“I’m Heidi, and I’m a stressaholic,” effuses Heidi Hanna in her new book Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship With Stress. (Wiley, 2014) The author, speaker and health and performance expert gets straight to business in her new book, pulls no punches and delivers the goods on the good, the bad and the ugly of stress.
Talking about ugly, she gets to the core of this nasty addiction that the American Institute of Stress (Hanna resides on the board) estimates, causes 75%-90% of doctors’ visits.
Hanna offers tools, that even she says seem to be common sense, but are unfortunately not common practice in managing this menacing driver of potential burnout.
As an addiction, she says stress, “affects us at multiple levels of our operating system — biological, psychological and social.” Hanna illustrates this with her own story about her fears of public speaking and flying. The book is like a pocket guide to stress management, focusing on tools, strategies and the latest research which has allowed the scientific community to learn more about stress and its impact on our bodies, brains and attention.
Hanna also sheds light on the misconceptions about all stress being evil. There is good stress, that kind of motivational stress known as eustress, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, chronic stress. That’s the kind that can lead one into burnout or as Hanna contends, addiction.
She says everything comes down to energy management. There are three main reasons, Hanna says, we become addicted to stress:
1. Stimulation: We get energized by stress. She says that’s why we often wait until the last minute to get things done. That quick release of cortisol gets us going, but chronically it’s inflammatory to our system. It destroys brain cells. We can’t think logically.
2. Distraction: Sometimes we’ll keep working rather than deal with what’s really bothering us. Distraction helps us to avoid other feelings that might be under the surface. Things like loneliness or not being good enough.
3. Validation: The busier we are, the more stressed we are, the more important we are in our societies.
“The key is we have to oscillate, we can’t stay up all the time. We can’t flatline our way through the day. We have to create these ups and downs,” says Hanna. She says Stressaholics is about training ourselves to be more comfortable in the periods of rest and learning ways to recharge ourselves. That gives us the energy to meet stress head-on, and be extraordinary.
In this episode of the Work & Well Being Update with Judy Martin, Hanna reveals her 5 step formula and also goes deep into the impact of stress on our work performance. We had a great conversation, with Heidi sharing wonderful insights along with some good laughs. To read more about Stressaholic and order, click here.