Maybe he'll spend his days firing footballs through a tire swing in the backyard.

Perhaps he'll tidy up his New York City penthouse — lingering on the market for over $17 million — and hold an open house.

Come next Sunday night, he might even hit the couch with a big tub of avocado ice cream, watching the Patriots game like the rest of us (sort of).

But for New England's best-known workaholic — Tom Brady — it's much more likely that a mandatory, monthlong vacation from his artificial-turf office is the stuff nightmares are made of, workplace psychologists say.

As the famously driven quarterback grits his way through the four-game suspension for Deflategate that began at 4 p.m. Saturday, he'll surely inflict his obsessive practice routine on a procession of sore-handed victims. When he's not working out, maybe he'll fidget and pace and frighten the dog, unable to pry himself away from the TV on game day.

While drawing comparisons between the intensity of the NFL and the doldrums of workaday office life can be tricky, those whose devotion to their jobs borders on the fanatical often find time away from work anything but relaxing.


"For people who really are workaholics, they go through withdrawal just like an addict," said Bryan Robinson, a psychotherapist and the author of "Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them."

Robinson stressed that he can't say whether Brady is truly a workaholic — though teammates and Brady himself have used that word. But if he is, Robinson said, "a true workaholic who is not working, they tend to get fidgety and irritable — they don't have their drug, so to speak, to calm them down."

Americans are notoriously bad about taking vacations, with more and more workers leaving time off on the table at year's end. Even when they do get away, they often stay tethered to their phones and laptops.


Brady threw a pass during Friday’s preseason finale.
Brady threw a pass during Friday’s preseason finale.Bill Kostroun

But Brady — who, it bears mentioning, already gets several months off from roughly February through July — won't have that option. He's barred from contact with Patriots employees, banned from practicing with the team, and can't even trade messages with players or staff if they have anything to do with football.

The result, Robinson said, is "a form of white knuckling" — exactly the sort of cold turkey approach professionals wouldn't recommend for someone with a serious work addiction.

"It affects you physically — it keeps you on high alert," Robinson said. "It lowers the immune system."

For a recovering workaholic named Bob, who returned a reporter's message to Workaholics Anonymous, the adrenaline rush that came from overloading himself with work was a powerful stimulant.

"My own experience is that taking vacations is very difficult," said Bob, who spoke anonymously in keeping with the group's traditions. A self-employed real estate professional, he would fill his schedule to the breaking point, stacking up meetings and phone calls to feel the rush of the resulting chaos.

"For a lot of us, adrenaline is the big drug," he said.

Brady isn't saying how he'll spend his suspension except to say that he's planning to be ready come October.

"We'll see," he said again and again in response to questions about his plans. But it's more likely that we won't.


Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist in private practice in St. Louis who deals with workplace issues, said work-obsessed people whose jobs are taken away against their wishes might feel angry and resentful.

"To not work can be excruciating for some people, especially for those whose identity is wrapped up in their work," she said.

If their own actions led to it, Friedman said, "then they might feel remorseful."

That's a bit of a touchy subject around here, but forgive Friedman for her ignorance with regard to Deflategate. She's so uninterested in football, she said, that she had to look up who Brady was before fielding questions from a reporter.

Friedman said Brady will surely be working with his body coach and practicing in ways that are permitted under the terms of his suspension. And counting the days until he's running back onto the field to the roar of the crowd.

While some "could get stuck in self-recrimination," Friedman said, others "use it as a steppingstone toward self-improvement or achieving even higher excellence."

Nestor Ramos can be reached at nestor.ramos@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.