Confessions of An Adrenaline Junkie
This ode du adrenaline is written exclusively by a self- confessed adrenaline junkie. As I sit here at Gloria Jeans Coffee sipping my second one for the day, experiencing jet-lag after a 32 hour transit from West Africa to Australia, working through 8 different screens on my safari browser, dance music through the earphones to help keep my ‘my beat’, and a failing recognition
(borderline denial) of my sore limbs after having gone for 2 x 8km runs two days consecutive, not to mention a page-long to do list, ONE thing is becoming clear – I’m back on the adrenaline!!
A-Typers, budding entrepreneurs, ambitious and striving –mothers, business women and all you do-gooder go getters, rest assured built-up adrenaline will be the end of you if you don’t monitor it carefully. Before you know it, you’ll be lying on the floor in the fetal position stressed out of your mind. Depending on the severity, you may also be sucking your thumb.
As a former pro athlete, adrenaline is a hormone I’ve relied on to keep me active, alert, competitive and agile. It’s also something I need in my daily life to complete my missions, achieve my targets and reach my goals. Without adrenaline, we’d all be living a blissful, stress free existence in a Buddhist temple deep in the caves of Nepal – kind of what I feel like doing a lot of time, and a great idea for anyone wanting to come off an adrenaline- high period.
Adrenaline is a necessary evil. We need adrenaline to keep us storming, evolving, creating and performing. But too much of it without the right wellness measures in place, and it’s a recipe for many stress-related ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, psychological conditions and that general ‘burnt out’ feeling. Build it up in your body for too long (the dangers of cortisol), and you may well set yourself back from achieving your ultimate wins and wants.
So what is Adrenaline?
Adrenaline is a hormone with the purpose of releasing neurotransmitters into the bloodstream to increase heart activity, and increase the rate and depth of breathing in response to any physical or mental stress. We release adrenaline based on the Fight or Flight stress response.
The stress response today is simply the same response used by our primitive cave-man ancestors for survival as they faced threats of daily life. Unfortunately, our bodies still react the same way to threats – real or imagined – even though, in a vast majority of cases, the stressor does not require us to fight or flee.
As Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson remarked, “The fight-or-flight emergency response is inappropriate to today’s social stresses.” In the short run, this response is a powerful and useful process, however kept “on” for a longer period; this response can produce serious problems.
So how do you know when adrenaline is being overused?
Here are some thoughts, behaviors and situations that may come up in your day when you’re overusing adrenaline:
- Feelings of guilt for taking time off and taking time out
- You don’t feel truly immersed in your daily work and there’s a general feeling of ‘I can’t get stuff done’.
- You’re pushed and pulled in many directions without that free feeling or ‘flow’, that moves you toward your goals effortlessly. Concentration becomes a difficult task.
- You click frantically between Tumbler, twitter, pintrest, google+, soundcloud, huffingtonpost, ANZbanking, Facebook, Blogger, Hotmail, Gmail, LinkedIn, 2 x working projects – MSWord and MSPowerpoint, typing with one hand and your i-phone in the other! Read this sentence really fast and tell me if you feel dizzy or out of breathe.
- You’re always saying no to social appointments because ‘you’re too busy with work’
- Aggression / Anger / Irritability and Blaming Others
- Arriving late to all your appointments with the same underpinning, drama-queen excuse ‘Oh my goodness, I’m soooo sorry, I’ve just been so busy!!!’
- Feeling the ‘itch’ and like you’re out of your skin. Tense shoulders and forgetting to breathe. Other physical symptoms such as bad digestion, nail biting, sweating, dry mouth and bad skin.
- Fatigued, Drained, Lethargic and the BLAH feeling….
If this sounds like you, it’s time to check yourself before you wreck yourself!–
So how do you monitor adrenaline and keep it from impacting your ability to perform at your peak?
Like anything in life, what’s required is balance. Balance + Energy = Performance. We need energy (adrenaline, nutrition and our regulatory bodily systems) to live, but without the right balance, it can be trying, and even dangerous, performing the many tasks required for everyday life and work.
Here are Some Easy Steps to Control your Adrenaline and Keep it Balanced:
1. Take the “Are You Addicted to Adrenaline Self Test?” as a guide to see if you’re currently running on pure adrenaline. Be well attuned to your body and know when adrenaline, rather than ‘balanced energy’ is dominating your day. Don’t kid yourself either. The more you do, the more you won’t succeed when adrenaline is taking charge.
2. Take a Minute to Reflect, Rather Than Do. In periods of high stress and transition, we tend to rely on adrenaline to get us through. This can be a good coping mechanism, but too much and we face health risks and burnout.
Go on a daily meditative walk (not a 10km run), spend time journaling, do a restorative yoga class (not bikram yoga), meditate and create time for easy conversations and outings with friends…go on a Holiday! The main thing here is pay attention to your inner voice – chill out, relax and be mindful!
3, Take priority on what’s a priority – and don’t create a to- do list for your to- do list. Take on a higher approach to yourself, and be a non-doer for once whilst answering these questions…
- What’s not working in my life right now and why?
- What’s really and truly important here?
- What’s making my life/work so complicated and how can I simplify?
- What are the 5 main goals I have over the next 3 months and how will I achieve them?
- What can I partake in to ensure I reach my goals mindfully and effortlessly?
Write these answers down on a sheet of paper, rip it out of your scrap book, stick it on your fridge, and use this as a simple plan to overcoming your ‘period of adrenaline’
4. Sleep, Eat Well and Exercise – These are the three physiological components to our cave-man survival existence, and the cornerstone to practicing Extreme Self Care.
Simply put, find time for reasonable exercise, eat nutritiously and keep away from alcohol, caffeine, sugars and chocolate. And don’t feel guilty for straying. Guilt is adrenaline fuel! Be sure to get your vitamin imbalance corrected and Get your sleep! Also just use you common sense, you know what I’m saying??
Adrenaline is not a drug, it’s a natural physiological response within our templed bodies. You need it to survive, but abuse it, and it WILL become your drug. Balance is your key to managing adrenaline and getting through periods of high stress…not by doing more.
Become a master of your physiological body and you’ll see your intuitive and intellectual mind follow suit. Ensure to tic-tac along mindfully with the right wellness measures in place, as well as stay tuned to your internal physical body, and then watch yourself become a true warrior and a better more solid high-performer.
What are some ways you manage adrenaline and stress to maintain peak performance?
Ana is a young Senior Manager in Projects & Construction working for Fortune 500 companies. As an elite sports-woman, her entire life Ana has explored how the body and mind function best. . She also runs her own coaching business and is an advocate for young women and children aspiring to dream.