fbpx Smiley face

Workaholism and anhedonia in hospitality


Introduction to the topic

La anhedonia It is the inability to enjoy the good things that life offers us: family, friends, job, leisure…People who do not want to vacation or minimize the most, often they suffer from this syndrome: They are unable to enjoy other activities not related to their work. This syndrome occurs in all employment sectors, Also in Hospitality. Is a difficult problem to detect that can manifest itself through a distress which extends beyond six months continued, especially, between staff no record.

People do not workaholics, We can spend hours on our professions, but the result of this effort is personal and job satisfaction. This being so move to other areas: we have family life, do sport or stayed with friends without the living mind chained to work worries.

Conversely, workaholics people feel an obsessive passion, named workaholism and coined by psychologist Wayne Oates, what in 1971 he described in his autobiographical book Confessions of a Workaholic ". The workaholic working far more than 40 weekly hours set by law, You can not stop and, if it does, he feels guilty. Trapped in their lists, enjoying your work before returning to the burden of what needs to be done. Not because it works much addicted, but because it dominates the urge to work and does not allow your mind to rest.

Working hours mean, in all cases, increased performance. further, the workaholic is usually a troublemaker working together: He lives in his world, It stressed and irritable and does not usually delegate, so you have conflicts with peers. On the other hand, anxiety leads to loops that do not let you see the solutions to the problem.

since HR, They gave an ultimatum to Manuel García (fictitious name) as head of sales at a chain. Excessive perfectionism made the trade would leave after a few months of being under his orders. "I love my work, It is the most important thing in my life ", He said. The word "vacation" was taboo for him: "What do I do with all that free time?». I had to learn to disconnect from work and connect to itself, start doing running and win back your partner who, for months, he felt transparent.

Causes of workaholism

All studies indicate that, to be a work alcoholic, Several factors should be, namely:

  • Have a dependent personality, in this case, the efficient completion of the task and the recognition of their superiors, side or collaborators, as a source of self-esteem.
  • On the other hand, These people develop a kind of dysfunctional perfectionism by wondering, continually, if they are doing well, which increases their insecurity.
  • They may have obsessive-compulsive traits, They give them many turns their decisions, They are exhausted and return to work to calm: is the loop neurotic.
  • Usually ambitious and competitive people, but their expectations are so high, which are difficult to reach. They suffer from excess responsibility for what it costs them to delegate and have a masochistic trait: assume the workload with resignation and irresponsibility toward their health.

In general, There are two profiles of people addicted to work:

  • Which they are highly sought after for its effectiveness and involved with his career, where the component is greater narcissistic.
  • Those who fear to face every day to work, burdened by doubts tasks and to perform them properly, in a timely manner. This conflict difficult for them to achieve their achievements and, in the case of serious addiction, It leads to fail again and again.

Often they report, in his childhood and youth, the only way to get praise from their parents was to demonstrate effort and sacrifice, but at the cost of repressing their own dreams.

Another seed is very demanding in educational institutions, that puts success even at the expense of the health of people. In China, Japan and South Korea, There are nurseries "high performance" that prepare children to be ultra competitive in subsequent educational levels and, later, in companies where they provide their professional services. Only those lucky enough to pass a test, They can access high-performance childcare. The motto of this type of educational institutions is "forbidden fail". Also in the US, There are kindergartens where children must pass an exam to access them. Many adults do not exceed.

In general, workaholism functions as those fish traps to catch octopuses, once inside they can no longer leave them. differentiate three phases, we explain below:

In the first phase, we find a large door that invites workaholic happen. He dominates his sense of capacity and worth, the heads need not be imposed because employees are left after the schedule voluntarily.

In the Monday, space narrows and get caught up in their lists. They realize they have to stop for your mental health is not affected, but the brain is obsessed with the pending task and forget family and friends: "I like the job!, they call them. Nicotine and coffee (and other substances) They are become his faithful companions. If a study 2002 showed that leaders and managers using tranquilizers (hashish) and stimulants (cocaine), from the crisis 2007, drug use among managers from all sectors (led by HOSTELERÍA) employment increased by fear of losing.

