Workaholism, the obsessive compulsion to work above and beyond the reasonable expectations of one’s job, often leads to higher levels of work stress. Both workaholism and work stress are associated with negative health and organization outcomes.

Although workaholics are less likely to engage in leisurely activities during nonwork time, a new study published in The Career Development Quarterly indicates that they stand to benefit from increased leisurely participation.

The study surveyed 367 full-time employees asking questions to measure levels of workaholism, work stress, leisure activity participation (specifically mindfulness, physical activity and vacation), and motivation for engaging in leisure activity. The strongest motivators for engaging in mindfulness and vacation were mental health and relaxation while physical activity was primarily motivated by physical health and appearance. Regardless of the type of leisure activity, participation in a nonwork pursuit seems to improve work stress and workaholism.

Key Points:
• Leisure activities (mindfulness, physical activity, and vacation) weaken the relationship between workaholism and work stress. In other words, participating in leisurely activities during nonwork time helps reduce work-related stress for workaholics.
• Conversely, not participating in leisure activities worsens work stress for workaholics.
• Workplaces should encourage participation in leisure activity and consider adopting policies that promote engagement in nonwork pursuits (for example, limiting the use of company electronics and work email during vacation time).