I constantly speak of slowing down, and most of the time, I’m able to. But life seems always to speed back up. I’ve always been aware of this pattern, but thought of it as the seasons of life, a cyclical pattern.
Weary and tired of going in circles and trying to control the speed of my life, I wondered what would happen if I released it and allowed myself to go with the flow. Honestly, I thought I would discover my life's natural rhythm, complete with the ebbs and flows. However, what happened was unexpected. My life became overwhelmingly busy, filled with obligations and self-imposed goals, all while trying to be there for my family, run a business, work a full-time job and somehow squeeze in self-care and things that light me up. I didn't know how to say no to the things that were important to me and stop saying yes to the things I wanted to experience in the name of fun, professional, and personal growth.
I was moving at an unsustainable pace, and something had to give. As it turned out, it was my mental and physical health. I was heading toward complete burnout.
In between tasks of doing, I ruminated about what was happening. I wanted to slow my life down, but when I did, I fell right back into the cyclical pattern. But why? Why was I so quick to fill my schedule? As I pondered these questions, I realized this isn't a new phenomenon. The pattern goes back to childhood and a need to prove my worth. Nevertheless, the awareness did not release the need to be "productive" during my waking hours.
And then a question landed on me like a ton of bricks, "Am I addicted to stress?". I have always known I work better under pressure. I find joy in being laser-focused on a task, especially if the focus is on my to-do list. The more I cross off my list, the more maniacally happy I become.
I began researching what it meant to be addicted to stress, and King John Pascual, a contributor for Business Insider, gave a description that felt like my life when I was in stress addiction mode. He said, "Picture a work environment marked by the constant need to achieve something under stressful circumstances. If this sounds like your daily routine, chances are that your chronically stressed out brain can become dependent on the euphoric release of dopamine."
While Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress and a stress management specialist says, "Like a drug addict, you need a bigger fix all the time."
Whoa! That's me, but even then, I could hear my condition-self say, "That’s because you have a strong drive; every successful person has those attributes!" But then I ran across Diane Munoz, a blogger and former stress addict. She states that stress addicts spend a lot of time focusing on how busy and stressful their lives are. But unfortunately, stress addicts may also find they have no free time and ditch social interactions and fun hobbies in favor of seeking out stressful scenarios while relationships fall by the wayside.
WHOLLY SMOKES AND CHEESE! It was time to take a good look in the mirror and own my addiction! So, with you as my witness, I say these words out loud while deepening into self-compassion, "I AM A STRESS ADDICT."
I now understand that feelings of fatigue, insomnia, and irritability are a few of the symptoms of stress addiction. I recognize the devastating effects of not releasing emotions or being stuck in a negative mindset, and stress addiction is just as crushing.
Fortunately, I have the tools to reduce my stress levels, such as meditation, exercise, journaling, and Reiki. However, I must consistently show up for myself, putting myself first.
Intuitively, I know I can't do this alone, and I have a team of bright souls to guide and support me on an energetic, physical and mental level. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help, even if you are the person people go to for support.
This experience is still a journey in progress. But, like any other addiction, it will always be a journey in progress and a continual journey of returning home to myself, reconnecting, grounding, and centering in my true life's flow.
Remember self-care is not selfish it is self-love!!
Be Well, Be Radiant and Be Stress-less,
If you are or think you are a stress addict, let's chat. There is true healing when we share our stories. If you are a recovering stress addict, let's chat. I would love to connect!