Addicted to Being Stressed

by Gabriele Conrad, Goonellabah, Australia

I am one of these people who will readily say that I hate feeling stressed. Thus, I will put things and rhythms in place to not let it happen and generally be of the opinion that I don’t want it in my life so much that I will do just about anything to prevent it from happening and running myself ragged. But then last Friday happened.

So what happened last Friday? I had four jobs lined up; starting early with a healing session at my home, then a few hours in ‘my day job’, after that a training session at a new workplace and then finishing off with another healing session at home. The two jobs in the middle required some driving – I also wanted a lunch break and the day was pretty full and rounded, by all accounts.

So what is the big deal, you might ask? Well, after returning from my morning walk I could feel how I had this urge to pack more things into this well structured day, how I wanted to make me more efficient and get more done, seeing I was ‘on a roll’. One thing I really wanted to get done was my washing and so I began plotting how to squeeze it into the gaps (including keeping an eye on it as showers were predicted for the day). But hey, I was going to be home between jobs, right? The other thing I decided I wanted and needed to do in order to feel really good about my day and me, was to do my grocery shopping, because hey, I had some gaps between jobs, right?

But somehow it didn’t feel right. I just knew it wasn’t a supportive and loving thing to do. But I could also feel how hard it was to let go of the idea of doing the washing and the shopping on top of everything else. On one hand I was very clear that it was crazy to pack more things into the day, on the other hand my mind was like a dog with a bone and didn’t want to let these potentially tantalising achievements go. What was going on? And why was it so hard to just do what I knew felt so right?

And then it hit me: there is a part of me that enjoys running myself ragged, no matter how strongly I might verbally state the opposite. There is a part of me that gets off on being a super achiever and being super organised, a part of me that gets off on doing more than is necessary in any one day.

This now takes me back to the beginning of the story: last Friday taught me that no matter how strongly I had always believed and verbally stated that I hated being rushed, stressed and hassled, I had been my own worst stressor by the impositions I have always put on myself in order to achieve ever more and be super efficient. Last Friday made me realise that I had always been addicted to being on a roll, addicted to being stressed, never mind the words to the contrary that I had been spouting.

So what happened last Friday? I chucked the bone (after wrapping it in cast iron) and just did what I needed to do – the sessions and my work assignments. I also had a lunch break. I enjoyed what I was doing and I was physically tired when it was all done. I also skipped the exercise class I had planned to attend that evening and just let myself rest.

So what happened Saturday? The weather was fine, I did my washing and there was no need to keep an eye on it or bring it back in and under cover. I went shopping really early and it was a breeze. Time expanded… it felt great and I felt great.

859 thoughts on “Addicted to Being Stressed

  1. Hah yes that ‘on a roll’ feeling, yet it is the time to appreciate the roll rather than squeeze in a few extra things because your’e on the roll. Realising here that the ‘squeezing in of extras’ is just a way of avoiding completing what’s needed in that dedicated quality and feeling the expansion, appreciation and beauty of beginning the next thing.

    1. Yes, it’s like we prefer the short term stimulation of the rush, drive and excitement of starting something new and fresh rather than the deep settlement, stillness and space that comes from completing something with quality- and the space that then naturally brings the next thing towards us.

      1. We choose what is to our detriment, over and over and over again. What is it about us humans that consents to this, despite our better knowledge and despite the repeated experience of how terrible it feels? Are recognition and identification just too strong and addictive to forego the damaging repetition of old behaviours?

  2. It’s so important to look at the part of ourselves that finds a high in the stress or is addicted to stress and then deconstruct why. I’m in the process of looking at it myself right now and it’s shakes out all the victim mentality and offers me a choice to take more responsibility for myself in a very self empowering way.

  3. Making ourselves busy is very often just a way of avoiding taking care of the way that we are doing what we are doing and in not doing so we do not bring all of who we are to anything we do.

  4. I love this account Gabrielle, as it shows how we can try to pack in more individuality into our spaces between tasks, when in fact the space may provide all sorts of support that we need for the day.

    1. In the space there is observation, there are insights and new understandings and there is wonderment. The known pictures only offer staleness and the same old, same old.

  5. Gorgeous Gabriele! I can totally relate to this.
    I have the same temptation to ‘fill in the gaps’ to pack more into my day… but when I fall for this I squash myself; I end up fighting with time, over tired, out of my rhythm and discouraged.

    I love how you describe the space and harmony that opened up when you listened to that feeling of what was needed and not needed. I too find this to consistently happen when I don’t go for the temptation to add complication and stress.

    I have discovered one of the reasons I choose to run myself ragged is that when I’m exhausted my body doesn’t do the deep healing it can do when I’m rested… and the healing involves feeling which I tend to try to avoid!

  6. Very exposing again, as I have read your blog a couple of times over the years. Every day off of my very busy job I try to be super efficient and to do more than what my body is communicating, also I am disappointed when again it did not worked out the way I planned it, to less hours in one day. So thank you for the stop moment you have offered, to feel how actually I go into this game of being the super achiever.

