10 Signs You’re Addicted to Stress

10 Signs You’re Addicted to Stress

There’s a difference between occasionally feeling stressed and being addicted to stress. Kudos to this instagram post that inspired the article. Growing up in a chaotic environment, where stress and instability are the norm, or spending a significant amount of time in highly stressful work/home environments can condition your body to crave the chemicals released during stress. As adults, we may not even realise we’re addicted to this survival mode. Here are ten signs that you’re addicted to stress:

  1. Difficulty Slowing Down: You constantly feel the need to keep moving and doing something, finding it nearly impossible to relax.
  2. Your Mind Finds Things to Worry About: Even when you try to unwind, your brain seeks out problems to focus on, making relaxation difficult.
  3. Filling Every Moment of Free Time: You can’t stand having free time and always find ways to fill it with tasks or activities.
  4. Feeling Numb or Bored Unless There’s Chaos: Peace feels boring, and you only feel alive when chaos is happening around you.
  5. Attracting Relationships with Extreme Highs and Lows: You find yourself in relationships that are emotionally intense, often involving drama and instability.
  6. Procrastinating Work Until the Deadline: The thrill of last-minute pressure becomes the norm, and you can’t focus unless a deadline is looming.
  7. Workaholism and Extreme Type A Personality: Your identity revolves around work, and you’re always pushing yourself to the extreme.
  8. Feeling Uncomfortable or Bored Around Calm People: You feel uneasy around people who exhibit calm and relaxed behaviour.
  9. Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family: If you grew up in an unstable home, your body might have learned to associate stress with normality.
  10. Parents Modelled Stressful Behaviours: If your parents had similar patterns, you might have learned to normalise these behaviours.

When you grow up in a stressful environment, your body gets addicted to stress-related chemicals. As a result, we become adults who don’t realise we’re living in survival mode. Here’s the kicker: because survival mode feels familiar, our nervous system associates it with safety, even though it’s not. In contrast, peace and stability feel unfamiliar and therefore unsafe.

Breaking the stress cycle involves retraining your nervous system to embrace peace and stability. Here’s how:

  1. Delay Checking Your Phone: Give yourself at least an hour in the morning before you look at your phone.
  2. Start a Morning Ritual: Move slowly and be present with your emotions through meditation, journalling, or gentle movement.
  3. Switch Intense Workouts for Gentle Movements: Opt for yoga or other soothing activities instead of high-intensity exercises.
  4. Stop Gossiping: Avoid engaging in or listening to negative talk about others.
  5. Monitor Your Screen Time: Limit your exposure to social media and digital distractions.
  6. Schedule Time to Be Bored: Deliberately include moments in your schedule with nothing planned.
  7. Start becoming aware of the drivers of your behaviours that cause stress. Take the free Emotional Overdraft Assessment and get a personalised report of your key drivers and how they might show up.

Try these practices and observe your reactions. If you feel resistance or discomfort, it’s a sign that your body is addicted to stress. The journey to break this addiction involves consciously introducing moments of peace to show your nervous system that it’s safe to relax. Treat it like caring for a frightened child, with patience and care.

It’s a process, but you deserve to feel calm and at peace.


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