Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: Don't be a workaholic

In a 24/7 world we are working all the time, while desperately searching for the child within who wants to play.

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November 17, 2005 18:14
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dr mike 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Dr. Mike Gropper is an American psychotherapist and marital therapist living in Ra'anana. For further details, see end of article. Have you seen the 1991 movie Hook? It is director Steven Spielberg's revisiting of James Barrie's delightful Peter Pan. Forty-year-old Peter (Robin Williams) is a workaholic lawyer with more affection for his cell phone than for his wife and his two children. When the family travels to England to visit Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith), Peter's son and daughter are kidnapped by the infamous Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Peter's faithful pal Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts), helps him to return to Neverland - "Second Star to the right and straight on till morning" - to the world Peter has forgotten. Peter, the 24/7 lawyer, must somehow remember his long forgotten boyhood in Neverland. At the end of the movie, we see that Peter's character has been dramatically transformed as he throws his cell phone into the snow. The above is a perfect example of life in a 24/7 demanding work world. Many of us can relate to the Peter described above, working all the time, while desperately searching for the child within (and I would add: adult) who wants to play and have fun and get away. Pressures of work are driving more people to become workaholics as the balance between careers and personal life becomes more and more blurred. I am speaking about working moms and dads, single parents, and young people just entering the work world of today. It seems that the work never stops. Joggers talk to their office as they run. Parents pushing baby strollers are answering work calls. People do business as they shop for groceries. Others stop their treadmill workout, designed to get their stress level down, to answer their cell phone. Even beach strollers yell into their cell phones above the sound of the surf when they should be listening to the crushing waves and drinking in the sun or watching the sun set. The corporate culprit The signs are everywhere; our culture is addicted to work. There are two sides of this problem that should be noted. For some, the corporate hi-tech global economy has made the world much more competive. Downsizing and layoffs make workers more competive and fearful of losing their job. The race is on to beat the competition, and companies simply demand that a central criterion for employment is a willingness to sacrifice a lot of your personal/family time and stay focused 24/7 on the company's mission. Part of the problem here is the new technology that has been created to make life easier actually doe the opposite. Email, cell phones, video-conferences eat up our time. The new technology demands that we create flashy websites, Power Point presentations, and desktop newsletters all by ourselves, and it has to be done yesterday. Because things go faster, we are expected to produce more in less time and spend more time doing more. The pressures of work and the long hours and the demand to be on-call 24/7 are making it more and more difficult for workers to find down time to meet their personal needs and the needs of their loved ones. The workaholic More people are using work as an escape. They simply can't cut back. They are addicted to work. Addiction experts call these people workaholics. Cardiologists call many of them Type A personalities. They simply can't shut off the compulsion to work all the time. Some of these people do not have friends outside of work. Many of these people seem to get more gratification from work instead of their home. These individuals derive almost all of their self-esteem from their jobs or careers. Their marital relationships are often strained, and their relationships with children often problematic because of a total lack of quality time spent with family members. It is not unusual to see the family members or one family member becoming depressed or turning to alcohol or drugs. The 24/7 corporation of today loves to recruit workaholics or turn others into workaholics. Work is important. We all need to pay the bills, but today's corporate world has made it more difficult to have time to be out of service. It is an essential part of managing one's life that one find ways to create a balance between work and personal, social, family, and recreational time. When people don't find the way or the time to balance out their personal needs against the demands at work, they often become depressed, anxious, develop health problems, have affairs, develop a food addiction, drink alcohol, or take drugs. Coping skills that take the pressure off