In the third and final phase, physical symptoms appear: stomach ulcer, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems: it is estimated that the 25% of coronary patients between 40 Y 60 years are workaholics.

In some first world countries, as UK has coined the Saturday Syndrome, which it affects only certain workers in their spare time: migraines, migraines… Your brain is not used to rest and thus reacts to the inactivity. At this point, it is difficult to escape the trap without outside help.


In addition to physical symptoms, own sedentary lifestyle, workaholism also carries emotional and relational symptoms. Let's look at each of them.

emotional symptoms. The workaholic has anxiety about the many pending tasks that usually. When you stop working, It has the feeling of emptiness because your mind is not accustomed to relax. It is shown cranky and irritable with family and friends when they can not work, as an alcoholic in withdrawal crisis.

Their self-esteem is based, exclusively, in their work, why can not lower our guard and relaxation is elusive. A very significant symptom of workaholism is the anhedonia or inability to enjoy the good things in life, in any of its many manifestations: family, food, beverage, friends, travels, sports…

Sara was born in 1997 and is the generation millennial. According to a study Project Time Off, people his age are "martyrs of work", as they move in a precarious employment context and are afraid to be replaced, so it is easy to fall into the conduct of workaholism. He is learning to not be self-demanding and relax when you are not working.

Project Time Off He interviewed 5.641 employees working full-time and obtained some compensation for your holidays. He 48% those born between 1981 Y 1997 respondents have the perception that it is good that your bosses see them as martyrs, compared to only 39% in case of generation X (1965-1980) and a 20% in the case of Baby Boomers (1946-1964), considers that image of his superiors as positive. The same report also states that a 43% of the martyrs of work are millennials, well above other age ranges.

relational symptoms. Family and friends resent that exclusive dedication to work, not only for the little time he spends workaholic, but because he thinks that period steal everything you have to do! They are become selfish and relate only to the people who can contribute something to their work and react with irritability and anger at minutest details.

In consultation, are couples or children (or if you have employees) those who come for help exhausted by the tense relationship with a workaholic Fix it, please! in look. One of these people went to marriage counseling with his wife. He worked from sunup to sundown and when you get home, after dinner, again connect to your office on line. Weekends plunged into an emotional lethargy where just feel like being at home. I had to connect with your personal discomfort, Refine your working hours and install the radical technological break at home.

Solutions to account

The profiles more likely to be workaholics are men and women between 30 Y 50 years. Some professions are more vulnerable: artists stress creativity, executives do not delegate any sector, politicians seeking power by implication, the helping professions others, the risk and security services, journalists by the stress of daily chronic and housewives by boredom and loneliness.

Then, some tools for individual and family are proposed to improve the quality of life of workaholics.


  • Stopping thoughts about working with positive instructions as "tomorrow is another day" or "I'll take care of labor problems only during working hours".
  • The technique of mandatory pleasurable activities. To learn how to distract List 20 rewarding activities and make "compulsorily" one a day.
  • Using the bodily senses. Eat slowly feeling the flavors of food and drinks odors, listen to music or watch appreciating tones observing a painting colors.
  • technological disconnection. Use technology only during working hours, Do not sleep with your mobile near the computer and not take holiday.
  • Find new hobbies. Dare to make a new activity that does not know; DIY or chess are waiting.
  • Practice relaxation techniques like yoga, taichí or breathing. Start on vacation and never leave more.


  • not improvise. Organize a list of activities and defined plans for the weekend, bridges and holidays.
  • Establish standards for the use of technology, hours of rest and leisure.
  • Help your partner to get distracted. If you speak of work, tell her working hours is over. Admittedly addicts, If they feel valued, better accept the new proposals.

Work is a source of gratification that provides financial compensation, promotes social recognition and self-worth. But we can get out of hand. If this is the case, I suggest the Italian recipe sweet nothing: If you want to work and develop their creativity tomorrow, Enjoy doing nothing today.

