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.

642 thoughts on “Addicted to Being Stressed

  1. Being honest with ourselves and why we choose what we choose is a very needed foundation to start to change the choices that don’t work towards or benefit our well-being.

  2. Stress is a great way to avoid what we are feeling because we tend to then focus on the stress rather than what is causing the stress in the first place.

  3. I have found that stress can be my best friend and not something that I have to judge as bad, its like a very uncomfortable change point where you get to be honest and say, if I’m not with my body, then where’s the love?

  4. This blog is gold Gabriele. The cycle of work hard, crash hard is well known to me. I know that I exhaust myself so I try to do absolutely everything while I am feeling ‘good’ in the mistaken belief that I will be able to rest later. I can see that it would be much wiser to live consistently committed to life.

    1. A bit like our self-inflicted economic cycle really, boom and bust – in this case, overextend and crash hard and do it all over again. As you say, consistency is key and not the wild gyrations that take us from shallow gratification to contraction and exhaustion.

  5. Awareness is the key to feeling when we leave our natural rhythm and go into a drive to get things done that puts the body into tension and we feel stressed and anxious so that we can choose to come back to our quality of connection more and more.

  6. Wow! Stress can be an addiction… now there is a psychological mind bender for you! It shows stress is a choice and is very empowering to feel it this way.

  7. I can relate to that running ragged behaviour in the past Gabriele and I also had an arrogance that I was so great to fill so much more into my life than others. I now understand there is a flow to everything we do, and feel what is going to be sorted today and what is going to left for tomorrow.

  8. To stay with what we feel is true and bring our focus or dedication away from just getting it done or doing it is what will support us all ongoing. As the article is saying too often we override the feeling to get into the doing and then loose track of time or we are cramped or stressed with time. The only way to sustain or to honour ongoing what you are feeling is to live that way, to dedicate as much as possible to feeling what’s going on around you. Then when the pressure is on or the stress meter goes up you will see everything for what it is.

  9. Gabriele it can sound strange to be addicted to stress yet that is exactly my experience, I was very much addicted to stress! Today the opposite is true but for me the highs and the lows are what used to make life.

  10. What a learning Gabriele , the washing was a good one , a good way of maintaining stress in the body .
    It great you have got rid of the bone. Everyones day is full, its full of what needs to be done .

  11. Stress is such a cheap and easy drug of choice if we want to consume it. How we deal with a situation or experience says more about us as a person than about the actual experience at hand.

  12. This is a feeling I have too Gabriele. Often when I am about to have a healing session, I look back at recent life events and feel how intense they’ve been, and I get the strongest feeling that things needn’t carry on this way. By the time I come to speak to the practitioner it’s sounds really odd to say ‘I have this big issue’ when it is clear in my heart I do not. Your words here makes it so clear, there are two possible ways we can live, one which worships complexity, difficulty, upset and strife and the other that knows simplicity, sweetness and truth. It’s just up to us which way we will go, and whether we are prepared to give up this overwhelm drug which is as potent as anything chemical we have made.

  13. Great blog Gabriele. I certainly know what you are talking about here, especially this part – “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.” I know this well. It has run me ragged many a day. But like you it is lessening its grip and I wash more on Saturdays now 🙂 It is a loving work in progress to bring more self-love and self-care into my day, and realise that my being is more important that my doing.

  14. The super organised super achiever in me squirms reading this. It’s funny you use the example of washing as often I notice myself thinking about putting washing on and if there isn’t one to wash I’ll check again just to make sure. If I keep busy then I don’t have time to feel what is really going on, let alone connect to the quality of stillness.

  15. I love this sharing Gabriele! I have often found myself ending up with a stacked day after starting with what seemed like an easy day for me. What I have noticed is that I tell myself its OK I am only doing as few things for myself on the day but It snowballs because I haven’t said no and each event took twice as long to accomplish as I expected! Not looking after me first does backfire and exhaustion follows.

  16. Gabriele, I can relate to the addiction of being ‘on a roll’ focused on the achievement in getting things done and not allowing myself to settle fully in my body first and from there enjoying moving with my body’s own flow and rhythm instead of from my mind and mentally ticking off all the jobs when completed.

  17. I feel that there are many many people who will relate to what you have shared here. Being addicted to achieving things and stressing ourselves out over it all. We have a long way to learn that there actually nothing ‘out there’ that can dominate one’s choice or be blamed for any stressed action. It is always our choice as to how we deal with and manage our life.

  18. A brilliant blog to stumble upon this morning – I can very much relate to hating being stressed but getting off on it at the same time. When I feel spacious and expanded there is nothing to dramatise about, so I’ll look for something more to do, to bring in the squeeze of time so that I can run around like a headless chicken and create a drama I can write home about – until the next drama, and the next drama and so on.

    1. Being stressed and squeezed for time is an addiction when there is spaciousness, we often attempt to recreate the limitations.

      1. In spaciousness there is no panic, there is no ‘I’ running around getting off on how busy I am, important, unimportant etc. So – we switch on the stress button again to go back into that familiar pattern where ‘me, myself and I’ become the centre of our own world once more.

  19. I also in truth do not like to feel stressed, yet I have observed that there is a part of me that relishes the identification that is offered through stress. The identification that believes that I am valued through how much I can achieve, or that I think I am ‘alive’ if am on the go, or even the exhaustion that follows offers me recognition for ‘all’ that I was able to do in a day. However, the more I honor what I feel is true and allow myself to be guided by how my body feels, as you have wisely shared, ‘time expands’ and the space for us to bring our presence to every moment is available. Moving with this quality is what represents, defines and confirms who we are like nothing else can in this world.

  20. A very timely article to read this morning, as I had already been plotting my two busy days ahead and what I would do in between the tight little gaps I would try and find. Time can and will expand, if we let go of the internal rushing and stress that we create for ourselves.

  21. And I may add – I have realised now what I can let go of in my two very busy days ahead to create the spaciousness that will support this day, the next day and the week ahead. It’s so simply a case of observing what we are attached to, and asking ourselves if this thing, task, whatever it may be, is on par with how we really want to feel, whether it will support us to feel expanded or not.

    1. A great point – taking a moment and assessing where we might be purely outcome or success driven rather than plodding through a to do list like an obedient servant of our own agenda.

  22. To go in the stress is a way to feed the spirits existence.
    IT takes us away from feeling our body and all what is around us.
    And it makes the body ill.

  23. When we let go of what we need to fit into the day, it is amazing how much we get done because when we have no picture there is no expectation, and things naturally have their own flow and there is nothing for us to get stressed over.

    1. We get the opportunity to live each moment with presence and let the next moment unfold from there when we take the pressure off and stop focussing on the outcome.

  24. Being busy, busy, busy and feeling stressed is a cunning trick to stop ourselves feeling how amazing we are just being who we are.

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