You complain about being too busy. The pressures at work are intense. You have endless to-do lists that are never finished. You feel like a full day working and getting things done isn\u2019t enough. You feel like you should be working 24 hours a day. If you\u2019re stressed out, you are far from alone. Sixty three percent of Americans are stressed, and nearly 25 percent are extremely stressed. What would happen if your stress suddenly lessened? Would you feel lost or anxious? Is it possible that you are addicted to this hectic way of life? Here\u2019s how you know if you are a stress addict: \tYou often leave things to the last minute and then race around like a maniac getting things done. \tYou worry constantly that you forgot to do something. \tYou work long hours but still feel that you should be working more. \tYou can\u2019t sit still and do nothing. \tYou feel anxious and worried when not connected to email, text and other electronic work formats. \tYou struggle to \u201cturn off\u201d at night and go to sleep. \tYou no longer have time to do things you used to enjoy, like hang out with friends, work out or go to the movies. Why Do We Thrive on Stress? It seems mysterious. Why on earth would anyone want to be stressed out? Why do we work so hard and fill our lives with so much busyness? The answer may lie in a study in which participants were asked to sit alone with nothing to distract them from their own thoughts. Most couldn\u2019t do it for more than five to 15 minutes. Some people even gave themselves electric shocks. Experts think this illustrates our reluctance to be introspective. We don\u2019t want to think about deep issues related to our inner lives, so we fill up our time with busy work -- anything that distracts us from looking inward. How to Kick the Habit The idea that we can\u2019t reflect on our thoughts and inner lives is troubling. If you find that you can\u2019t sit and be quiet and be with your thoughts for more than 10 minutes, you should work on spending more time with yourself. You can ease into meditative reflection. Start by doing a creative activity, but alone and without music, television or any other distractions. Or, try exercising. Go for a walk or a run, but without your headphones and without a workout buddy. Do it alone and see how it fees. You will get used to the sensation of not working, not being stressed and being alone with your thoughts. Once you are able to spend small chunks of time alone, you\u2019re ready to take some time away from work and other stressful responsibilities. Start small again with one day off. Have a spa day or a day out with friends. Move up to a long weekend and travel somewhere you can relax. Rent a cabin or a house on the beach with your partner or your kids. Do nothing work-related and don\u2019t plan any activities. Just have fun. Kicking the stress habit isn\u2019t easy, but once you get the ball rolling you\u2019ll wonder how you ever survived such a hectic lifestyle. If you try but fail to work less or to spend time relaxing or being alone, you may need the help of a professional. See a therapist who can guide you through your motives for clinging to stress and can help you change your behavior patterns so that you can begin to enjoy a balanced life.