As teenagers or young adults, even the strongest of us had an emo phase. Listening to sad songs on fairly happy days became a habit and the world seemed oh, so ugly! I still remember how each September welcomed a flurry of social posts with ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’. Or how the song, ‘tune mere jaana’, and the maudlin yet false story behind it, depressed even the single folks. Simply put, we were addicted to pain and sadness.
Fast forward a few years and sadness just doesn’t feel the same way. It doesn’t make you feel alive like it used to. Rather, it just makes you bitter and acts as an obstacle in your day to day flow. Does that mean you are happier? No! It means you’re addicted to something else. Stress! The long working hours, incessant emails and non-existent weekends were horrible at first. But as time passed, you stopped banging on the wall and simply accepted the cortisol knocking at your door.
Someone, I know recently switched from a high-stress job to one with a lot of free hours. On paper, it looked ideal. More time for themselves and a chance to finally start ticking things off from their bucket list. In reality, however, it made them super anxious and clueless about what to do with their time. I notice this personally when I take leaves and go on trips. The nature, slow tick of the clock and fresh air are supposed to rejuvenate you. But for the first day at least, it feels horrible. I don’t enjoy at all and I miss the fast-paced life. I tend to hide myself in social media and other meaningless internet activities, something I could do from my toilet seat back home. The vast emptiness makes me crave for the city where time keeps running by. I miss the pressure!
Now, this doesn’t mean that you and I are masochists. Addiction stems in escape and these stressful jobs have become a brilliant alternate reality. It gives you an excuse to not sit and ponder about your declining health, deteriorating relationships and missed opportunities. Instead, you grind yourself for hours in the day and a few at night, with a sense that you’re contributing to something bigger than you. Then you get some time off on the weekend which you binge away without contemplation. This doesn’t leave any room for sadness!
But being addicted to stress is way more harmful than being addicted to sadness. It affects your body in ways that you’re not yet aware of. What appears as a friendly escape is your biggest enemy. So, how can you stop being an addict? Try these:
Take sabbaticals often
I don’t need to list down all the tricks that your organization plays with you but one sweet poison deserves a special mention. ‘Giving a sense of importance!’ No, not at the time of appraisals, but when you ask for a leave. Your superiors will behave as if the company will go bankrupt if you take a few days off. It boosts your ego but it’s just a lie. Without once doubting your talent and contributions, I would like to tell you that you are not that important to your organization. Your absence for a few days might slow things down but the machine will keep running. So, take more leaves and go out to places you’ve never been to. Be more assertive when asking for sabbaticals. It is your right!
Force yourself to be free
Save time on travel. If you can, move closer to your workplace. Even if it’s a bit expensive, shell out some money for yourself. It will be much more rewarding than Amazon sales.
Also, I’ve seen many people staying back at the office because they don’t have anything to do at home. Stop doing that! Leave the premises as soon as your work is done and do something that makes you happy, even if for a few minutes.
Try doing something you’re not good at love doing challenging work? Challenge yourself to something else. If you haven’t exercised a day in your life, try working out for a few days. Not like a fitness buff, but just something that makes you challenge your strength. When you fail to do a single pushup, either you will give up or you will force yourself to do it the next day, then two, three and probably ten by the end of the week. If you call it quits, then try learning a language on Duolingo. Its constant notifications will irritate you into completing its daily tasks but when you do, satisfaction will follow.
These are just a few things out of the many you can do to get out of the lust for stress. Life will remain a rollercoaster, but not all the screams are cries of joy.