      1. You mean it’s a bit like the inability to just let silence be and work its magic? We do indeed tend to clobber and rapidly fill any space that would otherwise allow for a pause in the momentum, the push and the shove, the race to the imagined front.

  7. Time expanded … a beautiful reminder that when we let go and honour ourselves, and our rhythm somehow we appear to ‘gain’ time, but it’s just that the space is there for what is needed next.

    1. And space being our great ally and bridging us into our multidimensionality and the awe of what is possible .. and then some.

  8. Stress is often a root cause of many illnesses. Giving ourselves more time – and space – allows a more natural flow in life. The addiction to stress then becomes apparent.

    1. We become addicted to the strangest things and notions, especially the ones we might say we’d rather not have. Who’s in charge, I wonder?

  9. I can so relate to trying to squeeze ‘just one more thing’ into my day, which leaves me feeling tired. Letting go of that and listening to what my body needs has been changing recently – and my sleep is better – of course!

      1. I’d say there must be – doing good and better and getting ahead of time (impossible!), just in case tomorrow’s workload turns out to be even bigger.

  10. Thank you. I love what you have shared here because it exposes how we have these addictions which run in us that we can think are the world moving faster or life getting more intense.

  11. The acceptance of stress in our daily lives and the normality of it seems to be the way of society today and yet this is our man made illusion ,suffering and way of living in time and without the flow and support of the universe we are all part of and that is there to guide us beautifully everyday in the simplicity of listening to our bodies.

  12. I love this Gabriele as it really highlights how when we let go of wanting to get things done, we are given the space to do them with no stress. Its only when we try to control life that we run ourselves into the ground with complications.

  13. I find the more I let go of time the more I actually get done, on one hand it does not make sense but when I look at the times I do this my focus is entirely on what I am doing with no energy being given to the time or deadline and so with my full attention it gets done quicker and more completely so I am not making mistakes.

    1. Time can be a veritable tyrant if we let it and fall for what we have made it to be whereas presence opens the prison doors and allows for spaciousness.

      1. It sure does and is such a different feeling. When we give everything the space it requires and deserves then it all happens when the time is there without any of the pressure or need for it to be a certain way.

  14. It is so fascinating to observe what happens when we allow our mind to take precedent over our bodies as for me it always ends up in feeling stressed or overwhelmed what is there to be done or worse exhausted from following it all through and driving myself through the day. Thankfully this happens less and less. It is a great exposure of what we are seeking to be identified with as you have highlighted, and if we are honest with ourselves we then can feel how unloving and dishonouring it is in contrast to being led by the truth in our body.

    1. We create and live from a disconnection between our body and the demands of the mind and suffer the consequences.

  15. I was addicted to stress and would even have said it was my friend as it helped me get things done, until high blood pressure raised its head and started to affect my life. These days I have almost mastered stress and also mastered the high blood pressure, coming off medication after 15 years. I hate the feeling of stress in my body and can feel the damage it is doing.

    1. We learn to use stress to keep us going in the artificial elevation and get through things but it hurts us and the body suffers.

      1. It is no small suffering either, constant high blood pressure to name but one consequence puts the heart and vascular system under huge disharmony wearing out the body faster than time alone can do.

    2. That is amazing Doug, so often we can leave things to the last minute to get our blood pumping and get things done yet when we do them at the time it changes everything and no longer does it have to be about getting it done by the deadline rather having it done with plenty of time, leaving space for the next thing to come in.

  16. In my experience, I have found that the part of me that enjoys being run ragged is the part that actually likes to be delicately taken care of, and so it – I – create situations of stress so that I can fall apart so that I can spend the time putting myself back together again – and so the cycle continues…

    1. Some people get addicted to picking themselves up again, not ever realising that we do not need to fall and falter in the first place.

    2. That is an interesting point Shami and a great observation as then when we pick ourselves back up we get a sense of pride and achievement but what have we really done simply got ourselves back to square 1 and nothing has really changed. Oh how easily we fool ourselves!!

  17. I’m having to do less in my day, one thing at a time and not overlapping doing one thing and another. I’ve wanted to pack so much into my day I’ve got myself ill. I’m realising I’ve wanted to work every request out for support and do a good job of looking after myself. Today I realised I how uncomfortable I felt when others had to feel the consequences of their choices and not have me come tidy things up for them. I was frightened by this tension when I was young and also it was a way of being ‘loved’ because I was needed and liked for this (but not me) when more often than not I felt unmet. I can feel my worth now and let go of needing to be needed. I can also feel how there is a difference between when something is to be done and when it is left or left until it is to be done.

    1. Yes, there is a time and place for everything and when that constellates, everything flows and happens with the utmost ease.