Passion or addiction

There is a psychological model to explain two types of passion: the passion for work (positive passion), differentiating addiction (obsessive passion). It is the Dual Model of Passion. An activity becomes positive passion when part of personal identity: for example, as a teacher active since 1980, this profession is part of my personality, It has shaped my identity and is a core value in my life, to which I devote much time and energy.

further, to certain groups of students, It gives me state flow, pleasant feeling that time passes very fast and we do not realize that the activity we do and we love challenges us at the same time. But this does not mean that continue practicing combat sports since 50 years. This relaxes me and gives me the energy to face classes five hours, long trips…

Conversely, the obsessive passion It is not free and does not allow adapt. Activity produces self-esteem, but no identity. Because, stop means that the image itself crumbles. You have to work for someone, an inner tyrant tells us that keeps us breathing.

The role of technology

The first world is bipolar. Driving currents reconcile work with family and personal life coexist with each day devoted more time to work as a source of satisfaction (or addiction).In this sense, technology plays a key role for decanting things in one direction or another. We work in a context of globalization where Hospitality professionals They need to be connected 24/7/365. Many people suffer from this need for connection: requests for work at any time, Unfiltered or control, personal problems because these requests can interfere with family life and health risks not being able to rest or have leisure.

Technology helps us and threatens us at the same time. Because, the "digital disconnect", regulate and limit the available times for work and rest, it is necessary. As the overexploited land, fallow need. Companies in our sector need to encourage the commitment of its employees to work better and this can only be achieved if your health care also.

summer depression

The summer season is associated with happiness. However, for a small percentage of the population, Depression lounger It occurs in summer. Something strange since, even those few who become depressed during the summer, They are the same as for eleven months a year wait, as most, the arrival of the holidays. Austrian psychologists who coined the term "Depression lounger" They attributed to the inability to get rid of stress accumulated during the year.

to avoid, it is convenient:

  • Put limits. Set schedules using laptop and mobile phone.
  • be realistic. Planning a vacation without too much activity and agreed with the family in order to avoid misunderstandings.
  • delude. Recover friends with whom we feel good, read books that make us disconnect and moderate exercise.
  • respected. Remember that the holidays should only be interrupted by serious family problems.

Deckchair depression usually comes after a year with very difficult goals to achieve, both at work and in the family, a sobresfuerzo that is leading many people to take antidepressants and anxiolytics. In the professional scope, They have fired people and increased sales targets. Two people do the work of three, thus increasing anxiety to reach the goals set.


Belén Barreiro, former president of the Center for Sociological Research, He explains in his book "The society we want. digital, analog and impoverished, the way the content has changed completely consumed by the generalization of digital technologies.

Most people woke up to the alarm mobile, we use it as radio and MP3, we are guided by GPS, connect with your partner or friends, we take pictures on weekends and holidays and share in Instagram, We write a tweet or read a digital newspaper. Spanish newspapers only produce hundreds of daily news.

This expert advises us not wait for the summer to disconnect: “A few years ago, used to associate a particular work environment, today is no longer the case. We can work remotely, on the train or even from home, Thus, to the extent that we can, you have to set limits“. Maybe off the mobile phone is too ambitious, indicates, but it is in our hand the search for balance to survive infoxication, new concept that refers to the “information overload caused by the profusion of content”, define Alfons Cornella, founder Infonomía and author 2003 of "infoxication: seeking an order information ".

“The good thing is the balance. Not to saturate, I advise enjoy everything we do, although not shoot and share instantly on networks; socializing at dinner and put the phone in airplane mode to not disturb us, because if something important happens we will end enterándonos, and left the phone at home if we go to the beach”.

“Continuous work activity may involve a high level of excitement, anguish and feeling no adaptation”, SUPPORT Gloria Tresserras, Neurologist of Imecba, Top Doctors Medical Center. It is called job stress. “Our brain consumes 20% energy produced by the body, so it is important to rest the mind“, Add.

About the Author

Undergraduate and graduate professor at various Spanish and Latin American universities (Mexico, Costa Rica and Ecuador). corporate trainer specializing in management skills: recruitment and selection of talent, weather, stress, team leadership, negotiation, Training of trainers, emotional intelligence ...


Leave a comment