  • A good sleep every night (6-8 hours)
  • Eat a balanced diet, including a good breakfast to give you the energy needed to get the day started.
  • Connect emotionally to other family members before leaving the house by saying "good morning" and wishing them, spouse or children, a nice day.
  • Try to take breaks during the day to relax, meditate, get some fresh air and get your mind away from the work.
  • Learn to recognize when you need to be in the office longer hours and when you can limit the time spent there. There are never enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done, so give yourself a break, don't expect perfection.
  • Try to use problem solving to deal with work demands and when you feel overwhelmed, try some deep breathing to calm your self down.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes.
  • Do some type of aerobic exercise at least 3-4 times a week.
  • Each day, make sure you touch base and communicate with the people who are important in your social-personal life. Ask your spouse and your child/children how their day has been and listen attentively to their concerns and worries. It will also help you to get your mind off of your work.
  • Have a hobby i.e. reading, gardening, going to museums, collecting stamps, horseback riding.
  • If you feel always disorganized and this is a source of anxiety, see a therapist who can evaluate and see if you have adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Five percent of adults have this problem and many do not realize that it is a source of their stress.
  • Emotional problems complicate meeting work deadlines and tasks. If problems exist either with one self or with other family members, seek out professional guidance and get the help you need.
  • Take one day off each week and do no work at all. Shabbat is perfect for this. The 24/7 world we live in is a personal challenge to learn how to keep our lives in balance. Having meaningful work stimulates learning, exchange with others, and personal evolution. But, too much work can rob us of other important aspects of our humanity. Whether we have one week, one month or a one-day vacation, we must take time off from our daily routines to keep the spirit of adventure alive in our own lives. Life in Israel is fast-paced and stressful. Attending to the demands of work are important and can't be neglected if we are to keep our jobs or succeed in business, but it is equally important not to forget the need to attend to our physical and emotional health and the needs of those we love. * * * Previous columns: Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: More than just a little shy Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: Addictions Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: More on Marriage Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: Do you love me? Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: If it hurts, is it real? Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: A look at the meaning of narcissism Dr. Mike Gropper is an American trained psychotherapist and marital therapist. Contact him at Golan Center, Ahuza 198, Ra'anana, (09) 774 1913, or Shalom Mayer Center, Diskin Street 9A, Kiryat Wolfson, Jerusalem, (02) 563 6265, mikeruth@zahav.net.il Send your comments >>
    Cafe Oleh is the place where you can join in and be published. To send us your comments, article ideas, suggestions and community listings, click here. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive listings and Dr. Mike Gropper is an American psychotherapist and marital therapist living in Ra'anana. For further details, see end of article. Have you seen the 1991 movie Hook? It is director Steven Spielberg's revisiting of James Barrie's delightful Peter Pan. Forty-year-old Peter (Robin Williams) is a workaholic lawyer with more affection for his cell phone than for his wife and his two children. When the family travels to England to visit Granny Wendy (Maggie Smith), Peter's son and daughter are kidnapped by the infamous Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Peter's faithful pal Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts), helps him to return to Neverland - "Second Star to the right and straight on till morning" - to the world Peter has forgotten

