Hooked on hand sanitizer? Can’t sleep without the glow of a smartphone screen nearby? Binge-watching Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad until both eyes glaze over? A new type of consumer has emerged in recent years—one raised by streaming devices and nurtured by unlimited access to news and information at the click of a remote or tap of a touchscreen. But, when does an otherwise healthy habit lead to an unhealthy obsession? Typically, if one is turning to a substance or activity to regulate mood or emotional state, it is probably a sign of an unhealthy compulsive reliance. According to a recent University of Cambridge study, certain ritualized behaviors develop into obsessions when they become so excessive that they interfere with daily life.
From counting calories to updating statuses on social media, these seemingly harmless routines can easily become fixations if they go unchecked. In many cases, compulsive behaviors can result in frequent headaches, stress and even insomnia. Not sure if a certain behavior is having adverse physical affects? Try going a full week without a certain substance or behavior, and look out for any noticeable changes in physical state, stress levels, or sleep patterns.
Is a certain behavior alienating loved ones? Affecting your ability to be present, without distraction, for family and friends? These may all be signs of an unhealthy obsession, compulsive reliance, or addiction. More often than not, the closest family members and friends of an individual who engages in such behaviors are affected most deeply. If an obsession or dependency is undermining emotional connection, intimacy, and trust, it is important to be aware of the underlying issue and take appropriate action steps for positive change.
For the most part, the office is a place teeming with habit and ritual. But, what happens when deadlines change, meetings get postponed and new projects arise? While most are able to adjust to the fluid nature of business, others plagued by persistent thoughts and recurring obsessive behaviors may find adjustment difficult. Obsessive behaviors at work may present as excessive checking or repeating, lack of cooperation and issues concentrating or communicating. While managers and supervisors are not responsible for assessing or diagnosing employee issues, they can consult with the employee assistance program to professionally address concerns.