5 Signs You're Addicted To Stress

Written by Nicole Liloia, LCSW

I consider myself to be a former stress addict. Just a few years ago, I was stressed out all the time and thought that was the way life was supposed to be. I made sure I was always busy, and I didn't do anything that would help me stress less. I stayed in a job that made me unhappy and didn't allow me to earn enough money to have a better quality of life, and I was always complaining about this lack of money.

When I did have free time, I wasted it by zoning out on bad TV and disconnecting from the world. When I spent time with my friends, it was filled with my complaints about work and anything else that wasn't going the way I wanted.

Luckily, I realized that being a stress addict wasn't the way I wanted to live my life, and I changed my habits. Here are five signs you might be a stress addict.

1. You complain a lot.

Are your nights out with friends filled with complaints about work, your frustrating family, or just life in general? Do you look forward to telling everyone how hard your life is and how nothing will make it better? Stress addicts love to complain about how tough their lives are. They have a hard time focusing on any positive aspects of their life, and usually feel like their lives are harder than everyone else's.

2. You don't have any free time.

Are you always busy? Do you feel like you can never plan anything fun because you'll never have enough time to fit it in? Stress addicts move on autopilot from one activity to the next. They think that a packed schedule means success, but it more often leads to their being too busy or tired to enjoy the fun moments in their lives. If they have have downtime, they reward themselves with mindless activities that allow them to disconnect from the present moment and then feel guilty about wasting time.

3. You believe the payoff later on will be greater if you're unhappy now.

Do you think if you work extra hard now and are always stressed it will lead to more success later on? Stress addicts usually feel unfulfilled, spending their time worrying about the future, but don't realize they have control over what's going on with the present. They believe their hard work will lead to better things later on, but forget to enjoy their current situations.

4. Your relationships are suffering.

Do you struggle to maintain friendships for long periods of time? Do others tell you that you don't know how to communicate? Stress addicts are so focused on accomplishing tasks all the time that they forget to connect with and appreciate the people in their lives. They see them as appointments and something else that needs to be fit into their schedule. They feel disconnected during their time with their family and friends, because they're worried about work and other tasks that believe they should be doing. They're not present with their family.

5. You can't remember what makes you happy.

Do you worry more about completing tasks on your to-do list then you do about having fun? Can you remember the last time you actually took a day off from work, or from just being busy? Stress addicts struggle to recognize what makes them happy, and don't know how to enjoy their free time because they're always worried about what might happen next. They can't remember how to stay in the present moment long enough to enjoy it.

If you recognize yourself in any of these signs, then you're going to want to start slowing down so you can stress less and enjoy your life more.

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