Friday, June 18, 2010

Hi! My Name is Colette and I'm a Workaholic...

The great thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is you can always be reached.

The bad thing about cell phones, smartphones and laptops is... you can ALWAYS be reached.

That makes truly getting away from work and everyday stresses all the more difficult. Especially when you are a freelance contractor who works from home (like me!). And it seems that I am not alone. According to a story in this week's Wall Street Journal, half of working Americans come back from vacations actually feeling rested and rejuvenated. 56 percent of workers say they need a vacation more than ever after they return because of the amount of work that has piled up in their absence.

A 2002 study in the Netherlands claimed to find that relaxation attempts even causes something they termed "leisure sickness" in 3% of our vacationing population. Symptoms of leisure sickness include fatigue, muscle pain, nausea and flu-like symptoms. Huh... who'd have thought that withdrawing from stress and relaxing would be such a painful experience? But for some people, it seems that removing stress from their daily environment is comparable to steroid withdrawal and may be the cause of dramatic mood swings and changes in glucose metabolism.

Bryan E. Robinson, author of "Chained to the Desk, a Guidebook for Workaholics," theorizes that workaholics are driven by low self-esteem and fear of inadequacy." He continues, ""For a lot of workaholics, work alleviates anxiety, and when you are not working, the anxiety bubbles up." Sadly, I can see apply both of those statements pretty accurately to my life. Especially having all that time to fill since my kids have left the nest.

I've been talking alot lately about achieving balance in my life and leaving behind my workaholic tendencies. It seems that this has been easier said than done! So in keeping with my workaholic nature... I've come up with a plan to achieve some balance. (Did I mention I am list happy too?!)

1. Learning something new. While it's good to get outside of the comfort workzone, I've acknowledged that exploding out of it from a 17 hour work day to doing NOTHING just ain't gonna happen. Finding something to stimulate the brain that is not work related will keep the mind busy on a more "fun" pursuit. (I've decided to relearn high school Spanish and keyboards. Let's just hope I don't get as obsessed about that as I am with my "job"! LOL!)
2. Have a plan, but be flexible. Having scheduled work hours (mostly to designate a stop time) is a good thing. But flexibility is important too in case someone calls one morning for a quick trip to the beach ;) After all, that's why I opted out of corporate America to begin this freelance journey!
3. Get physical. Our bodies were just never meant to sit at a desk for 12+ hours a day. I've recently begun starting my day with an hour of either aerobic exercise or weight training. Exercise releases endorphins to put you in a better mood, as well as burns off excess adrenaline and cortisol that result from your daily stress.
4. Breathe. I've decided to end my work day with some time to meditate. A period of separation (so to speak) to end the work day and begin relaxation time. What I used to use my daily commute home from the office for.
5. Practice mindfulness. Work just as hard at "not working" as you do at working. Quit judging yourself and setting the bar so high. Be aware of times you do that and ask why. Focus on the moment. Be objective in observing your behavior to learn why what you've accomplished is never enough.

So now that I have my new checklist... we'll see how it goes. Let me know what you think... and I'll keep you posted ;)


  1. Looks like an excellent checklist!! You know, these long days of yours, you can ask me to help and I will do what I can so you AREN'T wasting away in front of a monitor, so to speak...not that I have much room to talk I do the same thing!

    Now for the whole cellphone thing...NO KIDDING!! It's either no one calls, every one calls...or the wrong people call...never ends!

    Love ya!! I'll have to read your blog daily, it's definitely of interest!