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How to cure an addiction to work

NHS test determines workplace stress

In the digital age, it’s easy to become the kind of person who never truly switches off. Being called a ‘workaholic’ is no longer an insult for those who think their overzealous dedication their job translates to ultimate success. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Rebecca Knight finds out from the experts how we can break an addiction to work.

Redefine success
Take a moment to really think about your priorities in life. Don’t define yourself by your job or the money you make; your self-worth also revolves around your personal relationships, health, engagement with your community and your emotional wellbeing. Just remember that you don’t have to be perfect and there will always be somebody better than you so long as you compare yourself to others.

Refocus your attention
Once you’ve got your priorities in line, turn your attention to your actual work. What is the most important aspect of your career? Focus your energy on that. There will always be more work to do, but don’t let it distract you from the rest of your life. When you’re spending time with your family or friends, don’t answer work calls or emails; not only is it rude, but it detracts from important moments in your life.

Reset expectations
Understand that being a workaholic is just like any other addiction – you can’t break it alone. Get friends, family and colleagues on your side and keep them in the loop on what you’re doing. This way they can all adjust their expectations to be more in line with your personal goals. This includes your boss. Be very clear, set definitive boundaries and be honest about why you’re changing your behaviour.

Try a digital detox
Hide your phone outside of work hours; turn it off and keep it out of site. You can also try limiting your dependency on your devices in your personal life by reducing the amount of time you spend on social media; don’t use your phone to fill time you could be using for other activities. Above all else, set a standard in your office by not using your phone while you’re talking to others.

Be mindful
Practise being completely aware and non-judgemental – also known as mindfulness. Focus your mind on a single task and remember to breathe. It helps you stay in control of your life and makes you really think about your actions.

Stay healthy
Your number one priority should always be your own health. It’s impossible to maintain a high standard of work and personal relationships if you’re physically or mentally unwell. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods and exercise as much as you can – and be sure to bring this behaviour to work by taking breaks to refresh your mind and body.

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