I’m guessing many of you reading this post know someone who is a workaholic. They are easily identifiable by the long hours spent at work, the vacations that are few and far between, the weekend trips to the office, and the full schedule maintained even during those (few) moments they aren’t working. They are non-stop! Maybe the workaholic is you. Have you ever said, “So much to do, so little time”? Every day starts with a burst of caffeine, the rest of the day you push yourself to keep pace, and as the day finishes, you round third base and powerslide on home (always just barely in time).
The crowds go wild and you feel exhilarated. You did it! Yet again you survived a very “productive” day. There’s not much time to celebrate though; there’s still tons you can do to get a head start on tomorrow. Maybe if you hurry enough, you can accomplish even more than the day before *double fist pump*. Tired? That’s ok. At 11pm you’ll get a second wind anyway!
The workaholic and adrenaline junkie have a lot in common. Both are hooked on the “high” adrenaline gives. Both are addicted in a way to stress, or at least the surge of adrenaline it causes. Dr. Archibald D. Hart says in his book The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress, “We learn to ‘psych’ ourselves up to a high level of excitement just to feel good. And the danger is that we become dependent on the body’s emergency system to carry out our normal, everyday activities” (Pg. 83).
The problem with this is that living in high gear was only designed for short-term emergencies and crisis, not for prolonged periods of time. If left unchecked, high adrenaline production can cause all kinds of serious damage to the body (high blood pressure, insulin resistance, strokes, digestive problems and heart attacks) and even death. Adrenaline dependence can also lead to adrenal fatigue and adrenal exhaustion. Dr. Hart explains that “stress causes the adrenal cortex or outer layer of the adrenal gland to become enlarged, important lymph nodes to shrink, and the stomach and intestines to become irritated. The adrenal system eventually ‘crashes’ and forces the victim into a state of prolonged and severe fatigue” (Pg. 87). It’s as serious as it sounds, folks!
I was a workaholic, and I learned the hard way what prolonged stress can do to your body. For years I lived off the highs that come with a fast-paced and exciting life. I pushed myself to accomplish each day’s work and more. Though the work was noble, my attitude about my time and energy was naive. Only now after the “crash” do I see how less could have been more. Yes, there is so much to do, but God has given me only a little time.
My encouragement to you is to slow down, and if you are already crashing, take a break. Your body is in overdrive and breaking down. By now you’ve probably already had concerned family and friends notice your health choices and some have even warned you, but it’s hard to stop, right? I get it. There may be a lot you’ll have to give up. You may be afraid of boredom or losing out in life. To make matters worse, there are adrenaline withdrawal symptoms to overcome. Common symptoms may include:
- A strong compulsion to be ‘doing something’ while at home or on vacation
- an obsession with thoughts about what remains undone
- a feeling of vague guilt while resting
- fidgeting, restlessness, pacing, leg kicking or fast gum chewing, and inability to concentrate for very long on any relaxing activity, feelings of irritability and aggravation
- a vague (or sometimes profound) feeling of depression whenever you stop an activity (Adrenaline and Stress, Pg. 86).
Anyone living off adrenaline (which is a lot of people!) may experience these symptoms daily. Whenever things slow down, we get antsy. Though taking it down a notch may be challenging, it’s so important to lower this hormone’s production while you are still healthy. Take it from me: You don’t want your body to lower it for you!
It gets easier, though. Calming down may take a while, but it is so worth it! Let me know if you have any questions about adrenaline dependence, fatigue or exhaustion, and for sure let me know if you’re ready to make some life changes!
If you’re interested in digging deeper into stress damage and how to recover, I highly recommend reading The Hidden Link Between Adrenaline and Stress: The Exciting New Breakthrough That Helps You Overcome Stress Damage by Archibald D. Hart.
Please share this with your friends and loved ones especially if you’re concerned that they are in danger of adrenal fatigue or exhaustion.