Arthur Brooks and business professor Ashley Whillans explore the gap between how we want to use our time and how we do it.

It can have a significant impact on our lives. It allows more time to spend with family and friends. It allows for non-work activities that are just fun. We can take better care of ourselves by exercising, for instance. These things can either increase happiness or decrease unhappiness.

However, addressing the problem of workaholism does not address the root cause that was intended to be treated by working so hard. Churchill’s black canine may also be visiting you. Maybe your dog has a different hue: a strained marriage, a persistent feeling of inadequacy, or even ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorders that have been associated with overwork. Stopping to use work as a distraction is a chance to confront your problems, maybe with some help.

It might be more frightening to face the dog than to turn to the usual animal control officers – your boss, colleagues, or your career. You can get rid of the mutt permanently.

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