Is busyness an addiction?


Is ‘I am busy’ your typical answer to the question ‘How are you’?

Our society puts a high value on being busy. If you work in an environment where you constantly need to achieve something under challenging circumstances, there is a chance that your chronically stressed out brain can become dependent on dopamine. By activating the dopamine reward centre in the brain that feeds us feel-good endorphins, stress can temporarily boost performance, explaining why some of us appear to get so much done under pressure.

If you are addicted to being busy and under pressure you might find the following statements familiar:

*  You find it difficult to switch off your working brain.

* You feel ‘at your best’ when you are at your busiest.

*  You feel uncomfortable / panicky / guilty when there is a white space in the calendar and you could enjoy a bit of ‘you time’. You have no idea what to do with that extra time and miss the buzz around you.

*  You set extremely high standards for yourself and others. In other words you are a perfectionist.

*  You need to exercise to self regulate and get moody or emotional when you miss your exercise routine.

* You prioritise work over friends and family.

It is not easy to discover the unhealthy pattern in our every day life. For me the breaking point was in 2012 when I talked to one of my best friends over the phone and said ‘I can see you between 2 and 4pm on Sunday.’ I instantly felt my heart sink and knew something was very wrong. I also knew that I had to change, so that’s when I started to explore the concept of simplicity.

When you decide to change your ‘being busy pattern’ there are a few very important things to keep in mind:

*  Being curious about what’s going on is key. Being busy and being stressed usually go hand in hand even if you are not aware of it. You can learn the little signals (your stress response) and train your body and mind to deal with it more efficiently. Stress is only beneficial if our bodies have the resilience to manage it.

*  We don’t want a world without stress, because we need that stimulation for growth. The key issue is to learn the difference between the healthy pressure of a challenge, and excessive stress which causes distress and eventually, disease. Everyone’s stress level is different – what is challenging and motivating for you might be overwhelming for someone else.

I would highly recommend re-learning relaxation. As a child we all knew how to relax but somewhere along the way we simply forgot. Practicing relaxation regularly gives you the opportunity to look after yourself on many levels, change your behaviors, enjoy some quality rest and improve your cognitive skills.

If I can help you with re-learning relaxation please do not hesitate to email or phone me.


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