Are you addicted to stress hormones?

Are you addicted to stress hormones?

When running your own business there will always be more strains and stresses than a regular 9-5. We don’t have set hours, and many of the business needs get dealt with after clients leave the salon and you’re not in service. However, there is also a silent epidemic happening that is hard to identify or pinpoint when the waters of business ownership get muddied. Stress hormone addiction. 


Stress hormone addiction stems from many things but mainly tends to form at home in early childhood. If you grew up in a stressful household where there was conflict, financial issues, or a lot of instability — this “unconformable” state can become your new baseline. When your baseline becomes “somewhat stressful” this can program our brains to crave being under stress —  it almost impossible to “shut off” or enjoy healthy boundaries within your work/life balance. Being comfortable suddenly feels very uncomfortable. 


Cortisol is a stress hormone and is released when we are under duress. Cortisol makes a region in our brains called the nucleus accumbens more sensitive to dopamine (the hormone that is released from pleasure or satisfaction). This can make us seek more stress, as more satisfaction will follow with a dopamine increase. 


The problem is of course, for stress addicts the satisfaction doesn’t last long as the brain doesn’t allow it. To get satisfaction, the brain throws itself back into turmoil in order to make the satisfaction sweeter although short lived. 


Entrepreneurs are often raised in family homes that are under some sort of stress. The saying goes — hard times make strong (wo)men, and easy times make weak (wo)men. Most entrepreneurs are driven by a need to make their own lives or those of their children better than they felt their childhood was. It’s the silver lining of hard circumstance in our lives — it creates ambition, and an acclimation to stress and risk.


So — is it normal business owner stress or are you addicted to stress hormones? Read below to see the top signs of stress addiction. 


  1. You’re constantly checking social media, emails and notifications even when you’re in the middle of a task.
  2. You get bored easily when you don’t have something specific to do. You feel uneasy when you have free time and can’t allow yourself to rest or just exist. 
  3. You keep comparing yourself to others and beat yourself up over not being as successful as someone else. 
  4. You are always busy at work, and like to work under the pressure of deadlines and feel guilt for being unproductive when relaxing or doing self care.
  5. You ignore what makes you happy and are not planning leisure time or time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. 
  6. You are having sleep issues, have a hard time disconnecting at night and you feel tired and overwhelmed during the day. 
  7. You have a hard time maintaining friendships or being present with your partner or kids as there’s “too much on your mind” 


If this is you, rest assured you’re just like almost everyone else in the business world. Being self employed and never being completely guaranteed your next pay cheque is a weight that entrepreneurs deal with all day, everyday. The lie is that you MUST remain stressed in order to ensure you’re “putting in enough effort” at work but the truth is that if you allow yourself to miss the personal side of life, you’ll never get that time back. 


I was addicted to stress hormones for many years. I felt in my childhood that I couldn’t get recognition from my family no matter what I did. It created a hunger in me to become an overachiever to “prove” my worth to not only my family but to everyone around me. 


I would constantly pile too much onto my plate, work until 3am on my phone, or close myself into a room for days while working on a big project — only allowing myself a meal or two with my family. I thought my business success was directly correlated to my self worth. But 6 years into creating Sugarlash PRO I had a circumstance come up that shook that belief to its core and I was faced with the reality of all the moments and years I had missed with my family and kids while they were young. In a flash that I can only describe as what it must be like when life flashes before your eyes before you die — I saw all the moments that I missed. The swimming lessons, the Christmas concerts, the little conversations my toddlers wanted to have with me and I was “too busy”. It was a take your breath away moment and I intensely mourned the time that I could never claw back.


15 years into this crazy career that I have had, and I am more passionate than ever about helping women create stable careers within the lash industry and stop the anxiety and stress cycle. There are certain “steps” that are needed to create secure income that you can scale and grow opposed to staying in the uncertainty of stress-hormone cycle which I will be releasing in my next blog. 


But for now — here are my top tips to allow yourself to breathe.  

  1. Stop scrolling instagram. Just stop. If I could be off of social media altogether, I would be. I do need it for my businesses but I make an active decision to unfollow accounts that make me feel “less than”. There is a line between watching someone “inspiring” and someone who sends you into a self loathing spiral and kicks you into work mode at any hour. Pay attention to what triggers you and sends you into your fight or flight mode. 
  2. Stop paying so much attention to competitors. Watching them too closely gives you the overwhelming desire to replicate what they are doing. Don’t do this. Check in on them once a month maximum to see the lay of the land in your market, but do not obsess. You are your own business owner and your individuality is your strength. Lean into it and think about your customer, not your competitors. 
  3. Time block your schedule. There is a time for services and there is a time for running your business. If you can’t fit your workload into a 40-45h work week, it’s time to outsource. Schedule time to do your business tasks like social content creation, customer outreach, marketing etc. Give these tasks dedicated time within that window, and then rest. 
  4. Have a “shut off” time. It doesn’t need to be right at 5pm, and of course you can be hit with an idea at any time — but try to have a “phone down” time where you allow yourself to be fully present with your loved ones. If an idea pops into your brain, make a quick voice memo and come back to it in your time blocked off for new idea execution. 
  5. Schedule what makes your soul happy. If it’s not in your calendar, you probably won’t do it. Really take note of what you feel is lacking in your personal life and make a schedule for outside business hours. Some ideas are: a weekly date night with your spouse, a family fun night with the kids, a work out class or hobby lesson you’ve put off for too long, a ladies night every couple of weeks, a once a month family getaway with no phones. Start slow, and build out the most important ones first adding on more and more until you feel fulfilled in your business and your personal life. 


You’ve only got one life. You’ve only got so many years. You’ve got a LOT of years to build your business, make adjustments, and improve your income. Don’t let stress hormones run the show and rob you of balance — let your heart take the lead and make sure you take care of you. 


Stay tuned for the next blog: building a stable, non-stressful (lash) business.  


Yours in success, 

Courtney Buhler


Back to Journal Next Post