The New Habit Challenge: Can Listing Our Accomplishments Cure Our Stress Addiction?

We may be addicted to stress, but that doesn’t mean we can’t break the cycle. Will this new habit be the first step we need to recovery?

The New Habit Challenge: Can Listing Our Accomplishments Cure Our Stress Addiction?
Stress ball: Chutima Chaochaiya via Shutterstock]

Whether you’re a senior executive running a company, an intern at a small startup, or somewhere in between, you likely have a stressful day from time to time.


Stress can sneak up on you. As a new study published in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal found, several factors in our lives apart from work itself–like your home or social life–can contribute to workplace burnout. And in some strange, masochistic way, we sort of enjoy it.

According to Heidi Hanna, author of Stressaholic: 5 Steps to Transform Your Relationship with Stress, the more we experience stress, the more we form a neurochemical dependence on it. In layman’s terms, we are addicted to stress.

Stress, however, isn’t always a bad thing. For one thing it keeps us alive by alerting us when we are in danger. It can also stimulate us to work harder or faster. “We don’t want a world without stress, because we need that stimulation for growth,” Hanna says.

But more often than not the bad outweighs the good, and too much stress can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stress contributes to up to 90% of all medical visits.

While it’s impossible to completely avoid stress, there are several ways to manage it. One simple method comes to us from researchers from the University of Minnesota, which found that noting your accomplishments at the end of the day helps to reduce your stress levels.

When researchers tracked a group of workers over 15 days, logging their blood pressure and reported stress symptoms like fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and headaches, they observed lower stress levels as participants wrote down positive events they experienced that day and why those things made them feel good.


Interestingly, much like non-work-related stressors can cause burnout at work, non-work-related positive events also decreased stress levels at work. According to the study, 40% of the end-of-day reflections had nothing to do with work and they still contributed to lower stress levels.

For the next week, I plan to give these daily reflections a shot and will journal my accomplishments and why they made me feel good at the end of each day. I hope you’ll join me.

Log on to our New Habit Challenge Live Chat on Friday November 7 at 11 a.m. ET to find out how it went and share your thoughts. Or send an email with what you loved or hated about the challenge to by end of day Thursday, November 6.

About the author

Rachel Gillett is a former editorial assistant for’s Leadership section. Her work has been featured on,, and elsewhere.