I recently travelled to the Formula 1 races in Singapore for a one-week business trip. The European teams utilised the European circadian rhythm on the days preceding the Grand Prix. This was their solution for optimising the driver’s performance and the team’s efficiency.

Dinner was eaten after midnight, bedtime was 5 a.m. and everybody woke up around 2 p.m.

I followed the rhythm of the teams in the evenings but had to wake up early for meetings, which resulted in massive sleep deprivation. However, as the days were interesting and full of exciting twists and turns, I felt energetic and almost euphoric.

When I returned to Finland, I drove straight from the airport to give a speech, fuelled by the cortisol and adrenalin flowing in my body. When I came home, I was full of energy and didn’t want to go to sleep.

Nevertheless, I could feel the symptoms of a nearly week-long strain in my body. My heart pounded going up stairs, and recovery was slower than usual. I decided to sleep off my fatigue over the next few nights.

After the first good night’s sleep, my brain felt brand new. On the second night, I felt a little sweaty, probably due to the decreasing levels of stress hormones.

On the third day, I noticed a drop in my mood. I longed for the euphoric feeling like a drug addict longs for a hit.

I suffered from withdrawal symptoms caused by letting go of the stress. Luckily, I knew they would soon pass. Over the years, I have learned a great deal about my hormone cycle and neurochemicals. Simply identifying different emotions helps.

When I feel the symptoms arising, I take a walk in nature, eat healthy meals, meet friends or go to a reflexology session.

How many of us are addicted to stress? Has it secretly become the new designer drug?

Many feel energetic during a strict diet and believe it is because the body is cleansing itself or because they are losing weight. The actual reason is stress hormones that the body releases when adjusting to hunger.

Fitness is often addictive for the same reason. The body reacts to torturous workouts and calorie deficiency with a stream of stress hormones that make us feel good and help us survive the torture.

These hormones increase inflammation in the body, lower the levels of sex hormones and predispose us to depression, low sex drive and memory loss. The quality of our sleep suffers and our bodies collect fluids, disrupting the bacterial balance of the gut. This affects our mood, relationships and performance. It may even result in burnout.

Stress is as important to the survival of humankind as love. At its best, it can help us reach a level that would otherwise be impossible. At its worst, it makes us addicts in a vicious cycle. Breaking that cycle requires stopping and listening to ourselves. Accepting our limits – and taking care of ourselves.