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Are You Addicted to Adrenaline and Headed for Burnout?

Gary E Wood

Visitors: 421

They call it the hurry disease. Are you addicted to adrenaline? And more importantly, are you setting yourself up for workplace burnout?

It's everywhere, schools, boardrooms, hospitals, churches, municipal offices, stores and anyplace else you might care to mention. Wherever you have people who are racing to activity and crunched by unreal expectations and timelines you will find adrenaline addiction. That's why there are so many Internet searches for nursing burnout, executive burnout and stress management information. Stressed people want real live help.

Here is the simple lay version of how adrenaline works. You need to know this because controlling adrenaline is one of the critical factors in reducing stress.

The brain says, “Get ready for action. "

A signal goes to the adrenal gland.

The adrenal gland releases adrenaline to marshal the body for action.

Adrenaline heads for the brain to keep it awake and alert.

Adrenaline causes the heart to pump harder so blood can get to every part that will need to act.

Adrenaline heads for the muscles so they can tense up ready to move.

Adrenaline heads for the stomach so it can more quickly digest food for the increased energy that will be required to act.

Blood is removed from the extremities so it can be reassigned to needed organs.

In brief, vital organs are on high alert so the perceived need can be met. Normally the need is met, high alert is called off, adrenaline levels go down and the body rests.

What are some of the warning signals you might get from sustained adrenaline levels, the kind cause by a hurry, anxiety filled, always-on-call, get it right or get fired lifestyle?

You have trouble sleeping because the brain stays awake and alert.

You are tired and sluggish because the heart is kept working harder.

The head and back ache because the muscles stay tensed for action.

Assorted stomach problems persist because of increased acid production.

Your hands and feet are cold because blood is redirected elsewhere.

It doesn't take a doctor's analysis for you get the picture. Elevated adrenaline levels caused by sustained stress can lead to all sorts of nasty repercussions.

Does it make sense to do something about it now? Of course. Letting adrenaline levels return to rest is critical.

Here are the questions you need to think seriously about:

  • Do you have warning signals that have been ‘sustained'?
  • Have you ruled out other medical causes?
  • What part would reducing adrenaline levels play in achieving better health for you personally?
  • What are you willing to do about it?
  • When will you start?

Personal Effectiveness Coach Gary Wood is creator of The Beat Burnout Course and the Personal Effectiveness Program. Gary has worked for over a decade assisting executives, leaders and professionals to beat burnout and less stressfully but more effectively move forward significant causes, projects and programs which make a difference in the lives of people. Helpful resources for dealing with burnout are at and


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