    . Peter, the 24/7 lawyer, must somehow remember his long forgotten boyhood in Neverland. At the end of the movie, we see that Peter's character has been dramatically transformed as he throws his cell phone into the snow. The above is a perfect example of life in a 24/7 demanding work world. Many of us can relate to the Peter described above, working all the time, while desperately searching for the child within (and I would add: adult) who wants to play and have fun and get away. Pressures of work are driving more people to become workaholics as the balance between careers and personal life becomes more and more blurred. I am speaking about working moms and dads, single parents, and young people just entering the work world of today. It seems that the work never stops. Joggers talk to their office as they run. Parents pushing baby strollers are answering work calls. People do business as they shop for groceries. Others stop their treadmill workout, designed to get their stress level down, to answer their cell phone. Even beach strollers yell into their cell phones above the sound of the surf when they should be listening to the crushing waves and drinking in the sun or watching the sun set. The corporate culprit The signs are everywhere; our culture is addicted to work. There are two sides of this problem that should be noted. For some, the corporate hi-tech global economy has made the world much more competive. Downsizing and layoffs make workers more competive and fearful of losing their job. The race is on to beat the competition, and companies simply demand that a central criterion for employment is a willingness to sacrifice a lot of your personal/family time and stay focused 24/7 on the company's mission. Part of the problem here is the new technology that has been created to make life easier actually doe the opposite. Email, cell phones, video-conferences eat up our time. The new technology demands that we create flashy websites, Power Point presentations, and desktop newsletters all by ourselves, and it has to be done yesterday. Because things go faster, we are expected to produce more in less time and spend more time doing more. The pressures of work and the long hours and the demand to be on-call 24/7 are making it more and more difficult for workers to find down time to meet their personal needs and the needs of their loved ones. The workaholic More people are using work as an escape. They simply can't cut back. They are addicted to work. Addiction experts call these people workaholics. Cardiologists call many of them Type A personalities. They simply can't shut off the compulsion to work all the time. Some of these people do not have friends outside of work. Many of these people seem to get more gratification from work instead of their home. These individuals derive almost all of their self-esteem from their jobs or careers. Their marital relationships are often strained, and their relationships with children often problematic because of a total lack of quality time spent with family members. It is not unusual to see the family members or one family member becoming depressed or turning to alcohol or drugs. The 24/7 corporation of today loves to recruit workaholics or turn others into workaholics. Work is important. We all need to pay the bills, but today's corporate world has made it more difficult to have time to be out of service. It is an essential part of managing one's life that one find ways to create a balance between work and personal, social, family, and recreational time. When people don't find the way or the time to balance out their personal needs against the demands at work, they often become depressed, anxious, develop health problems, have affairs, develop a food addiction, drink alcohol, or take drugs. Coping skills that take the pressure off
  • A good sleep every night (6-8 hours)
  • Eat a balanced diet, including a good breakfast to give you the energy needed to get the day started.
  • Connect emotionally to other family members before leaving the house by saying "good morning" and wishing them, spouse or children, a nice day.
  • Try to take breaks during the day to relax, meditate, get some fresh air and get your mind away from the work.
  • Learn to recognize when you need to be in the office longer hours and when you can limit the time spent there. There are never enough hours in the day to do what needs to be done, so give yourself a break, don't expect perfection.
  • Try to use problem solving to deal with work demands and when you feel overwhelmed, try some deep breathing to calm your self down.
  • Don't smoke cigarettes.
  • Do some type of aerobic exercise at least 3-4 times a week.
  • Each day, make sure you touch base and communicate with the people who are important in your social-personal life. Ask your spouse and your child/children how their day has been and listen attentively to their concerns and worries. It will also help you to get your mind off of your work.
  • Have a hobby i.e. reading, gardening, going to museums, collecting stamps, horseback riding.
  • If you feel always disorganized and this is a source of anxiety, see a therapist who can evaluate and see if you have adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Five percent of adults have this problem and many do not realize that it is a source of their stress.
  • Emotional problems complicate meeting work deadlines and tasks. If problems exist either with one self or with other family members, seek out professional guidance and get the help you need.
  • Take one day off each week and do no work at all. Shabbat is perfect for this. The 24/7 world we live in is a personal challenge to learn how to keep our lives in balance. Having meaningful work stimulates learning, exchange with others, and personal evolution. But, too much work can rob us of other important aspects of our humanity. Whether we have one week, one month or a one-day vacation, we must take time off from our daily routines to keep the spirit of adventure alive in our own lives. Life in Israel is fast-paced and stressful. Attending to the demands of work are important and can't be neglected if we are to keep our jobs or succeed in business, but it is equally important not to forget the need to attend to our physical and emotional health and the needs of those we love. * * * Previous columns: Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: More than just a little shy Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: Addictions Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: More on Marriage Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: Do you love me? Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: If it hurts, is it real? Psych-Talk with Dr. Mike: A look at the meaning of narcissism Dr. Mike Gropper is an American trained psychotherapist and marital therapist. Contact him at Golan Center, Ahuza 198, Ra'anana, (09) 774 1913, or Shalom Mayer Center, Diskin Street 9A, Kiryat Wolfson, Jerusalem, (02) 563 6265, mikeruth@zahav.net.il Send your comments >>
    Cafe Oleh is the place where you can join in and be published. To send us your comments, article ideas, suggestions and community listings, click here. In the meantime, check out our comprehensive listings and calendar services.ARGET="_blank">calendar services.

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