Advertising
Advertising

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.

    Advertising

    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.”

    Advertising

    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.”

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    More by this author

    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    Does the Pomodoro Technique Work for You? The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

    Trending in Lifestyle

    1 15 Brain Foods That Will Super Boost Your Brain Power 2 10 Comics About Periods That Only Women Would Understand 3 10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today 4 7 Best Tea for Bloating and Stomach Gas Relief 5 How to Learn Something New Every Day and Stay Smart

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on December 2, 2019

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today

    Plato knew that the body and mind are intimately linked. And in the late 1800s, the Mayo brothers, famous physicians, estimated that over half of all hospital beds are filled with people suffering from frustration, anxiety, worry and despair. Causes of worry are everywhere, in our relationships and our jobs, so it’s key we find ways to take charge of the stress.

    In his classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie offers tools to ditch excessive worrying that help you make a worry-free environment for your private and professional life.

    These are the top 10 tips to grab worry by the horns and wrestle it to the ground:

    1. Make Your Decision and Never Look Back

    Have you ever made a decision in life only to second-guess it afterwards? Of course you have! It’s hard not to wonder whether you’ve done the right thing and whether there might still be time to take another path.

    But keep this in mind: you’ve already made your decision, so act decisively on it and dismiss all your anxiety about it.

    Don’t stop to hesitate, to reconsider, or to retrace your steps. Once you’ve chosen a course of action, stick to it and never waver.

    Advertising

    2. Live for Today, Package Things up in “Day-Tight Compartments”

    You know that feeling: tossing, turning and worrying over something that happened or something that might, well into the wee hours. To avoid this pointless worrying, you need “day-tight compartments”. Much as a ship has different watertight compartments, your own “day-tight” ones are a way to limit your attention to the present day.

    The rule is simple: whatever happened in the past or might happen in the future must not intrude upon today. Everything else has to wait its turn for tomorrow’s box or stay stuck in the past.

    3. Embrace the Worst-Case Scenario and Strategize to Offset It

    If you’re worried about something, ask yourself: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Could you lose your job? Be jailed? Get killed?

    Whatever the “worst” might be, it’s probably not so world-ending. You could probably even bounce back from it!

    If, for example, you lose your job, you could always find another. Once you accept the worst-case scenario and get thinking about contingency plans, you’ll feel calmer.

    4. Put a Lid on Your Worrying

    Sometimes we stress endlessly about negative experiences when just walking away from them would serve us far better.

    Advertising

    To make squashing that worry easier, try this strategy, straight from stock traders: it’s called the “stop-loss” order, where shares are bought at a certain price, and then their price development is observed. If things go badly and the share price hits a certain point, they are sold off immediately. This stops the loss from increasing further.

    In the same manner, you can put a stop-loss order on things that cause you stress and grief.

    5. Fake It ‘Til You Make It – Happiness, That Is

    We can’t directly influence how we feel, but we can nudge ourselves to change through how we think and act.

    If you’re feeling sad or low, slap a big grin on your face and whistle a chipper tune. You’ll find it impossible to be blue when acting cheerful. But you don’t necessarily need to act outwardly happy; you can simply think happier thoughts instead.

    Marcus Aurelius summed it up aptly:

    “Our life is what our thoughts make it.”

    6. Give for the Joy of Giving

    When we perform acts of kindness, we often do so with the expectation of gratitude. But harboring such expectations will probably leave you disappointed.

    One person well aware of this fact was the lawyer Samuel Leibowitz. Over the course of his career, Leibowitz saved 78 people from going to the electric chair. Guess how many thanked him? None.

    So stop expecting gratitude when you’re kind to someone. Instead, take joy from the act yourself.

    7. Dump Envy – Enjoy Being Uniquely You

    Your genes are completely unique. Even if someone had the same parents as you, the likelihood of someone identical to you being born is just one in 300,000 billion.

    Despite this amazing fact, many of us long to be someone else, thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. But living your life this way is pointless. Embrace your uniqueness and get comfortable with who you really are: How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

    8. Haters Will Hate — It Just Means You’re Doing It Right

    When you’re criticized, it often means you’re accomplishing something noteworthy. In fact, let’s take it a step further and consider this: the more you’re criticized, the more influential and important a person you likely are.

    Advertising

    So the next time somebody talks you down, don’t let it get to you. Take it as a compliment!

    9. Chill Out! Learn to Rest Before You Get Tired

    Scientists agree that emotions are the most common cause of fatigue. And it works the other way around, too: fatigue produces more worries and negative emotions.

    It should be clear, therefore, that you’ve got to relax regularly before you feel tired. Otherwise, worries and fatigue will accumulate on top of each other.

    It’s impossible to worry when you are relaxed, and regular rest helps you maintain your ability to work effectively.

    10. Get Organized and Enjoy Your Work

    There are few greater sources of misery in life than having to work, day in, day out, in a job you despise. It would make sense then that you shouldn’t pick a job you hate, or even just dislike doing.

    But say you already have a job. How can you make it more enjoyable and worry-free? One way is to stay organized: a desk full of unanswered mails and memos is sure to breed worries.

    Advertising

    Better yet, rethink about the job you’re doing: What to Do When You Hate Your Job but Want a Successful Career

    More About Living a Fulfilling Life

    Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

    Read Next