Balancing time helps combat stress addiction
Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 18:05
How much is on your plate? No, not your dinner plate: your life plate.
How many servings of time-consuming activities do you pile on? Ever go back for seconds?
My plate is always overflowing. I seldom have time to come up for air between each spoonful.
It never occurred to me, however, that the reason my to-do list is comparable in length to War and Peace could be because I am addicted to stress.
In a Women's Health magazine article, Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace, and Presence, said that tension can become addictive.
When stressed, the body releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure and increase glucose, a type of sugar, in the bloodstream. These responses cause the addiction-like tension.
College students are no stranger to such stress-induced adrenaline rushes.
You stay up until 3 a.m. to finish your ten-page paper because you spent the days prior cramming for your big test. But wait, you have to get sleep because tomorrow you are scheduled to work at your internship then hit the books for your other big test. Don't forget about the homework due for your three other classes and the student organization meetings occurring later that day. By the way, if you want to go to graduate school you should start studying for the GRE, like, yesterday.
Some stress in college is inevitable. Those all-too-enticing résumé-boosters you keep adding to your schedule, however, are only adding to the problem.
The truth is many people are indeed addicted to stress or a high-anxiety lifestyle but are unaware until it begins damaging their health.
Too much stress can lead to excessive drinking, overeating and lack of motivation: what I like to refer to as "mental meltdown Monday" or "finals week."
On the more life-threatening side, stress can lead to heart disease and suppression of the immune system.
So my advice to you: don't bite off more than you can chew.
Do not be fooled by your smaller-than-average credit load; summer classes are notoriously fast-paced.
As tempting as it is for us newly-diagnosed stress addicts to go overboard, set a realistic limit. The beginning of a new semester is a great time to evaluate what you are capable of managing.
When you are able to handle your daily activities successfully and with minimal stress, feel free to add some dessert to your plate.