Workaholismus ist das neue Selbstwertgefühl!

Workaholism – is the new self-esteem?

Does workaholism replace many people’s self-esteem, and does climbing the career ladder through overtime actually boost it? The inspiration for this article struck me while reading a piece titled “Sitting is the New Smoking” in a professional magazine. It emphasised how daily hours of sitting lead to inactivity, which, over time, causes typical health issues.

But what is measured in various studies, proven and demonstrated by statistics time and again, as the biggest thief of energy and health? It will hardly surprise anyone: Stress! A term or a description of a state that everyone defines slightly differently for themselves. Yes, those who sit a lot, smoke, eat poorly, sleep badly or little, and carry within themselves a mental costume resembling a battlefield, stress their health, that is known to everyone. Or is it?

Was Stress für den Einzelnen genau ist, wird immer durch die persönliche Wahrnehmung bestimmt. Demnach setzt sich diese auch für jeden Menschen individuell aus unterschiedlichsten Stressoren und Einflüssen zusammen. Arbeitssucht neudeutsch “Workaholismus” gehört für viele nicht zum Stressspektrum. Oft erst dann, wenn längere Einwirkzeit von Stress auf Körper, Geist und Seele physische und psychische Schäden hinterlassen haben!

What exactly stress is for each individual is always determined by personal perception. Accordingly, it is also consists, individually for each person, of a variety of stressors and influences. Work addiction, nowadays referred to as “workaholism,” is by many not considered part of their spectrum of stress. Often, that happens only when the prolonged exposure of stress on the body, mind, and soul have left physical and psychological damage behind!

The boundaries between eustress and distress are fluid

Often, the boundaries between positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress) are fluid, and for many, crossing them goes unnoticed. When stress, unhealthy lifestyle, and lack of movement come together, it becomes truly dangerous for one’s health. The symptoms of chronic stress can vary, and they manifest differently in each affected individual.

No wonder, because under stress, the body is subjected to a “flood of adrenaline” and a state of constant alertness. Recovery and regeneration are pushed far away due to the inability to “switch off.” Chronic stress manifests itself through various symptoms. Inner restlessness, exhaustion and depressive moods, cognitive impairments, pain, sleep problems, low resilience, lack of drive, digestive issues, irritability, are some of such complaints.

When we consider the reasons for today’s cases of occupational disabilities and exiting the workforce, mental illnesses or nervous disorders now rank first with 28.67%! This displaces back and musculoskeletal disorders, which had been at the forefront for many decades.

Stress resulting from work addiction, an unhealthy diet and a lack of movement create the number 1 health killer!

Many of these illnesses have been nurtured and cultivated by a multifaceted “nerve-wracking sensory overload.” Furthermore, it can be observed that for many people, alongside work addiction, there also exist a frenzy of leisure activities, a free-time-actionism, aimed at suppressing inner emptiness. Artificially inflated to-do lists and a rampant obsession with optimisation are misused as a barrier against a clarity-bringing silence.

Here you can find this article in the ShapeUp Magazine!

Whether “homegrown” or external, emotional and/or structural in terms of time, stress is steadily growing into a major health issue for society as a whole. Some, due to the war in their minds, are faced with the insurmountable task of having to manage their daily lives, which they eventually become unable to handle – both professionally and personally. Now, what does a fitness trainer, who earns his bread and butter through “physical training,” have to do with societal and health policy issues?

As we all know, the fish always stinks from the head down, and the body can only follow a mind that has been properly set up inside the head. As a long-time personal trainer for executives, entrepreneurs, and other creative minds, I quickly arrived at the truly important “core life issues” within a good training-team-bond with my clients.

The underlying structures of the client’s unwanted behaviours demands much more from the mental coach and behavioural therapist than from the sports animator. The consideration of dietary habits and externally motivated training sessions would be a superficial and too narrowly focused approach in a personal coaching session aimed at promoting health.

Less is more and in stillness lies strength

The interpretation of the entirety of a person, as well as the promotion of their awareness and mindfulness, are primary tasks of today’s modern personal trainers. To address the aforementioned negative influences on health, sports and healthy nutrition remain essential tools. However, they are not the only ones. Only those who set up their priorities in the right order and honestly reflect on, rethink, and adapt their behaviours, their lifestyle, and work habits can become physically and mentally fit.

