Are you addicted to Stress?
Most of us know that we should be trying to decrease stress or manage our stress well for overall health, but what if you’re addicted to stress?
Let’s unpack ways that you might know if you’re addicted to stress and why you might be. So if that interests you stick around.
What does it mean to be addicted to stress?
It’s really just the addiction to the stress hormones, how might someone know if that’s the case for them?
When we are addicted to stress or these stress hormones, it means that our body is liking this chemical cocktail of cortisol in our system and there are a lot of reasons why we have cortisol in the body. Cortisol is not all bad, it’s anti-inflammatory, and it can regulate our blood sugar a little bit for us. But the thing is, cortisol is good in small amounts and small doses. That’s the way that it really should work but it’s this long-term exposure to cortisol that’s obviously not good and cortisol can feel good initially.
Whenever we are under stress and our body does, of course, have this response that it secretes cortisol it can feel good and I mean it’s not all bad, right? We’re getting this good feeling, this energy, this may be even alertness from these stress hormones but it’s the prolonged exposure that causes all the things that you hear to be bad because of your stress. There are just a lot of different things that can come from that.
So, I think that being addicted to stress can kind of look a little different for everyone but I want to kind of go through some of these just to see if any strikes a chord with you or sometimes you can even pick out these things in your friends or family.
Crave the cortisol rush
Sometimes we just crave the cortisol rush from some type of workout, so somebody that is usually waking up early to get in intense training or they just get up and hit the floor running.
They could crave that cortisol rush from that type of workout and I could say that our cortisol is higher in the morning. However, it shouldn’t be this intense need to produce that cortisol in our body, it should be a natural thing, that whenever we get up, our cortisol is higher and it gets us going but sometimes these intense workouts can speed that up and intensify it.
People crave coffee all day long to feel human.
Little do we know when we drink coffee, it gives us a rise in cortisol, and we feel like we need that boost. We feel that it’s from the caffeine but it’s actually causing the rise in stress hormones. I think that’s something to think about when you’re addicted to these stress hormones or not.
Also, whenever we seek out stressful situations or events that may not be super obvious like “I’m kind of find myself” in these stressful events and it could be that we’re seeking that out because we need that cortisol release and adrenaline rush. These things are triggering cortisol and so sometimes when we have that need to read a suspenseful book or need to listen to a podcast, it could be an indication that we might be addicted to stress hormones.
Procrastinating on a project is interesting
This is because we’re getting down to the deadline and it gives you that surge of cortisol you’re looking for, so those things that I’ve mentioned would be more of the positive things they’re making overtly but they are making us feel good.
Negative side effects of the excess cortisol
The next things that I wanted to share are other signs and symptoms that may not be very good. One thing is if you’re sort of running on stress hormones you will not be able to stay asleep throughout the night or you might not be able to go to sleep that well. Often times, you’re waking up throughout the night and you just have that pattern of you can’t stay asleep, that could be one sign.
You might also notice that if you go too long between meals like more than an hour or so that you get angry and that you have this sort of blood sugar crash happening. As I mentioned, Cortisol can regulate our blood sugar but if we’re having way too much of it, it can make our blood sugar kind of erratic and we can have these crashes versus a steady blood sugar.
Sometimes, it’s the fact that we feel a lot better on a low carb or Keto. This can signify the fact that we’re running off these stress hormones because whenever we don’t give our body glucose from the food that is on a low carb or Keto, we’re not giving it glucose we’re cutting out carbs and sugars.
What does our body have to do to produce energy? Since our body can make an energy source, it’s just a costly system than just us giving it the fuel that it needs and so part of that system to create the energy is cortisol or stress hormones. So if you feel good about that, it could signify that you are truly sort of addicted to stress hormones.
Fasting can fall into this category and maybe it’s you feel like you can’t focus or do if you’re not fasting like you have all of this clarity while you are fasting and if you’re not you find it hard to concentrate. It’s the same deal with fasting that a lot of times it is on a low carb or keto and we’re not giving our body its preferred form of energy and so it has to make that energy (glucose).
If we are kind of stuck in this cycle of wanting instant results, this can be another sort of indication that our body might be addicted to stress hormones.
So how can we get out of this cycle? To not be addicted to stress hormones and so we don’t feel like we constantly have to be doing anything or we need that hit of energy.
How can we get out of that cycle?
Here are some things to think about, we do need to think about having balanced blood sugar.
It does matter the amount we eat, the type that we eat.
This kind of structure of eating is important because it does go a little bit back to blood sugar. Cortisol does affect your blood sugar a lot, it’s a glucocorticoid type of molecule and it can affect your blood sugar a lot and we want to give our body its preferred source of fuel which is glucose from foods. We don’t want our body to have to make that when we are talking about how to kind of break this cycle.
Many of us may not be doing this on purpose, but we’re under-eating and not taking in enough calories. I mentioned things like low carb or keto, it could even be not that you’re under-eating, it’s that you’re under-representing a macronutrient that can cause the same stress response.
Balance is the key
So, I am a big fan of balance, and as much as we are not cutting out an entire food group. Balance is going to serve you well. I just want you to think about how you’re eating, is it in a stressed state? Are you getting nourishing in the foods you take in? Are you eating a balance of protein fat and carbs in every meal? These are the types of things that can be helpful.
Another thing to think about when exercising, are you going at it hard-core seven days a week? or you’re not doing any exercise? Let’s meet in the middle, I like the two W’s which are “Walking and weights”. So, I think that we can do a lot just by walking. It’s a great way to move our body but weights do help us to continue to build muscle which can help us long-term versus cardio which doesn’t give us any long-term benefit and it can be very taxing on the body. But this depends on where you are with.
Sleep is another big thing to help balance our bodies and to decrease the need for stress hormones. Getting great sleep is important, these things might be helpful to turn work on your sleep.
Trying to keep blood sugar balances throughout the day as much as possible, it’s underrated when you think about taking the overall stress burden off and trying not to kick off that cortisol response.
Giving our body to run off of, which is glucose from food sources, I think it’s important when you think about how to get out of this vicious cycle of being addicted to stress hormones.
It’s not possible…
One last thing I just wanted to mention is that we’re never going to eliminate all stress from our bodies. Sometimes, we’ve been in this cycle for a long time and there’s always grace and it’s going to be a journey that you can’t compare yours to another person.
It’s being more in tune with what’s going on in our body, are we addicted to these stress hormones and how can we maybe break that cycle?
In this whole process trying to help our body to become more resilient to stress and paying attention to these things like nutrition, exercise, and reducing other types of stressors is going to pay off.
In your journey to wellness, you may have tunnel vision… which likely has you chasing your tail. Check out this free video training to help you see the bigger picture, gain clarity, and finally move forward in your health!