Can You Be Addicted to Stress?

If you’re someone who always seems to be stressed out and is constantly looking for more to add to your plate rather than managing the stress you already have, you might be a stress addict.

I know it may seem silly to be addicted to something that can make you feel overwhelmed and downright miserable, but stress addiction is often linked to being overworked, being a perfectionist, and thinking that the more you try to accomplish, the better off you will be.

Keep reading to learn more about stress, how it can be an addiction, and what you can do about it.

What Being Addicted to Stress Looks Like

It can be tough to determine if you’re addicted to stress, especially if you’re used to being in a stressed state most of the time. For people with chronic stress, it’s very difficult to determine when your stress is a problem and when it’s something you might be seeking out. 

Here are some common signs that you might be addicted to stress:

Never having any free time – To start with, if you feel like you never have free time, you might be addicted to stress. Even people who have a busy schedule and who are incredibly busy most of the time still have at least a little free time. If you have absolutely zero free time 7 days a week, it’s more likely that you’re seeking more things out to fill your schedule. 

Constantly packing your schedule – Similarly, you might be constantly looking for more things to fill your schedule with. Maybe you notice that when you have a day off over the weekend, you almost always look for more to do. You offer to help others, you add on more tasks to the task you are already working on, you try to learn something new, etc.

There is nothing wrong with working hard and getting ahead in your life, but there may be something wrong if you feel like you have to constantly be busy. This is a big sign that you could be addicted to the stress and overwhelm that a busy life brings you.

Being bored when you have nothing to do – For those rare occasions when you have nothing to do and no plans, are you bored? Do you struggle with what to do with your time? Do you feel uneasy when you have free time? This could be another sign of being addicted to the stress.

Feeling more accomplished when you’re busier – You might be someone who feels more accomplished the busier you are. That somehow lack of sleep and 80-hour work weeks and never having time for friends and family just means you’re working harder than them, dreaming big, and accomplishing more. This is not a healthy attitude to have. As a human being, you need rest, not only for your mind and your body, but also for your spirit.

Being used to the feeling of overwhelm – This is a sign that may not seem like a problem, but can actually be one of the worst of all. If you spend so much of your time stressed out and overwhelmed, you might not even recognize the feelings of stress anymore. You get used to it, you become accustomed to that feeling of unease, and you’re adapted to the mental and physical signs of stress. 

There’s a good chance this is directly related to your stress addiction as not only are you continuing to add more to your schedule, but there’s a good chance you aren’t doing anything about the stress you’re already living with.

Stress addiction and burnout are closely related. To learn more about the signs of burnout, check out my recent blog post, 5 Warning Signs You’re Headed for Burnout.

How to Get a Handle on Your Stress Addiction

If any of this sounds like you, now is a good time to begin to get a handle on your stress addiction. You first need to come to terms with the fact that you are dealing with chronic stress and that you might be seeking it out. You need to understand that everyone needs a break and that just because stress is common, it doesn’t mean it has to be a continuous part of our everyday life. 

The next steps include working to reduce your stress in simple ways. You might start with something as small as saying no to one thing this week, or scheduling at least a few hours a week of free time, then work up to a day and even an entire weekend. 

Make small changes and you will notice the difference very quickly.

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