What Is Workaholism Linked To Mental Health? How It Affects Students
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What Is Workaholism Linked To Mental Health? How It Affects Students

Jasmyne Jeffery February 6, 2023

Speak Up. Reach Out is Freshered's mental health initiative.

At some points in our lives, we push ourselves too hard. One of the places we do it the most is with our work. With the pressure of deadlines and wanting to succeed, students definitely know what that burnout feeling is. However, pushing through that can be damaging. We look at the workaholism definition amid links to mental health issues, and what that means for students.

University is a time for trying your best and being proud of what you achieve. However, that quite quickly becomes working too hard and feeling as if you can’t stop. Knowing when and how to stop is important for your physical and mental health. If you don’t think you can tell when enough is enough, then you could be a student with workaholism.

The Workaholism Definition and Explanation

Looking to the Cambridge Dictionary, the workaholism definition is a condition where an individual works a lot and finds it difficult to stop. It’s often seen as an addition and is linked with compulsive behaviour.

Often the condition is associated with those in jobs, but it can also be applied to those in university as well.

According to Epam, these are the signs you should look out for if you suspect you work too much.

  • You work more than planned/scheduled or what is expected of you.
  • You forget about other aspects of your life.
  • The amount you work affects your relationships.

Explaining these signs further, you should ask yourself if you stay late at the library to work, don’t socialise with friends or even forget to eat because of university work.

One of the biggest telltale signs of workaholism is a feeling of guilt and unease whenever you do step away from work.

Workaholism Is Linked To Mental Health

As the addition becomes a public concern, Medical Xpress reports on how working too much can lead to mental health issues.

They believe that it can lead to more concerning conditions such as depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Results of a study they reported on showed that those with jobs with high demands, such as the health sector, are more likely to become a workaholic.

Photo by Damir Samatkulov on Unsplash

This isn’t helped by the job climate, particularly at the moment when positions are at risk when praise and promotions are often given to those who exert themselves the hardest. Apply it to any other kind of addiction, when excessive consumption is made, and it sounds ridiculous. After all, you wouldn’t reward someone for drinking for 5 hours straight one evening.

So, although it is a compulsion, it is often not appreciated as such and it becomes harder to get out off. This is where the links to depression and anxiety come in; a fear of what happens if you do stop and the inability to do so.

How Does The Addiction Affect Students?

In the same way workaholism can be applied to jobs, it can be applied to university work. The higher the grade you earn, the more praise you receive. But to earn that grade you’re probably going to have to work harder and for longer than others.

Similarly to work placements; you want the experience and an education, so you do both. You don’t want to give up either because the end result will be beneficial to you, but you’re not leaving yourself time to socialise, eat or sleep.

It’s very easy to get bogged down with the need to constantly do assignments, compulsory reading, extra reading, volunteering and placements. We all want to give ourselves the best chance at our future, but that doesn’t mean compromising on our present. Sure, you should work hard and try your best, but you should be enjoying university life too. Workaholism and students are intrinsically linked unless you do something about it.

The slide from working too hard to anxiety and depression is not a long one. Check in with yourself and others frequently about the amount you do for your studies. Organise something fun and sociable each week to get you away from university work. Yes, it’s important, but it’s not everything. With everything that happens at university, your mental health can often be on the line, so make sure you’re protecting it. If you feel yourself slipping then reach out to family and friends who can help.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.