    2. I have noticed this distinction of when something needs to be done and needs to be left as well. I am also discovering that we know, deep down, far more than we want to know we know because somewhere deep inside we know we are the ones who get ourselves out of the hole that we have dug.

    1. True Elizabeth, there are people who live stressed all of the time and consider this to be normal. Yesterday I had a very stressfull day and today my body is telling me with aches and pains it is far from normal. And I wonder yes it was a very busy day and went from moment to moment but what gets me most is that I have the idea I have to be there for everyone at the same time, my colleagues, the clients, some new people coming in, the receptionist, the list is endless basically, good to be honest though.

  18. “But somehow it didn’t feel right. I just knew it wasn’t a supportive and loving thing to do.” – I’m learning to listen to that kind of feeling more and not override it.

  19. I so understand this part of us that celebrates being very busy, we can show off our importance to others, we can feel we have filled the day with so much and go to bed exhausted, and we don’t buckle under the strain. But what do our bodies feel like living like this? I am becoming aware of the quality of my connection to my body can be very different when I allow myself some space in a day simply to take a mini break.

  20. I can so relate to this. I always say I want to sleep earlier but I cannot stop what I’m doing when I’m home and last night I just stopped and left everything to be done in the morning and went to bed. I had to back myself up I mean really do so with my movements.

    1. Great way of describing it – backing yourself up with your movements. That can at times feel as though I am taking myself by the hand, as one would a small child and point it in the right direction.

  21. Our addictions are now much more broad than we are used to. No longer is it only coffee, or alcohol, or drugs we have to contend with, but the addictions of the internal dramas and self-abuse that rule our days.

    1. Our addictions are many and they have indeed metamorphosed into addictions and, because the stakes are higher, they are no longer mere wayward behaviours.

    1. Not needing coffee but getting the same effect as though we’ve had a coffee is a lot cheaper and we never run out, don’t you think?

  22. The doing can be used as a distraction from feeling what is to be felt in our body.
    To disconnect from the truth, hurts and beauty we carry within.

  23. I used to be the consummate day filler and the fuller the day the more opportunity to feel good about my achievements. But then when I looked back over all the things I had done they would all fade into obscurity when I felt my very exhausted body, which would have me asking myself if it had been worth it. It has taken a while to break this destructive pattern but it has been so well worth the commitment and my body will agree.

    1. It’s easy to work ourselves into exhaustion one day and feel mentally elated by our achievements but I have found that the following day is then mainly one of devastation and lethargy as my body is trying to catch up with what my mind had orchestrated – cheap thrills, in other words and not at all worth it.

  24. I definitely enjoy at times the drama of running ragged what is otherwise a stupendously beautiful body of love, my body. Because when I am ragged with stress I know that I can let go of the responsibilities that come with loving people, in other words – it gives me a day off. But, there are no real days off with love, there is just delay and this always leads to trouble. So, perhaps it is wiser to just stay with what works and live dedicated to that, without going over or under what can be done, and just simply getting on with it.

    1. Sounds like a simple and straightforward recipe for success – no stress, no raciness, preservation of the body and our sanity.

  25. We may be able to do more, but we have to be careful how we frame this. It is not the same to say, I am not doing enough than saying I can add something else that will help me without creating any disruptions or hassles.

  26. I now realise that it is not just stress I am addicted to, it’s actually anything that pushes my body beyond what it is able to do and honouring that inner voice that says to say no.

  27. I clocked myself the other day literally creating tension and stress that wasn’t there simply because I’m addicted to running myself ragged and exhausting myself.

    1. Great observation – noticing what we are doing and not just brushing it under the carper is the first step towards changing what we don’t want to take with us as we move on in life and make it the life we deserve and want to have.

      1. Yes, that’s so true. I was quite shocked at myself for making a day all about stress when I the other choice was a day full of joy-filled work without meetings or needing to be anywhere.

      2. I’ve had that experience as well – we create our own stress and get tripped up by what we have wilfully created rather than surrender to the flow of the day.

  28. Reading your blog Gabriele has reminded me of how in the past I allowed my addiction to stress to rule and ruin my quality of life. If I had a minute or two to spare I would look around for something to fill the gap which allowed for stress to enter the equation. Now by taking these spare moments to check in with me and how I am feeling, allows me to move gracefully from one activity to the next.

    1. Can I take up this space to say to you Elizabeth that watching you walk across a room is a joy because you do move with such grace and effortlessness you are very inspirational to us all.

  29. We can really distract ourselves with stress, feel righteous and have a false sense of accomplishment by what we think we have to do. It is wise to ponder what we put in place of us being with ourselves and in the present moment.

    1. Stress is a great distraction from feeling what is there to be felt; from accessing and living from the deeper connection to the steadiness and space we hold within. Not living in the present moment gives us the perfect excuse to not commit to being fully in it.

  30. Often we throw ourselves in a ‘race against time’ in order to avoid the magnitude of space and all that is communicated to us through it from the Universe (Body of God) we live within.

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