The Good Work Book Blog
Adrenaline overload as a cause of work stress
Adrenaline and its associate, the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, are responsible for the ability to respond quickly to threat. They also help to give us mental clarity. They come to our aid in any stressful situation that requires immediate action and a sharp mind, such as demanding, emotionally charged moments at work. They assist people remain on the job even in the face of fatigue and numerous pressures.
Unfortunately they are also addictive.
People who can’t slow down usually have some degree of an addiction to the benefits of adrenaline. They call upon these substances to keep them an extra boost under pressure. However chronic stress, if continued for a long time, can damage many parts of the body. And a large part of the damage is due to the effects of continual norepinephrine release: sleeplessness, loss of libido, gastrointestinal problems, weakened immune system, depression, and vulnerability to addiction.
It makes good sense, then, to wean yourself off a dependence on adrenaline.
The question is: how to do it? It is not an easy thing to do, particularly if you are one of the many people who have a weak ability to let go of stress naturally.
The first step in changing a pattern of reliance on the stress hormones is to make a point of becoming aware of the state of your body throughout the day. At the moment you are reading this blog, stop for a moment to scan through your body. Notice tension spots? Ask yourself if your posture needs adjusting? Are your hands or feet cold? Is your jaw tight? Is your mouth dry suggesting that you need a drink of water?
These observations take only a few seconds but in making them you are noticing those needs of your body that, if addressed, will automatically help your body to rebalance and become less stressed. Your need for the double-edged sword of adrenaline/ norepinephrine will be a little reduced as you slow down to listen to it and to make the necessary adjustments.
Of course, this is just a beginning in learning to slow down. However, the self-awareness that a regular body scan brings can gradually be directed towards making adjustments to your work processes to make them easier and more comfortable.
You can also develop your natural ability to let go of stress by regularly using the Stress Relief visualization in The Good Work Book. (See page 66). This technique will begin to create a brand new response to stressful situations provided you take the time to repeat it until a new neural pathway is established. The best way to do that is to practice it after a stressful day or before going to sleep at night. It may also give you a better night’s rest.
If you have any questions as a result of doing the exercise, please use the comment field.