If you are someone who seems to be always feel stressed out and filled with anxiety, or you are always looking for more to add to your plate instead of working toward a balanced life, you might be addicted to stress.
Let’s take a closer look at 24 signs that you might be addicted to stress, because it’s not a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, stress can be addictive. You might need to revisit all the reasons why personal development is so important and how to make some positive changes that will meet your physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs in other ways.
Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional and you should not consider any information in this article a professional consultation about your personal situation. My writing is based solely on personal experience and research. You should seek professional support if you are struggling with mental health or other health-related issues.
There is a very real physical reaction that occurs in your body when you are addicted to stress. Stress causes your body to create and release cortisol and adrenaline — if you are addicted to stress, those chemicals will remain present in your body for long periods of time.
Chronic stress from being addicted to stress causes cortisol and adrenaline to continuously pollute your body. It becomes a vicious cycle where your body never settles down and you need more stress to keep it going. Without even realizing it, the stress becomes a way of life. You need your next ‘fix.”
There is scientific evidence that there is a direct correlation between cortisol, adrenaline and stress. Stress levels go up as these hormones go up, and vice versa.
Eventually, you could start to notice signs such as fatigue, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, a change in appetite, anxiety, irritability, depression, withdrawal, and a compromised immune system. (I’ve experienced addiction to stress so I share this information based on personal experience as well as research.)
Additionally, the stress hormones wreak havoc on your hair, skin, weight, heart, and digestive system. Let’s do something about it before it’s too late! You need to develop and maintain a healthy mindset to stop being addicted to stress!
24 Serious Signs You May Be Addicted to Stress
It sounds silly to think that you can be addicted to something that makes you feel terribly overwhelmed or downright miserable, but addiction to stress is often linked to being overworked, being a perfectionist, and having the thought that the more you try to accomplish, the more successful you will be.
It can often be hard to determine if you are addicted to stress, especially if you are used to being in a stressed state a large amount of the time. For people with chronic stress, it is very difficult to determine when your stress is a problem, and when it is something you might be seeking out.
Here are some common signs that you might be addicted to stress:
1. Constantly on Your Phone or Technology
Are you constantly on your phone, or your device — texting, Zooming, DMing, updating your social media — whatever! Or you may even have two phones that you carry around with you all the time because you need to be reachable ALL THE TIME.
This is nothing more than a mindset, and you should consider shifting your mindset to a place of peace and understanding that the world will go on if someone cannot reach you at any given moment in time.
2. Never Having Any Free Time
If you always feel like you never have free time, or you are always complaining to others that you never have any free time, you might be addicted to stress. Even people who lead very busy lives can make some free time for relaxation, friends, or pleasurable activities. If you find that you have no free time 7 days a week, it is possible that you are addicted to stress and are actually seeking things to fill your schedule.
3. Always Overbooking Your Schedule
Similarly, if your calendar is constantly full and you keep adding to it, you might be addicted to stress. When you realize there is free time on your calendar, do you look for more to do? Or do you add tasks to your calendar rather than spending some time doing nothing during that open slot in your calendar?
It’s okay to work hard and try to get ahead in life, but there could be a problem if you feel like every minute of every day needs to be busy in order for you to be successful in life. This could be a sign that you are addicted to stress and you enjoy the overwhelm that a busy life brings you.
4. Feeling of Boredom When You Have Nothing to Do
You get bored easily when you don’t have something specific to do. Or when your day planner has an empty spot. You struggle to simply be and do nothing. You also do not like having to have to wait for someone because your time in valuable. Having to wait seems like a waste of time and irritates you.
On the rare occasions when you have nothing to do and no plans, are you bored? Do you fear boredom? Or feel uneasy when you have free time? This could be another sign of being addicted to stress.
5. Feeling More Accomplished When You Are Busier
You might be someone who feels more accomplished when you are busier than most other people. Somehow a lack of sleep and working 80-hour weeks and never seeing your friends anymore gives you a sense that you are working harder than others. Thus, you have a sense that you are more accomplished than others. You are dreaming big and will be big news someday. This can be a very unhealthy addiction to stress that leads to an unhealthy attitude and lifestyle.
You need to develop a mindset shift that allows you to get the rest your body and mind need, or your lifestyle could result in very negative consequences.
6. Being Used to the Feeling of Overwhelm
When you get used to living with the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed all the time, you have reached the point of an unhealthy addiction to stress. it’s time to make changes in your life!
Your mind and body becomes adapted to the mental and physical signs of stress and accustomed to the feeling of unease. You may even begin to not notice it anymore.
These issues are likely from your addiction to stress and if you aren’t actively doing something to live a more balanced life, you will likely continue to add to your stress.
7. Feeling the Need to Be in the Middle of Everything
You secretly enjoy drama and enjoy being in the middle of all the conflicts, whether they are yours or others. When you plan to disconnect, something always comes up, right? You feel like you must take care of everything or else it won’t be done correctly.
It seems that you always have a problem — or are you just inserting yourself into all the problems? Then you talk about the problems like you are a victim of the circumstances and the people who caused the problem.
