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Workaholism and Chronic Pain

Take a look at the Workaholics Anonymous Brief Guide (pdf). In addition to the 12-steps (pretty much the same as A.A.’s, with “work” replacing “alcohol”) and a quiz (“How Do I Know if I’m a Workaholic?”), there’s Tools of Recovery list.  What’s especially striking about them to this reader is how completely they sync up with suggested approaches to undoing stress-related chronic pain.  Here’s a sampling:

Substituting We do not add a new activity without eliminating from our schedule one that demands equivalent time and energy.

Underscheduling We allow more time than we think we need for a task or trip, allowing a comfortable margin to accommodate the unexpected.

Playing We schedule time for play, refusing to let ourselves work non-stop. We do not make our play into a work project.

Concentrating We try to do one thing at a time.

Pacing We work at a comfortable pace and rest before we get tired. To remind ourselves, we check our level of energy before proceeding to our next activity.We do not get “wound up” in our work, so we don’t have to unwind.

Relaxing We do not yield to pressure from others or attempt to pressure others. We remain alert to the people and situations that trigger feelings of pressure in us. We become aware of our own actions, words, body sensations and feelings that tell us we are responding with pressure. When we feel energy building up, we stop; we reconnect with our Higher Power and others around us.

Accepting We accept the outcomes of our endeavors, whatever the results, whatever the timing. We know that impatience, rushing and insisting on perfect results only slow down our recovery. We are gentle with our efforts, knowing that our new way of living requires much practice.

Balancing We balance our involvement in work with our efforts to develop personal relationships, spiritual growth, creativity and playful attitudes.

A pretty good set of principles–workaholic, chronic pain-sufferer, or not.

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Posted by Will Baum, LCSW