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Are You Addicted to Stress? The Experts Weigh In

Are You Addicted to Stress? The Experts Weigh In

    Ever since the 1980s, there has been an increasing amount of media coverage on stress-related topics. For decades, scientists, researchers, and doctors have been investigating how the human body responds to stress, and whether it is possible for some people to become addicted to stress.

    While there are no hard figures to reveal how many Americans may be suffering from stress addiction, experts do agree that people suffering from this problem face varying degrees of danger to their health.

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    Are you addicted to stress? And if so, does that mean you will be facing serious health problems down the road? Or, will you be one of the few people who benefits from stress addiction?

    The Type A Paradox

    A bevy of medical experts have noted that there are a variety of human responses to stress, and not all of them have to be negative. In fact, high-strung Type-A personalities may actually benefit from stressful lifestyles based on their genetics and lifestyle preferences.

    ”Anyone familiar with the corporate world has had experiences with driven executives who seem to thrive on stressful circumstances that most others could not tolerate,” says Dr. Waino W. Suojanen, a professor of management at Georgia State University. ”There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that some executives deliberately seek out the management life because they get a high out of controlling people. Indeed, the making of decisions seems to become addicting.”

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    So why would someone benefit from stress addiction? Dr. Robert Ader of the University of Rochester, has studied stress addiction for many years, and he explains that stress can actually have some beneficial effects on the body. ”Through our animal work we have hypothesized that it might be possible that some people might need stress because it elicits the release of catecholamines, such as adrenaline, in the blood stream, and this is not necessarily bad because it might increase resistance to some types of disease.”

    Dr. Paul J. Rosch adds that because of these unexpected health benefits of stress, prescribing the right medical treatments can be very challenging. “The Type A individual has perhaps become addicted to his own adrenaline and unconsciously seeks ways to get those little surges,” he explains.

    “The Type A individual is apt to be irritable and depressed. Thus, recuperating from a heart attack by spending three weeks on a deserted beach might be a perfect prescription for one individual, but lethal for some Type A’s, who would be ‘off the wall’ in a matter of hours.”

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    Stress and Genetics

    Stress, when combined with certain genetic factors, can increase a person’s risk for developing depression or even chronic fatigue disorder. According to Dr. David Mrazek, “People with a genetic variant of the serotonin transporter gene [are] more likely to become depressed [if] they have experienced stressful situations.”

    While he notes that the types of stress caused by childhood abuse or major medical are more likely to affect those with the genetic variant, even “the hassles of everyday life [were] associated with an increased risk of depression if a person had this genetic variant.”

    Stress While Pregnant

    Even if you are one of the rare people who thrive under stressful circumstances, all bets are off if you are a woman who becomes pregnant. Stress is arguably the most dangerous thing a pregnant woman can be exposed to. Stress during pregnancy has been linked to all kinds of ill effects for the developing baby.

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    For example, stress can cause miscarriages, lower IQ scores for babies, and can affect the development of the child’s immune system. In fact, one Harvard study revealed that children who had mothers with highly stressful pregnancies were more likely to suffer from auto-immune disease, including asthma and allergies.

    Stress Addiction Warning Signs

    According to Debbie Mandel, author of “Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life”, there are many warning signs that can indicate that a person has become addicted to stress. Mandel says that if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may be at risk for developing stress addiction:

    “1. Do you tune out during conversations thinking about other things?
    2. Do you feel rushed wherever you are because you feel that you ought to be completing the next task somewhere else?
    3. Do you feel uncomfortable, worried, and nervous in your mind or body when you don’t have something you must absolutely do right now?”
     
    Mandel says that clients she treats for stress addiction get hooked on the surge of adrenaline they get when rushing around, frantically trying to check off items on their to-do lists. Many stress addicts, she adds, are also using their stress to keep from dealing with feelings of inadequacy. “In the case of stress addiction, all this busyness stems from the addict’s constant need to prove the self, suppressing feelings of unattractiveness, unworthiness and inadequacy seeping out through the seams of body and soul. It is a case of compulsion versus passion,” she explains.

    Conclusion

    There are good kinds of stress, and bad kinds of stress. Falling in love definitely counts as “good stress”, and getting fired is unquestionably “bad stress”. No two causes of stress are created equal, and it also seems that no two people will have the exact same response a given stressful event.

    Even if you thrive on stress, your addiction may be putting your health at risk. As with everything in life, moderation is best. So, if you absolutely love the adrenaline rush of multi-tasking on 12 urgent projects, you need to make sure you find a little time each day to relax. Examine your motivations for reveling in stress, and make sure you balance your long-term health with your lifestyle choices.

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on September 25, 2019

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

    As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

    When we were still children, our thoughts seemed to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

    Just imagine then, how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power!

    We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities.

    We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

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    We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb.

    We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits.

    And we’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head…

    But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

    So, how can we tap into the power of positivity?

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    “Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

    It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are 4 simple yet powerful ideas on how you can get started.

    1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

    Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

    Just take a look at these 10 Positive Affirmations for Success that will Change your Life.

    2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

    This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

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    You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty.

    If you seek it, you will find it.

    3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

    This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what really is important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

    Here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life that can inspire you.

    4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

    How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking.

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    Instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

    Learn from this article how to change your mental images: How to Think Positive and Eliminate Negative Thoughts

    If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

    And remember:

    You are (or will become) what you think you are.

    This is reasonable enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

    More About Staying Positive

    Featured photo credit: Lauren Richmond via unsplash.com

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