Going through life in your tailspin of activity and drama creates tense situations with other people and often causes relationship conflicts. Living this kind of stressful life usually leads to unnecessary and unproductive gossip that wastes time. Try staying out of other people’s business and it will simplify your life a bit.
8. Complaining Has Become a Coping Skill
You love telling others how busy you are, how hard your life is, how much time you spend at work, how much you travel for your job, and/or where you’re heading on travel next. You complain about your job, your family, and life in general.
Has it become difficult to talk about the positive things in your life? Do you focus mostly on the negative? Do you believe your life is harder than that of most others? If this sounds like you, you might be addicted to stress. Give it some thought. Reflect on your behaviors, actions, and words to determine if this might be you.
9. You Ignore What Makes You Happy
Do you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel all the time? Have you forgotten about everything that you enjoy? What makes you happy in life? Who makes you happy in life?
You are probably not planning self-care time, or leisure time, or anything fun for yourself. You probably don’t even think about those things anymore. What about the hobbies you once enjoy? Do you think about those anymore? Or are you always thinking about what’s next? And how to get ahead the quickest?
We all need to have leisure time to refresh and rejuvenate. If you find that it is difficult for you to do this anymore, you may be addicted to stress and should probably review the information at the end of this article to help you start to make some changes — for your health and wellbeing.
10. Sleep Hygiene is a Problem
You have a hard time disconnecting at night because your mind is always racing about something else you should be doing. Does this sound like you? If so, maybe it’s because you are addicted to stress; cortisol and adrenaline are keeping your body from being able to rest and relax. Then it becomes a bigger problem over time because you never get the rest your body needs. Start doing something about it now rather than wait until it’s too late. There are many suggestions at the end of this article.
11. You Stay at Work Late
Admittedly, a lot of people do this. It does not necessarily mean you are addicted to stress. But this behavior repeated over and over again, along with other signs that you might be addicted to stress, could indicate a problem. Set boundaries. Don’t let others convince you that it’s necessary to stay late at work 5 nights a week. But even more importantly, don’t allow yourself to convince YOU that it’s necessary. It’s not necessary and it’s not healthy to stay at work late repeatedly.
12. You Live Hard and Play Hard
If you have the philosophy of “Live Hard and Play Hard,” you might actually be addicted to stress. Everyone needs to have down time to relax and unwind. You need to give your body a chance to settle down and refresh. Living hard and playing hard wears on your body, mind, and soul. It keeps the chemicals and hormones in your body on high alert and stimulated. Then you are in that vicious cycle we’ve talked about before — always feeling the need to go, and do, and then do more — until you end up sick or exhausted and unable to keep going. You have to give your body, mind, and soul a chance to rest.
13. You Feel Guilty When You Try to Relax
When you try to relax, you feel guilty thinking that you should be doing something productive. You have a hard time not doing anything and just enjoying your free time. Or maybe you are unable to stop thinking about work, or a project, or something you should be doing? Does this sound like you? If so, you may be addicted to stress.
14. Running from One Thing to the Next
Are you always running from one thing to the next? Always telling acquaintances you have to go because you’re off to another event? Do you find yourself not having time to stop and talk with an old friend you see in an office building as you leave a meeting? This could be another sign that you are addicted to stress.
15. Never Enough Time to Get Things Done
Do you feel like you never have enough time to get everything done? Do you complain to your coworkers, friends, or family about never having enough time to get things done? If so, it might be a sign that you are addicted to stress and really enjoy the craziness that comes from being busy all the time.
16. Leave Things Until the Last Minute
Procrastinate much? If so, you might be addicted to stress because you enjoy the pressure of a timeline rather than staying organized and efficient enough to manage a project over time. Give it some thought. Does the last minute rush of completing a project give you a natural high?
17. Takes Days to Decompress
You go on vacation with your family but they go out to the beach without you for the first three days. Does that sound familiar? Or they go out to breakfast while you take business calls and you meet them later at the amusement park?
If it takes days for you to decompress when you go on vacation, or maybe you can never really let go of work, then you might be addicted to stress. Maybe you get high on the feeling that you can’t relax so you are unable to relax even on vacation. Could this be you?
18. Ignore Proper Nutrition
If you are addicted to stress, you probably eat at your desk or on-the-go more often than you take time to eat a proper lunch. Or you grab fast food rather than take the time to prepare a healthy lunch. Nutrition isn’t your cup of tea and you feel like you’ll start eating properly when your life isn’t so stressful or busy. All are signs that you are addicted to stress.
19. Relationship Issues
Struggling with relationships? Feeling disconnected from your wife and children? Don’t enjoy being among your long-time friends anymore? If you have noticed your relationships are different than they used to be, it may be because you are addicted to stress and you are not taking time to enjoy relationships with those you love and once enjoyed being with.
20. Increasing Daily Annoyances
Do you find yourself complaining about little annoyances more and more? Do things get on your nerves and cause you to feel frustrated more that usual? The pen runs out of ink… the pencil tip breaks… the green light turns yellow before you can get through it… the car in front of you isn’t going fast enough. Your over-reactions to little annoyances, and/or your verbalization about them, may actually be part of your addiction to stress.
