Are you someone who enjoys having deadlines and a packed schedule? You might be addicted to stress! Seriously! For those of you who thrive under pressure and like to be busy all the time these things that others deem as “stressful” can be a driving force that leads to greater productivity. Stress addicts think, “I have processes to streamline, goals to achieve, promotions to earn, debt to eliminate.” Their mantra is “I work best under pressure.” Unfortunately, stress addicts are both frustrated at having any stress at all yet perform best when under stress.

For the stress addict, busyness is a sign of forward motion and progress. Though what addicts often forget is that just like with any other addiction, a harmful price is paid when the thing in question is used incorrectly or in excess. The workplace is no different! Today we learn how we become addicted to stress and how to beat our addiction!

Is Stress Addiction Real? 
Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress argues that multiple demands on our time and energy have created a neurochemical dependence on stress. By activating the dopamine reward center in the brain that feeds us those “feel-good” endorphins, stress can temporarily boost performance! This explains why so-called “stress addicts” can see an increase in productivity when under extreme pressure.

Just like a drug, the feelings of stress and preoccupation are extremely addictive. The transition between being hyper-busy to more reasonable levels of activity may be a foreign feeling and withdrawal symptoms may come along with it. When one becomes addicted to stress, the idea of relaxing and breathing can be quite the adjustment. You might even start to feel bored at times!

Break the Addiction
So you want to live a less stressful life huh? What do we do first? First, you should evaluate and trim away all the non-essentials in your day. What are you involved in on a day-to-day basis that could be taken off your plate? Just because it’s always been on your plate doesn’t mean that it has to stay there! Getting rid of these daily/weekly tasks can free up some of your energy and make your work life a little more balanced.

Often, things aren’t stressful because they are hard but because of poor planning. To avoid this kind of stress make a list of all your current important projects. Once you’ve done that assign a few hours a week to work on those projects so that you will have completed them in a reasonable amount of time. Schedule your most important things first and your non-essential things around them.

In order to help with your organization start de-cluttering. This includes tidying up your email inboxes and your desktop all the way down to your physical space like your desk and drawers. Get rid of files, magazines, trash, and anything that is non-essential and taking up space.

In order to make your job and life a little more enjoyable don’t forget to add things to your calendar that you enjoy. When you are doing those activities do your best to practice mindfulness and be fully present in the moment. Making time for both the essential and non-essential will surely lead you to a less stressful life indeed!

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