When, after close analysis completely overworked workaholics, stimulated by an ever-decreasing sense of well-being, come to me with the request, “make me fit,” it’s as if they’re saying, “pour oil onto my fire.” With managers who have to “cut out” time for training from their schedules twice a week (original term), purely physical training would be an enormous additional burden and rather counterproductive. It’s necessary to readjust all the machine’s valves and the onboard computer, not just the fuel injection pump, which I’ll explain a little further.

Being permanently strong is impossible, only someone who isn’t constantly weakening themselves can truly be strong

Too much is too much, even for the strongest, bursting with creativity, always cheerful, smiling away all burdens, and blessed with all skills super manager. The circle closes: Workaholism is addictive behaviour and self-induced stress, which derives its impulse from an exaggerated sense of self and expectations from the environment. Of course, external control in hierarchical relationships can trigger a very high stress impulse. But why do many self-employed people experience similar issues?

Many people reduce their self-worth and the purpose of their existence to measurable “work performance” in a performance-driven society, which produces many systemic performance flaws. Unfortunately, in our culture, people are conditioned from childhood to strive for performance and are sent into life with the suggestion: “You only have worth, and will only receive care, attention, and recognition when you achieve a certain performance.”

Workaholism – is performance alone enough for fulfilment?

But performance alone, which is supposed to manifest itself through social status and monetary growth, often does not bring satisfaction and happiness if fulfilment is lacking. Success without inner fulfillment is not success! “Marble palaces,” swimming pools, along with a fleet of cars certainly don’t protect against inner loneliness, lack of purpose, and physical depletion. And so, many get lost in their search.

Many wear constantly being overworked like a trophy in the form of a huge antler, visible to all. There’s a deceptively thin line between heroism, societal recognition, and the burnouts and heart attacks that afflict the “high achievers” in this country, which are unfairly labeled as weakness. Constantly carrying the burden of performance turns into a heavy load for many people!

Those who constantly drive in the red zone are damaging their emotional and consequently their physical engine!

Recently, BMW’ CEO and manager, the 49 year old Harald Krüger collapsed during a presentation at the IAA right on stage. It was attributed to a circulatory weakness, and it was casually mentioned by BMW circles that his condition was stable and not a cause for concern. Not a cause for concern when a seasoned man in his prime collapses due to circulatory weakness “purely by chance”?

Maybe, and it is to be hoped that the good man is already recovering from an such an apparent symptom, behind which lies much more. But what are cause and effect, and what is the causal chain’s conclusion, for the individual and society?

These questions and the resulting conclusions are rarely discussed in executive boardrooms or glossy management magazines for the “promotion of humanitarian capital.” Often, empathy is displaced here, with a simple switch from loincloths to pinstripes, and the fighting goes on even more maliciously and ruthlessy than that of the Neanderthals.

Chasing the faster, higher, further, and endless growth at any price causes societal problems  elsewhere. Like when insurance companies have to cough up money to fix the mess caused by our relentless pursuit of progress. When something keeps growing in one place, it creates a deficit somewhere else, and lots of folks are okay with sacrificing their health in the process.

A person’s worth isn’t defined by society but by themselves, that’s the only way to achieve true ‘self worth’!

What truly creates meaning in life, and who actually determines that meaning and our self-worth? And: I find questions on why I do something or another to be incredibly important nowadays, more so than engaging in a ‘superficial activated movement unit’. The search for meaning doesn’t have to be found in an esoterically tinged ‘Vision Quest’ or in spiritual chanting groups, nor does it need to be induced by profound experiences or key moments.

Even if the indomitable alpha figures of this republic refuse to listen until they have a heart attack: resilience to stress primarily comes from a simple “less is more” and “strength lies in tranquility.” Taking a break or journeying inward is effective enough! Then there’ll be enough time and energy for exercise programs that can truly act as stress buffers.

Exercise, a balanced diet, and a sensible balance between stress and relaxation are health prevention measures and enhance stress resistance!