21. No Time for Exercise
If you feel like your busyness and running around is what gives you exercise, you are mistaken. The kind of busyness that results from being addicted to stress is the complete opposite of healthy exercise. It’s the kind of busyness that causes health-related illnesses of many kinds. Don’t let your busyness be an excuse for not having time to exercise.
22. Fast or Aggressive Driving
Always in a hurry. Always running from one thing to another. And probably talking on the phone while you’re driving. Being addicted to stress creates the feeling that you need to be in a hurry all the time, so your driving is going to suffer, as well as your health. Do you get more driving tickets that the average person? If so, it may be connected to being addicted to stress.
23. Boasting About Busyness
Sometimes, this behavior is related to ego as well as a stress addiction. But either way, remove yourself from the situation — detach and listen to yourself — ask whether your boastful words need to be said. Do they feed an addiction to stress or do they feed your ego in some way? Does your boasting make you feel more successful? Or does your busyness feed your addiction to stress and your words just validate it? Either way think about the social implications and the impact it has on your stress addiction.
24. Difficulty Saying No
If you are addicted to stress, you probably have a problem saying NO when someone asks you to do something — whether it’s going to make your life complicated or not — simply because you enjoy being stressed! So you will say YES, OF COURSE in order to feed your addiction. It’s time to put the strategies and techniques below to good use and start making some positive lifestyle changes if you suspect you are addicted to stress!
For additional information about STRESS SYMPTOMS AND MANAGEMENT, you may want to read this article on WebMD. I found it very interesting.
How to Stop Being Addicted to Stress
If any of this sounds like you, now is a good time to handle the 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 stress is common, but the desire for it is not normal.
Begin by learning the benefits of mindfulness — mind, body, and soul. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress, fight illness and disease, improve sleep habits, and much more.
Stress addiction truly messes with your overall wellness — physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. You are going to need to retrain your brain to become comfortable with stillness and it’s going to take practice — and patience. It’s important to get your stress hormones back in balance so you can recover from your addiction to stress.
Remember that consistency is the key to success in making changes in your life. You will need to be committed to making change if you truly want to stop being addicted to stress.
Some simple techniques that help to balance your stress hormones include deep breathing, guided imagery, massage, meditation, and yoga.
The next steps include working to reduce your stress in simple ways. This can be something as small as saying no to one single thing this week, or scheduling at least a few hours a week of free time, then work up to a day and then an entire weekend. But you need to develop the mindset that self-care should occur 365 days a year and quiet time is equally as important as work and busy time.
Begin to make these small changes, and you will notice the difference very quickly.
There are other ways to work on your addiction to stress, too. First, unplug from your phones and devices for a designated time each day.
Then ditch your toxic friends who are also addicted to stress and detach emotionally from the feeling that you need to be on-the-go all the time. Get outside more and move your body — either develop an exercise plan or find an active hobby you enjoy.
Next, learn to relax and spend time by yourself. This will likely take practice. Put on some relaxing music or open a window and listen to birds if you find it difficult to be alone in the quiet.
Write out a list of hobbies you once enjoyed, people you haven’t seen in a long time because of being addicted to stress, and things you would like to do just for yourself. Make yourself a priority. Put yourself at the top of your to-do list. Make time to do these things and see the people on your lists.
Say NO to extra activities and people who don’t add significant meaning to your life. Don’t just say YES just to keep yourself on-the-go constantly. Choose meaningful experiences and opportunities that will enhance your life — not make it more stressful.
Set boundaries for yourself and your loved ones. Leave work on time and go home to the people who love you. Enjoy a natural high by laughing more and loving more. Let the important people in your life know they are important — show them.
Listen to yourself and pay attention to the message you are sending others. Are you letting them know you are are comfortable in your skin and at peace with your life now? Or are you still complaining about how busy you are and how you don’t have time for anything?
Have you let go of the feeling that you need to be involved in all the drama that goes down around you? Let go of it. Let others deal with their own drama. You don’t need that on your plate. Think of the peace and calm that will wrap around you once you give up the need to be involved in everyone’s business.
And what about your schedule? Have you scheduled in down time? Self care time? And have you stopped scheduling meetings and appointments back-to-back, leaving no time for you to have a decent, healthy lunch? You are no longer skipping lunch or eating at your desk while you work, are you?
Final Thoughts: Addicted to Stress 2021
Who would ever have thought a person could be addicted to stress, right? But it is most certainly possible and all too common in today’s world. Especially after everything we have experienced in the past two years, being addicted to stress in 2021 is all too common!
In fact, I want to genuinely share that there have been times in my life when I have been addicted to stress. But I had to learn about the problem before I could fix the problem:) And I’m thankful that I did!
It takes time to become un-addicted to stress just like it takes time to deal with any addiction. You have the cortisol and adrenaline doing its thing to your body and mind, so you need to work hard to settle everything down.
Take some time to reflect on what you’ve learned in this article and determine whether you feel like you are addicted to stress. If you want to make some changes in your life, start implementing some of the strategies I’ve shared. I know you can do it! You have the strength to make changes that will improve your life! And I wish you nothing but the very best of luck!
Love to All! ~ Susan