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Are You Secretly Addicted To Stress? With Devin Burke

Emily Williams

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Do you thrive on tight deadlines and always leave things until the last minute? Do you struggle to switch off, and sneak away to check your inbox after hours? Or maybe you’re the kind of person who’s never found without a project, even when you’re on vacation?

“Breaking a pattern of physical addiction is hard and it’s painful and it’s scary because it’s unknown territory. Your body might go: ‘no, I need this, this is how I’ve been able to achieve, this is how I operate, and this is how I’m able to do what I do.’ Those are all stories that I think need to be deconstructed.” – Devin Burke

Millennials have long been dubbed the ‘burnout generation’. We’re conditioned to keep hustling, chasing goal after goal, and rushing from one project to the next without pausing to rest and recover. Whether we’re working for ourselves or climbing the career ladder, we’ve got massive to-do lists, and even bigger missions—and ramping down our efforts always feels like a risk we would rather not take.

Just like a strong cup of coffee, goals and deadlines give us a burst of motivation right when we need it most. But what happens when we start to rely on them to get anything done, and stress becomes our default setting? As it turns out, we can become seriously addicted to it—and feel the repercussions across every area of our lives.

The American Institute of Stress reports that three quarters of us experience stress that affects our physical health, and half of us have trouble sleeping. All this goes to show that our overwork and overwhelm cycles are a symptom of something bigger—and that managing our stress hormone levels is the key to leading a healthier, happier, and calmer life.

In this episode of the I Heart My Life Show, our founder Emily Williams sits down with author, speaker, sleep coach, and longtime friend Devin Burke. Once a busy, booked, and burned out personal trainer, Devin has firsthand experience of how stress hormone addiction can show up and wreak havoc in all spheres of life—from sacrificing family time to never feeling fully satisfied with any of your achievements.

Years of healing work later, he has successfully shifted into a more relaxed state of being and restored both his joy and his health—and now, he helps hundreds of clients all around the world to do the same. His life philosophy? Experience more freedom and suffer less, each and every day.

If you’ve always wondered why you find it so difficult to ramp down and unwind, and know that you’re subconsciously seeking out some of the challenges you’re facing, be sure to listen until the end to find out the daily rituals and practices that Devin stands by so you can take the first steps to shifting from stressed out to fully rested.

In This Episode:

  • What is cortisol, and how can your body get addicted to it?
  • The dangers of using stress hormones to fuel, drive, and motivate you
  • Devin shares the story of his own stress addiction as an entrepreneur
  • Why it’s important to find a balance between pushing forward towards your goals, and taking time to rest and recover
  • The practices and rituals that helped Devin heal his stress addiction and shift into a more relaxed state of being 
  • Why you should stop putting conditions on rest
  • How to build a list of non-negotiables to support you in making this shift.
  • Devin shares how he “fires himself” from roles in his business to free up space in his schedule
  • How long it really takes to start experiencing change and freedom from any new habit


“When we don’t sleep, that throws off all our hormones, our cortisol levels get out of whack and this vicious cycle goes on and on because now we’re looking for coffee, which then is like dumping gasoline on an already hot fire.” – Devin Burke

“Stress is a source of fuel just like anything else—like coffee, like adrenaline. It’s something that gives us energy, and we can get addicted and rely on things that give us energy and help narrow our focus. So stress becomes a tool that people continue to use to narrow their focus and to get things done. But when you don’t shift back to that parasympathetic automatic rest response, that’s when we burn out.” – Devin Burke 

“A lot of people think that unless they’re stressed, they’re not working hard enough. They’re not getting enough done. They’re not going to be successful. I’ve often had this sphere around, well, if I do things in a calm manner, or if I move through my life peacefully, is that really true drive? Am I actually going to achieve what I want to achieve? And so there’s this shift that needs to happen. And I’ll put my hand up for this as well, where we see that there’s a different way and there’s a better way. And we start to convince ourselves that it’s actually the opposite in that we’ll get more done and we’ll achieve more if we don’t rely on the stress hormone.” – Emily Williams

“I had this feeling that I always had to be doing something. If I wasn’t doing something, I was behind. And I realized that I was trying to match my map of the world, to the map in my mind. And when there’s a mismismatch of these maps, it creates stress. And so for me, I was like, well, I can try to change the world, which is a noble thing, but it creates a lot of stress. But I can also change my idea of the map.” – Devin Burke

“Having a consistent mindfulness practice has changed my life. Meditation allows you to create space in your mind. It allows you to see the craziness that happens in our mind and gain perspective. It allows you to stay relaxed and accomplish things.” – Devin Burke 

“Breaking a pattern of physical addiction is hard and it’s painful and it’s scary because it’s unknown territory. Your body might go: ‘no, I need this, this is how I’ve been able to achieve, this is how I operate, and this is how I’m able to do what I do.’ Those are all stories that I think need to be deconstructed.” – Devin Burke

“My goal is to experience more freedom and less suffering every day.” – Devin Burke

“Most of us are not trying things that we know will work or that we’ve heard will work because we’re scared. And anytime we operate from a place of fear, that’s not true freedom, that’s not true joy.” – Emily Williams

Links & Resources:

Follow the I Heart My Life Show on Apple Podcasts

Subscribe to the I Heart My Life Show on Spotify

Connect with Devin: 

Visit His Website

Devin on Instagram

Listen back to our first episode with Devin (Episode 19), all about taking control of your health and creating high-performance habits and routines.

Connect with IHML:

I Heart My Life Website

I Heart My Life on Instagram

I Heart My Life on Facebook

I Heart My Life on LinkedIn

Join the IHML community to receive exclusive announcements and tips.

Connect with Emily:

Emily’s Website


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