Are You Addicted To Your Work?

addicted to work


Do you just love your job, or are you a workaholic?

Researchers from the University of Bergen have identified seven criteria to measure work addiction. If you reply ‘often’ or ‘always’ to at least four of these criteria, then there is some indication that you may be a workaholic:
1. You think of how you can free up more time to work.
2. You spend much more time working than initially intended.
3. You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness and/or depression.
4. You have been told by others to cut down on work without listening to them.
5. You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
6. You deprioritise hobbies, leisure activities, and/or exercise because of work.
7. You work so much that it has negatively influenced your health.

There is a very strong element of compulsiveness, rigidity and excessiveness in the behaviour of workaholics. This isn’t just about enjoying your work and/or working long hours, or making sacrifices as you build your career or business. This is about compulsive behaviour that damages your relationships and your health. The same core symptoms your see in workaholism you see in drug addiction such as working to escape something, withdrawal symptoms, negative impact on other areas of your life, and problems with relapse.

Workaholism isn’t as yet a formal diagnosis so we don’t have a developed set of treatments to offer people, but the need is certainly there. Studies suggest the prevalence rate for workaholism is somewhere between 5% and 10%.

If, looking at this list, you can see that work is actively damaging you health and your relationships – then it really is time to do something about it. Visit your GP to ask about talking therapies, speak to a mental health professional or visit our website to see how we can help.


Cecilie Schou Andreassen et al (2014) The Prevalence of Workaholism: A Survey Study in a Nationally Representative Sample of Norweigan Employees. PLoS ONE, 9(8)

Resilient Employees Are Engaged Employees


We here at WorkGuru love our academic research – we think it is really important that that our on-line resilience programme is not only based on years of our experience about what works to reduce individual stress and build workplace resilience but also reflects what academic research tells us works.

This is why we are hugely excited by a recently published guide on employee engagement for HR professionals. NHS Employers have launched a guide which draws on a synthesis of the academic research underpinning employee engagement and concludes that there is strong evidence linking what they call ‘positive psychological states’ and staff engagement – positive psychological states include things such as resilience and self-efficacy.

Resilient staff with high self- efficacy (the extent to which we believe in our own ability to complete tasks and reach goals) are more engaged staff, and there is of course lots of evidence for why having engaged staff is important for the success of your business.

The authors suggest that one way that HR professionals can raise engagement levels within their organisation is through offering resilience and mindfulness training. They write: “some relatively simple techniques, based on the principle of ‘positive psychology’, can help boost employees’ resilience, coping mechanisms, and awareness of self and others”.

All music to our ears. Yet more evidence that as well as the myriad of personal reasons why we should all be increasing our emotional resilience, there are also a myriad of organizational reasons why employers should be investing in resilience programmes for their staff – and of course our preference would be for investment in evidence-based, engaging programmes that are delivered on-line with individual direct messaging support from coaches, with the added bonus of on-line groups. Now where do we know an organization that offers all that? 😉

Is Legislation Needed to Protect Us From Workplace Stress?


bossThe German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new ‘anti-stress’ legislation, banning companies from contacting employees out of hours. It is already illegal in Germany for employees to contact staff during their holidays.

In France, a deal signed by employers’ federations and unions affecting 250,000 employees require employers to make sure that staff ‘disconnect’ outside of working hours.

But is a blanket ban the right approach for helping us to manage workplace stress?

One of the problems with turning to legislation to help us manage employee mental health is that we are promulgating the myth that the workplace is an innately negative environment that can cause us irreparable damage, and that we, mere helpless employees, need protection from exploitative and draconian bosses.

Yes there is an issue with workplace mental health; 22% of us describe our jobs as extremely or very stressful. Although the research supporting this figure is unclear about whether respondents are using the term ‘stress’ in a negative way (“my work is stressful and it is making me ill”) or whether they are saying it in a neutral way (“my work is stressful but I manage the demands that are made of me”) or in a positive way (“my work is stressful but I am invigorated and motivated by the challenges”).

