Health Effects of Being a Workaholic


Who doesn’t know what a workaholic looks like in today’s high-paced world? They are the ones who come to work early and get off late, and even will spend weekends working from home. If you don’t consider that as workaholism, then you might yourself be one. 

The hustler mentality that has gripped today’s employees’ imaginations has induced a culture of overworking. The idea being that if you ‘work till you drop,’ you might make it, otherwise forget about fancy cars and spacious villas. 

Studies suggest that of a given population of the workforce, 30% are workaholics. The most affected group is that of the middle-aged males. 

So, what exactly does workaholism mean? 

Workaholism is the tendency of people to overexert at work and commit to working seven, or more than seven hours, of work on top of the regular shift hours. Psychologist Wayne Oates is credited with coming up with this term. He coined it in 1971 and defined it as, “the compulsion or the uncontrollable need to work incessantly.”

Workaholics experience constant stress which renders them unable to relax and detach from their job responsibilities, and, as a result, they develop an unhealthy habit of taking on more work than they can handle. 

This culture of workaholism has spread from the corporate sector to the healthcare. However, the reasons for workaholism at healthcare facilities may be justified a little, it still doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be discouraged. 

Nurses and physicians working in the healthcare sector have to constantly spread themselves thin in an effort to keep on top of the massive workload. The reason for this is that nurses are greatly understaffed, and the sector is facing a global shortage in care providers. 

Nursing, therefore, has become a highly in-demand profession with several institutes offering Online RN to BSN Program and other healthcare courses, in a bid to replenish nursing staffs, so that nurses don’t have to work the extra hours that can push them closer toward burnout.

What are the factors behind Workaholism?

There are several factors that singlehandedly, or altogether, drive a person toward being a workaholic, such as:

  • Financial Issues
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Associating self-worth to work
  • Peer Pressure
  • Pressure by organization
  • Emotional or Psychological Reasons
  • Avoiding a personal matter

How Workaholism affects your health:

The false expectations and over romanticization of the hustler life have pushed many into overworking to harmful levels. Instead of glorifying overexertion and hustle lifestyle, we should discourage such practices as culturally and psychologically harmful. 

What’s the difference between working hard and overworking, you might wonder? 

Simply put, a hard-working individual becomes a workaholic when he starts choosing work over other equally important aspects of their life, like health, family, and relationships.

Below are a few of the adverse effects workaholics experience:

1.Muscle Damage

The most basic way you can know if overworking is affecting your health is noticing if you have any muscle pains. Long hours spent sitting in front of the computer, while seated on an uncomfortable chair, can hurt your eyes and muscles by wearing them out. 

According to a study conducted by Occupational & Environmental Medicine journal, workaholism is associated with an increased risk of muscle pain. In women, this pain usually occurs as neck pain whereas in men it is observed as lower back pain. In severe cases, this low-grade back pain can escalate to chronic levels and even disability.


Sleep is another part of a workaholic’s life that is negatively impacted. A person working overtime is more likely to sacrifice sleep to complete a task or plan his next project, making sleep sacrifices in the process. 

An inadequate amount of sleep leads to increased levels of cortisol in your body. It is a stress hormone, and the increased levels of this hormone makes it more difficult for the person to fall asleep. Workaholics suffering from insomnia tend to experience daytime sleepiness, sudden mood shifts, and impaired memory.

3.Poor Nutrition

When you begin skipping meals and start working during the lunch break, it’s time to reevaluate your life preferences. It is also common for people who overwork themselves to eat packaged or junk food to save time and effort. Poor nutrition plays a major role in developing health-related issues like obesity, high blood pressure as well as the weakening of the immune system.

4.Frequent Headaches

The most commonly-occurring complaint among workaholics is getting frequent headaches. These headaches could be recurring or chronic, ranging from mild to severe. It could result from stress, poor nutrition, or not getting enough sleep. The situation gets more alarming if the person suffers from migraine, which can worsen their symptoms.

5.Stress & Depression

Workaholism also gravely disrupts your psychological well-being. Constantly working without sparing any time for your mind and body to relax leads to chronic conditions like stress, depression, irritability, and anxiety. 

As you become distant from your friends and family, you start feeling lonely and that’s where depression can kick in. The limited to an almost non-existent social life that workaholics lead also gives rise to emotional and psychological disorders.

6.Increased Susceptibility to Diseases

Overworking yourself can end up harming your organs and increases your chances of developing diseases. Your heart and lungs are the organs most at risk to damage. The most commonly observed health conditions in workaholics are cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, gastrointestinal disorders, and diabetes mellitus, and as well as an increased risk of occupational injury.


If you keep working for prolonged periods of time, overexerting yourself, you will reach a point in time when you might suffer from a breakdown. The work-related exhaustion accumulates, and can eventually lead you to burnout. 

It is a condition where you become mentally, physically, and emotionally fatigued, and is caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Burnout first manifests as insignificant signs and symptoms until it gradually complicates leading to an onset of chronic health conditions and even death.

8.Dependence on Drugs or Caffeine

Workaholics often develop a dependence on drugs to help them find focus and energy to carry on working. They give themselves a physical and mental boost with countless cups of coffee or through energy drinks. 

Such stuff is extremely detrimental to health, causing addiction and affecting mental health. Not only that, but chain-smoking is also common among people who work obsessively. They become forgetful and suffer the negative effects from the deterioration of their sensory organs.

How to Treat Workaholism?

You can overcome your work obsession or help your loved one suffering from the same condition by practicing the following:

  • Determine your triggers and motivating factors
  • Set an alarm or timer to remind yourself when you should go on a break
  • Start a daily healthy routine like going for a walk or joining yoga classes
  • Try meditation
  • Refocus your attention and practice mindfulness
  • Make rules and a daily routine dividing adequate parts of your day between work and rest.
  • Seek help from a professional

Concluding Remarks:

Workaholism is a severe condition that affects not only your health but also slowly steals away your precious time that is meant to be spent with loved ones and doing what actually makes you happy. Having a successful career and making money is important but what good is it if it prevents you from living a healthy life? Learn to enjoy a little, giving your love to those who are close to you as well as to yourself, who especially deserves a break after all that work. 

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