It could be why you procrastinate!
We generally think of stress as a bad thing. With ADD / ADHD, the word stress often goes hand in hand with being overwhelmed and paralyzed, — not a good feeling!
If that’s the case, why do people with ADD so often create situations that are stressful? In the ADD / ADHD Work Challenges survey sent out last week, “Procrastination” was reported to be the number one problem people experienced at work. Generally, when you procrastinate on starting a work-related project, you’re going to end up stressed in a number of ways:
- Scrambling to finish on deadline
- Hiding from your boss or client to avoid admitting the work hasn’t been done
- Feeling ashamed of your lack of productivity
So why do we procrastinate so often?
The ADD neurological explanation is simple enough: When we anticipate a task to be boring, too difficult, ambiguous or unpleasant, we have difficulty kick-starting our neurotransmitters in order to focus our attention on starting it. However, once the deadline is near enough to generate a feeling of concern or tension, adrenaline kicks into gear. Adrenaline is associated with the “fight or flight” response.
Fight or Flight?
If you are someone for whom panic-produced adrenaline creates anxiety and paralysis, your brain is attempting to take “flight.” Most likely, stress makes you miserable. You could be considered one of the lucky ones, because you unequivocally will feel much happier once you learn strategies to control your procrastination.
On the other hand, since Adult ADD / ADHD looks different for everyone, you might be someone who has the opposite response. For you, adrenaline brings on your ability to jump into action — to “fight” — which suddenly allows you to focus and get the work done at the last minute.
But there’s a second component to it with ADD: the need for stimulation. Every time you succeed in pulling off a last-minute victory, such as squeaking in a project by deadline, you get a rush of stimulation. It’s similar to the exhilarated feeling of “dodging a bullet.” Working on a project over time, in a steady, sensible way, would not provide this same kind of intense high. When you thrive on stress, surviving another crisis makes you feel alive.
This is why you could say that many people with ADD / ADHD are addicted to stress, and seem to spend their lives careening from crisis to chaos. When things are calm and predictable, the crisis junkie is bored, and may unconsciously revert to old stress-inducing habits because the stress is actually more comfortable. If this feels like you, you might need to find other ways to get your “stimulation fix” in order to successfully kick a procrastination habit.
What’s your pattern when it comes to stress? Click here to answer in a 2-question survey.