Why Being Overly Booked and Busy Can Be a Trauma Response


An employee is overwhelmed from work that he’s doing due to a trauma response

If you overwork yourself or feel the need to constantly be busy, it may be a trauma response


Key takeaways:

  • Edward Khantzian developed the self-medication model of addiction and the idea that addiction comes from the “inability to tolerate one’s feelings.”

  • Substance abuse isn’t the only kind of addiction that people use to avoid their feelings; many trauma survivors use work as a tool to avoid their trauma.

  • Becoming a “workaholic” can stem from a combination of factors, including being conditioned to be a people pleaser, wanting to avoid your feelings, and engaging in controlling behaviors to overcompensate for not having control over your trauma.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one where people are likely to use being busy to avoid dealing with their trauma.

  • Even if you don’t have trauma, if you’re always wired and, on the go, it’s likely your nervous system is in a state of hyperarousal and could benefit from calming activities like yin or restorative yoga, breathwork, guided meditation, and therapy.

Many studies have documented the link between trauma and addictions. Edward Khantzian, M.D. developed the self-medication model of addiction, hypothesizing that addiction comes from an “inability to tolerate one’s feelings.”


Substance abuse isn’t the only addictive behavior people use as a coping skill to avoid dealing with their feelings. Many things can become addictions, from overeating to overworking. Those that overwork typically earn the nickname “workaholic.”


Recent studies on both survivors of intimate partner violence and survivors of childhood sexual abuse showed that both populations had a predisposition to PTSD that can lead to overworking themselves. There are many reasons trauma survivors try to keep themselves booked and busy. The reasons usually stem from a combination of factors, including being conditioned to people please, wanting to avoid dealing with your feelings, and engaging in controlling behaviors to overcompensate for not having control over your trauma.


We look at how overworking and the need to keep yourself busy can be a trauma response. Let’s discuss.


A few questions to ask yourself


If you’re the type of person that’s always on the run, it may be time to do some self-reflection. Here are a few questi