While drafting this article, I turned to my boyfriend and asked him what he saw as signs of addiction to stress. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know, what’s your personality like?” He’s right; between three majors, two internships, three jobs, a thesis to write and sports to play, I hardly find time to eat, much less shower or clean the apartment. Sound familiar? See if these signs of stress addiction apply to your life.
1. You procrastinate for fun.
Face it: everyone procrastinates. You find yourself saying that this next episode of Gilmore Girls, which you’ve seen at least twice, is more important than studying for your O-Chem class. But when you’re addicted to stress, you do it for fun. Let’s get scientific for a moment: your adrenaline and cortisol increase when you feel stressed, essentially giving you a natural high. So instead of shooting up heroin behind a 7-11, we leave our homework until the last moment. How rebellious.
2. You work best under pressure.
Someone always says that I should probably get my work done, and I give the same excuse–I work best under pressure. This goes hand in hand with procrastination, but when you’re in denial about quality of work, you’ve reached a new level of addiction. Somehow you convinced yourself that you provide your most quality English paper when slurping down Starbucks lattes at three in the morning. Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
3. You major in journalism.
Only the clinically insane try to make it in the journalism world. The word ‘deadline’ takes a whole new meaning when you work for the student newspaper, need interviews and articles for class and work an internship. If you find yourself addicted to stress, welcome to the vocation where stress isn’t just a word, it’s a way of life.
4. You know you’re stressed and don’t do anything about it.
We all deal with stress differently: warm baths, tea, dressing up as a clown and frightening small children. But those of us who live for stress don’t find pleasure in calming down or taking a break. We see the tiredness, inability to focus and scattered thoughts and we do nothing about them. We would rather our hair fall out than sit still for a few minutes.
5. You turn in things with minutes to spare on purpose.
Last semester I found myself sprinting to the English department to turn in my final paper for my comparative literature class. I finished it the previous night, but there I was, with minutes to spare, clutching onto my paper. It takes procrastination one dangerous step further. The thrill that stress gives us makes us do crazy things.
6. You know you have too much going on, but you still keep adding obligations.
You want to do it all and see it all. I get it, I understand. I want to accomplish everything on my list of to-dos right now, but that’s just not realistically possible–especially since I’ll probably never be an astronaut or live to see the first anthropomorphic animal president. That stress addiction makes you add things to your list; you try to do it all and sometimes you succeed. Other times you find yourself wearing your soccer cleats to your ballet recital. Maybe you should only stick to four extracurricular activities.
7. You haven’t slept in two days, and you don’t care.
Who needs sleep? You have to do laundry, watch that new episode of Doctor Who and finish your econ homework. You would have done it during the day, but you couldn’t find the time. By the time you get to bed, the clock shows 4 AM and your mind races with ideas, plans and to-do lists. At this point it would take some serious sleeping pills to get you to stop going.
8. You consider caffeine to be your best friend.
With all that sleep you’ve lost lately, you need something to keep you awake. Now your Starbucks card is maxed out and every barista within a 2-mile radius knows your name. Know the signs. If you see your barista more than you see your friends, you probably should cool it on the caffeine and try to focus on why you haven’t been sleeping.
9. You’re described as a workaholic.
If the Energizer Bunny is your spirit animal, you might have a problem with stress. Your friends have started calling you a workaholic. And unlike the characters on the TV show of the same name on Comedy Central, you may actually push yourself too hard. The stress does provide a rush, but maybe you should sit back and relax once in a while. And don’t just put it in your day planner, actually do it.
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