Are you addicted to stress?*

Image by Tim Goux

Stress is the new buzzword. Everybody’s stressed lately. Hell, it’s even cool to be stressed. It’s a sign of busyness, of activity, of success. Or is it?

When you look at what the word stress means it actually implies that our ability to handle a challenge is under pressure. And in this day and age where multitasking has become all the rage it seems nobody is immune from the effects of stress.

In all directions demands are placed on us and more often than not we put pressure on ourselves to meet these. There becomes a danger that we become addicted to stress. And how do we know when we’ve succumbed to this addiction?

When we no longer know how to relax.

If you have a type A personality you might fill up your schedule with work, tasks, activities and so on because the feeling of completion and of ‘achieving’ gives you a natural high. Like a drug you can get hooked onto this feeling and forget what it’s like to simply be. Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with being alone or the prospect of having nothing to do.

So to combat this need for busyness we can look at relearning what it’s like to simply be. Mindfulness, the skill of remaining present and centered can help with this. We can learn to stop needing to fill in the empty spaces of our day with stimulation and slow down, get back in touch with ourselves and the people around us and realise that life needs to be savoured to be enjoyed.

While stress may seem to only affect us personally it can also be detrimental to our relationships. Feeling short tempered with your spouse? Easily annoyed by your children? These are clear signs that your work life balance has gone out the window and your stress needs to be addressed.

Then there’s the stress of being online. Addictions to social media and having FOMO is every bit as stressful as having punishing work deadlines. How often are you using your free time to upload, tweet or post on Instagram? Do you really need to be available to all people at all times? Why not try a tech detox and find out whether your online pressures are something you can do without.

It’s not surprising that stress can stop you from living the life you want to. Fortunately, there are lots of different ways to manage it. You can try therapy or mindfulness.

And finally, take a look in the mirror. Stress will always show up in our bodies, especially our skin, whether we like it or not. The dry complexion, the problem skin. The tired eyes. So taking time out to relearn relaxation isn’t just essential for our minds but it will also benefit our bodies. Magnesium oil poured into a hot bath can rejuvenate a tired and achy body. And booking a luxury Dermalogica facial for troubled skin can give you a great space in your diary just for you.

Rather than remaining addicted to the feeling of constant interaction and the checking off of our to-do list, scheduling empty time for play and leisure can ultimately be the best thing we do for our wellbeing.

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