verslaafd aan stress

You are at a party and you are asked how you’re doing: “good, but busy”. “Me too!”. Then you both explain why you’re so busy. Perhaps you even have a tendency to bid against the other person about who is the busiest. Do you recognize the following situation? Maybe you are addicted to stress!

The numbers

According to a survey by Agis Zorgverzekeringen from 2011, nearly 9 out of 10 Dutch people experience too much pressure and stress in their daily lives, due to both work and private factors. And even more problematic: no less than 14% of Dutch people report burnout complaints, and this percentage is only increasing!

Is stress bad?

Well, we are so stressed. But is this so bad? After all, stress often forces us to be sharp during a job interview or a first date, or ensures that we can move mountains. But although stress is not always bad, long-term pressure and stress negatively affects our psychological and physical well-being. And while we generally try to find ways to reduce stress, it’s hard for the workaholics among us to take a step back. Sometimes so difficult that stress seems addictive. But is that possible?

What is stress?

Stress causes your body to be alert so you can respond quickly to certain events. This happens because the hormones adrenalin (the so-called fight hormone) and norepinephrine are released. But in addition to these hormones, also dopamine is released in the brain, which is a “feel good” hormone. Dopamine is the most important hormone in the reward system of our brains. Because of dopamine we want to repeat an act that’s enjoyable or provides satisfaction.

Stress and addiction

As with stimulants such as nicotine, caffeine or opiates, dopamine levels also rise when we are stressed. We feel fantastic (for a while). But over time, the level of dopamine drops. This causes you to feel irritated and uneasy. These feelings only fade when dopamine levels rise again. When this cycle repeats itself often enough, the risk of developing an addiction increases.

It gets serious if feeling stressed becomes our normal state of being. Once we got accustomed to a certain level of stress, we will look for even more challenges to get the same “high” as with any other addiction.

How do you know if you are addicted to stress?

Do you work best with a deadline, do you leave everything until the last moment and do you find it difficult to do nothing? Then maybe you’re a little addicted to feelings of stress. But this is not directly problematic. If you regularly experience a high level of stress and pressure, but this does not affect your work, then there is no reason for concern.

This is different if, in addition to stress, you also experience symptoms such as fatigue, sleep problems, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, reduced resistance, cynicism and / or irritability. And even more important: if you feel that you have no other choice.

What can you do?

It is first of all important that you realize and acknowledge that long-term stress is not good for your health. In addition, just as with any other addiction, there is often another underlying problem. It can help to talk to someone about it.

We can also train ourselves to feel restful again, by reflecting on how and what you feel and what’s on your mind.

NiceDay app

Describe in your NiceDay diary what kind of stress you experience and what for effect it has on how you feel. Do you notice that stress has a big impact on you or your health? Discuss this together with your therapist or coach.

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Ayla Hoogenboom

Being a psychologist and a coach, Ayla is fascinated by what drives and motivates people. Her coaching is empowering. She is an enterprising out-of-the-box thinker. She gets energy from her family, running and doing yoga.

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