Are you Addicted to Stress?
It’s worth taking the time to ask yourself this very question, Are you addicted to stress?
The sad reality is that our modern lifestyles are designed in such a way as to make stress almost a requirement. For example the average person is happy to work for the equivalent of six extra hours a week without pay. Why would we willingly subject ourselves to this?
The answer is that we are very much rewarded for behaviors that lead to stress. We are rewarded when we take on extra work, when we beat the deadline and when we don’t complain about our workload. This could even lead to a pay rise!
What’s more, some elements of stress can actually feel quite good. When we are stressed it can make us feel more focused, it can make time seem to pass more quickly and it can help us to feel a sense of accomplishment.
Actually, being stressed produces the reward hormone ‘dopamine’. This is the same hormone that makes things like eating and even taking drugs addictive.
And it’s released in even greater quantities when we complete a task on time or tick something off that to-do list. So it’s quite possible that the feeling of stress you get is actually leading you to become addicted to stress.
Signs You May be Addicted to Stress
So let’s say for a minute that you are addicted to stress… How would you even know if that was the case?
Here are 8 signs that stress addiction might be a problem for you:
- You feel as though you only thrive under pressure
- You are constantly checking your phone or computer for updates/e-mails
- You often leave work late
- You complain a lot or bark at people straight away
- You can’t ‘switch off and struggle to relax.
- You don’t know what to do with your spare time, in fact you enjoy spending your time on your business
- Your relationships are going down hill
- You’ve forgotten what really makes you happy
Creeping up on us
As the latest health news suggests Stress is on the increase, it’s worth thinking about how stress tends to creep up in small increments.
We start off with a reasonable workload and over time we become desensitised to that amount of work. We become more efficient at completing those tasks too and eventually this puts us in a position where we feel able to take on more and more.
The result is that you become actually addicted to your work load and unable to switch off, which in turn starts to mean you’re getting addicted to stress.
We celebrate people who work harder for the ‘common good’ and we punish people who are perceived as lazy. Being called ‘work shy’ is one of the worst things that anyone can call us and generally we’re made to feel awful if we don’t keep taking on bigger and bigger responsibilities.
In reality, this is something we should look at critically. Are the heroes really those people who are willing to work longer hours without pay? Is it really so bad to want to spend your life doing things that you enjoy?
Technology is also somewhat to blame for our current state of hyper- arousal and stress. The role of technology is to make life easier for us.
In other words, it’s supposed to be a ‘force multiplier’ meaning that theoretically it should allow us to accomplish more with less work.
Technology has allowed us to do more in less time but in doing so it means we’re now required to do much more in total. Throw in the fact that we’re now constantly connected and always reachable by our bosses, clients and colleagues and you have a recipe for serious work-related stress and sleep issues.
How can we stop being addicted to stress?
The first thing you need to do to start combating stress is to identify where it is coming from. A lot of the most popular treatments for stress seem to focus on dealing with the symptoms but actually this is ignoring the bigger problem and the more straightforward answer.
If you are stressed, then 9 times out of 10 something is causing that stress and often that can be because you’re living to work rather than working to live and without knowing it you’ve become addicted to stress.
A few suggestions could be to….
- Replace the buzz of stress with exercise
- Build in ‘Breaks’ to your day and make sure they really are breaks!
- Turn your phone off for a few hours each evening and lose it at the weekends
- Be happy with where you are and what you have now
- Cut out all of the non-essential clutter to your day, your time will increase and your stress decrease
- Linked to number 5, try the Pomodoro Technique to help with time management and breaks
- Most of all be conscious of stress and when you need to step back and relax
- Take up a hobby that can help you rest your mind like Adult Coloring
A culture of working harder, longer and faster has emerged because it’s good for the world as a whole. But it is not good for the individual. And it is not ‘wrong’ to put your health, your happiness and your family ahead of corporate objectives.
Try and start to slow down and make sure you spend your weekends as they should be spent, downtime to have fun with the people who matter the most to you!
Slowly but surely you should find yourself moving away from being addicted to stress.