Sometimes when activities are meeting some need other than those they are intended to meet, you can become attached or addicted to that behavior. You develop a need for it to perform some function that regulates how you feel. For example, some people develop an inordinate need for food when they are feeling lonely of stressed, and they cannot stop eating when they are in an emotional need state. Others act out impulsively with sex to make themselves feel better. Some may overspend. Others drink too much. Still other people work to avoid other issues or feeling states in their lives. I have had many executives tell me that there are times when they know they escape into work because of how something is going at home or in the rest of life.
If you cannot be away from email for some period of time to do something vital in life, like connect with your loved ones or take a walk or play golf, then something is wrong. If you cannot go to a social dinner without checking email Instagram or your text messages, something is wrong. If you can't go on vacation without constantly checking in or posting every photo you take, are you really on vacation? What about at home when you are supposed to be having downtime?
If you want to find out if someone is an alcoholic, tell them to go for a certain period without drinking and see if they can do it, and what happens when they do. Can they do it? Do they have withdrawals? You can learn a lot that way. So, test yourself. Are you capable of turning your email off for a while at work? Are you capable of leaving your phone on airplane mode when you’re spending time with your family? Or to enjoy some time catching up with a friend? Are you capable of going an entire day or weekend without checking your instagram or facebook?
If you cannot do that, and do it without withdrawals, then you might not be checking email or social media after all. You may be running from - or avoiding - something else.
If you find that to be true, listen to that awareness and face the issue. Talk to someone you can open up about it. Put the time and work in to figure out what the root of the issue is and how to resolve it.