Stress, the causes of stress and our responses to it are complicated. What causes me untold negative work stress might be perceived by you as a manageable and welcome part of your working day; and what to me might be a much loved part of my job might be a much dreaded element of your job.

We need to tackle workplace stress in four ways (all four elements need to be in place) by:

  • Ensuring that protective policies are in place so that there is a clear understanding of our rights and our role within an organisation.
  • Encouraging managers to be better at what they do and to lead by example so that they are working in ways that help them to maintain and build their resilience.
  • Making sure that we all have the training and the knowledge to help us build our resilience and manage our mental health.
  • Providing easily accessible, evidence-based support for people who are struggling.

Yes legislation is important in that it sets out a framework in which all employers must operate (think minimum wage or working time directives) but it mustn’t be so restrictive that it prevents us from making our own decisions about how we work and it mustn’t buy into this myth that restrictive practices must be put into place to protect a powerless workforce from unscrupulous bosses.

Four Reasons Why Our Friends Are Important

A recent survey by the counselling organisation Relate reported that 1 in 10 of the people questioned did not have a close friend and that 1 in 5 of us feel unloved. 81% of people who are married or cohabiting feel good about themselves compared with 69% who are single.

Friendships are important, but it is often a part of our life that we just don’t give enough attention to. It sits in our ‘would be nice to do if I had enough time’ pile rather than our ‘essential’ pile.

There are lots of reasons why we should be investing the effort in making and maintaining good, supportive friendships. Here are just four:

1. Friends Make you Happy
People who have close friends are happier. People who consistently rate themselves as ‘very happy’ have more rich and satisfying friendships; they spend least time alone and more time socialising. Great relationships might not guarantee you great happiness, but the evidence is that you cannot achieve great happiness without them.

2. Friends Lighten the Load
Having your friends with you either in your thoughts or in person helps us to negotiate life’s challenges. Researchers found that people accompanied by a friend, or who thought of a supportive friend saw a hill as less steep than people on their own or thinking of someone who wasn’t a friend. Having a friend by your side or in your thoughts quite literally “lightens the load’ and helps you to manage life’s difficulties.

3. Friends Increase Our Resilience
Having the support of friends increases our physical and our mental resilience. Social connection protects us from stress related illness and symptoms and boosts our immune system providing resistance to infectious diseases. It also protects us from the vagaries of life. The greater the network of people we can call on when life is dealing us a dud-hand, the greater our ability to cope.

4. Sharing Good News With Friends Boosts Your Feel-Good Factor
Sharing good news with others helps us to savour the experience. Research has shown that when good things happen, sharing the news with friends helps us to experience even more positive affect than could be attributed to the event alone. Telling someone else about a positive event increases your happiness and life satisfaction. When it comes to good news, it is definitely positive to share.

For further information:

1. Diener, E., Sligman, M.E.P., (2002) Very Happy People Psychological Science. 13:1

2. Schnall, S., Harber, K.D., Stefanucci, J.K., Proffitt, D.R. (2008) Social Support and the Perception of a Geographical Slant. Journal of Exp Psych 44

3. Cohen, S., Doyle, WJ., Turner, R., Alper, C.M., Skoner, D.P., (2003) Socialbility and Susceptibility to the Common Cold. Psychological Science 14:5

4. Langton, C.A., (1994( Capitalizing on coping and daily-life events: Expressive responses to positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 67.

Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Living a life that reflects your personal values can act as a buffer against psychological and physical stress; but often in life we become detached from our values, we forget the things that are really important to us, the things that give our life meaning.

Nothing focuses your mind on the things that are most important, than knowing your time is running out. Bronnie Ware, a nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last weeks of their lives, recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, her writing has now been put into a book the Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

Here are the top five regrets of the dying as witnessed by Ware and taken from an article written by Susie Steiner for The Guardian.

1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it”.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Each one of these regrets resonates with me. it is as if a precious pearl of wisdom has been handed down to us, words so wise we would be fools to ignore them.

Imagine yourself facing your final days; what regrets might you have and what can you be doing now to change those regrets before it is too late?