What are we do to? Before any initial steps, a close examination of ourselves is crucial! If a trainer themselves is under pressure, feeling unbalanced, experiencing inner turmoil – yes, stress – they should address their own issues before subjecting clients to them. Word and action in one’s own affairs must be congruent for the sake of credibility.

It’s an overall very complex issue, where as trainers, we must guide our clients from the problem to the solution with the utmost sensitivity and empathetic communication. Ideally, we do this before pushing our clients further into burnout with overwhelming training.

Involving a generalist-minded physician who, before any training begins, assesses especially middle aged people in regards to their ‘heart and kidneys’ and measures stress markers,, only demonstrates a good trainer’s high competence. The next step is conducting a detailed mental analysis of our clients’ important aspects of their lives, aiming to gain insight into their personal value scale and time structure.

A simple training plan as the quick-fix solution prescribed from the outside would certainly be too simplified of an approach and would disregard the overall condition. What’s crucial is taking on self-responsibility in the process of reorientation. Initially, the client needs training in creating a new mindset and action structure to develop stress competence and stress management. They must create their own insight, take charge of managing its implementation, and find the solution— their solution— from their own inner drive.

Questions are better than quick answers

Asking the “novice athlete” open-ended questions, all starting with W, ultimately aims to reveal how deeply the client is entrenched in the “stress hamster wheel,” making it the most promising approach. Questions like “What are you doing this for? When do you rest? How do you rest? What needs to change? When should it change? How do you want to feel?” are such solution-oriented core questions. By not automatically or forcibly providing the answer to the client, it naturally guides them toward self-reflection.

In order to install a “Future Pace,” a changed positive vision of the future, in the client, it’s necessary to mobilise their powers of visualisation. Awakening these powers is crucial for their ability to imagine something different from the burdensome present. In light of the mentioned approaches, it’s important for the trainer, if they intend to sustain themselves in the market long-term, to learn how to implement mental coaching and communication techniques to be able to meet the growing demands in the future.

Besides resource-oriented coaching, dietary modifications, and health-oriented strength and endurance training, providing clients with “deceleration tools” is another essential measure. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly important to introduce our clients to progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, self-hypnosis, autogenic training, or similar techniques, and guide them accordingly. Clients need to relearn how to “reconnect” and tune into their own needs.

For that, the turbulent and inscrutable fragments of thought need to settle to the bottom of one’s glass to regain clarity and see the bottom clearly again. As the highly esteemed business coach Stephane Etrillard puts it: “If you, like many others right now, wonder how much longer you can keep going because you simply can’t handle it anymore, I urge you to drastically decelerate your life. Take a break to reflect and reset the course of your life. Through calmness and self-reflection, answers to many questions of meaning often emerge.”

 “Lots of work” and work as an addiction, – a differentiation

Asking “Why” five times in a row, starting from the initial question and following up on each answer, reveals the mentioned structural depth and inspiration behind our actions. This approach leads us to the core of our motive and its value in life. If someone still believes that their old ways of acting and living are fulfilling after this process, unfortunately will have to continue “busting their a…” until they become wise through damage.

On the internet, there are several meaningful questionnaires that can serve as guidelines for us to determine whether someone is just working a lot or if they actually have a work addiction. This helps differentiate between workaholics and those who simply work long hours.

There are many effective methods and mental training techniques that can help our clients find their way out. However, as trainers, we should honestly assess our competencies based on our education and experience to determine if we have a real chance of genuinely helping our clients. If there’s any sense of uncertainty or suspicion that medical conditions could be present, that’s a “no-go”! Such situations also reveal the maturity of a trainer, who should then refer the client to a more suitable colleague or a physician.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but requires behavioural training

That’s how we ensure the client is in the best hands! This way, we all contribute to an honest shared responsibility for genuine customer satisfaction, the enhancement of quality, and ultimately, the positive image of our profession. Everything suggests that in the future, it will no longer be enough to constantly expand our training equipment and programs with the latest exercises just to achieve a higher fun factor.

Changes in recent years indicate that as trainers, we will be called upon to prepare ourselves for a great deal of work in the broad fields of “stress management” and mental training. This also promotes the crucial aspect of lifelong learning for us as trainers! soulboxer🥊🙏❤️