Have you had this conversation lately?
Friend: How’s it going?
You: I’m insanely tsy. You know the usual, kids, family, work.
Friend: Yeah, me too.
You: It’s nuts, I can’t even remember the last time I took a real vacation!
Friend: Well, at least we are busy, right?
As a society we are suffering from the “Addiction of being busy”
An amazing speaker and author, Brené Brown teaches that we use numbing behaviours in order to amor ourselves against vulnerability. If you think numbing doesn’t apply to you because you are not using drugs or alcohol, think again…
“One of the most universal numbing strategies is what I call crazy-busy,” says Brené Brown.
At some point we created a culture of people who believe that if we are busy enough we can be protected from or avoid the truth of our lives.
In some degree the basic underlying principles of all additions are the same. We shame additions to sex, drugs, etc. but somehow we have normalized evened praised the addition to being busy. Are we really doing ourselves any favours by creating an illusion of such high expectations?
It has become apparent to me that too many of us see “busyness” as a badge of honour. When did we created this idea that, “If I am busy, then I am important and valuable. If the later is true then I must be worthy.”
Is it possible that we feel this way because if we were to suddenly have more down time, then we would be forced to reflect upon on lives? Is it possible that what comes out in the silence is not something you want to look at?
The addiction to being busy is not only a maladaptive escape of vulnerability, it is certainly not healthy for us.
The health effects of Chronic Stress:
Brain: A 2013 Literature review showed that chronic stress impairs serotonin (5-HT) neurotransmission and 5-HT receptor sensitivity and is a major risk factor for developing major depression (2). Chronic stress also has been shown to be an etiologic factor in chronic pain, fatigue and migraines (3,4).
Hair: Chronic psychoemotional stress causes oxidative stress and cutaneous nerve fibres to release substance P. Through the substance P mast cell pathway chronic stress has been shown to inhibit hair growth (5).
Thyroid: During stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, with the sympathetic-adrenal system, is activated, resulting in increased glucocorticoids and catecholamines, respectively. With more research it is becoming clear that stress, suppresses cellular immunity and potentiating humoral immunity. There is strong evidence from epidemiological studies as well as clinical reports an association between stress and thyroid disruption (6).
Heart: Adrenaline and cortisol that are released during the stress response, elevate blood pressure and cause your heart to beat faster. If these effects are chronic you are at increased risk of heart disease (7).
Pancreas: Stress elevates blood sugar in order to provide your muscles with immediate energy. What happens is over time cells become resistant to insulin. This increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin insensitivity (10).
Stomach: Stress alters the communication between the brain and gut resulting in low vagal tone. A high plasma epinephrine level and low vagal tone a marker of unadapted sympathetic activity and is see in IBS and Crohn’s disease (11).
Reproductive System: High cortisol blocks progesterone from binds to its receptor which promotes an estrogen dominant state that may be responsible for the development of PMS symptoms and infertility (12).
Immune System: Stress hormone, through its effector pathways, suppresses cellular immunity and potentiates humoral immunity. This has been postulated to be the mechanism contributing to the development of auto-immune disease but also increases your risk of infection and vulnerability to disease (6,8,9).
Brené Brown suggests asking yourself the following questions : Are my choices comforting and nourishing my spirit, or are they temporary reprieves from vulnerability and difficult emotions ultimately diminishing my spirit? Are my choices leading my Wholeheartedness, or do they leave me feeling empty and searching?
Think about your actions… Is there something behind your sticky notes and to-do lists? Is there a better way to care for yourself so you don’t feel a need to fill the void with busyness?
Give yourself permission and be at ease with slowing down – xoxo Breanne
- Brene brown
- . Mahar, Ian, et al. “Stress, serotonin, and hippocampal neurogenesis in relation to depression and antidepressant effects.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 38 (2014): 173-192.
- Sauro, Khara M., and Werner J. Becker. “The stress and migraine interaction.” Headache: The journal of head and face pain 49.9 (2009): 1378-1386.
- Van Houdenhove, Boudewijn, Ulrich Egle, and Patrick Luyten. “The role of life stress in fibromyalgia.” Current rheumatology reports 7.5 (2005): 365-370.
- Mahar, Ian, et al. “Stress, serotonin, and hippocampal neurogenesis in relation to depression and antidepressant effects.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 38 (2014): 173-192.
- Tsatsoulis, Agathocles. “The role of stress in the clinical expression of thyroid autoimmunity.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1088.1 (2006): 382-395.
- Cooper, Cary L., and Judi Marshall. “Occupational sources of stress: A review of the literature relating to coronary heart disease and mental ill health.” Journal of occupational psychology 49.1 (1976): 11-28.
- Segerstrom, Suzanne C., and Gregory E. Miller. “Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry.” Psychological bulletin 130.4 (2004): 601.
- Dorshkind, Kenneth, and Nelson D. Horseman. “Anterior pituitary hormones, stress, and immune system homeostasis.” Bioessays 23.3 (2001): 288-294.
- Rask, Eva, et al. “Tissue-specific dysregulation of cortisol metabolism in human obesity.” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 86.3 (2001): 1418-1421.
- Pellissier, Sonia, et al. “Relationship between vagal tone, cortisol, TNF-alpha, epinephrine and negative affects in Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome.” PLoS One 9.9 (2014): e105328.
- Wirth, Michelle M., et al. “Relationship between salivary cortisol and progesterone levels in humans.” Biological Psychology 74.1 (2007): 104-107.