Being a workaholic is one of the few addictions openly accepted (and even encouraged) by our culture. If you're feeling pressured, and it's having a negative impact on you emotionally, it might be time to step back and reevaluate your priorities. Here are some practical stategies you can implement in your life so you can find relief:
1. Schedule regular down time.
Work is meant to be performed in rhythm with rest. Just as your body needs rest to recover each day, your emotional and relational life needs downtime as well. While the Sabbath is not rigorously prescribed in the New Testament, its principle and benefit still apply. According to Jesus:
"The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27).
It is to your benefit that you find time to rest. Being obsessed with success and overworking in one area of your life will take away success from other areas of your life. Look over your calendar and set aside a whole day where you can rest and relax. Don't check your email and don't make business calls that day.
During the rest of the week, also set aside a few hours at the end of each day where you can recharge. Don't fill your downtime with watching television or browsing the net. Rekindle a hobby you were passionate about as a child, or discover a new one. Set aside time to read your bible, pray, meditate, and reflect.
2. Uncommit yourself.
But what if you don't have the time to schedule a day off or have extra time to recharge? Well maybe it's time to look over your calendar and let go of certain commitments that have been filling up your schedule. I always suggest trying to come up up with five things you can delete from your weekly agenda. A good place to start is identifying commitments that are strictly voluntary and aren't required. Maybe it's too many church volunteer opportunities, or an extra work project you've taken on. I've attached a worksheet at the end of this article that can help you journal your thoughts and process any emotions that may hinder you from letting go.
3. Set boundaries.
Stress doesn't just emerge from the amount of activiy one is doing, but also from getting entangled in other people's problems. Be careful when other people come to you to discuss their personal or work issues. While it's feels admirable to be supportive, the best thing you can do is encourage the person in their own ability to handle the problem. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells the Galatians to "carry each other's burdens" (6:2) but also that "each one should carry their own load" (6:5). There has to be a balance where you are willing to listen and help others, but also encourage them to own their personal issues—without taking responsibility for problems that are not your own.
Investigate your life to see if there are other people who are leaning on you too much and are draining your emotional resources. Learn to set boundaries and don't be afraid to say "no," even when it's hard. In every decision, you have to say "no" to one thing in order to say "yes" to another. Do what is best for you, your family, and your relationship with God before taking on the world.
Below is a printable worksheet, what I call an "Uncommitment Form" that guides you through the process of letting go of unnecessary commitments so you can be more successful in other areas of your life:
Tres Adames, MDiv, BCPC provides Christian counseling in Peoria, Arizona for adults, teens, couples, and families. He specializes in helping those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-esteem, anger, addiction, codependency, and relationship issues. If you would like to contact Tres or set up an appointment, visit his contact page.