How Different Personalities Deal with Stress?

Think of a resilient person in your life.  It could be a family member, a friend or even a famous person.  Think about what it is about them that makes them resilient.  Do you think they were born like that?  Is it that some people are born resilient the same way we are born blonde or brunette? Is our personality something we are born with and cannot change? What is personality anyway?

What is personality?

Personality is what makes a person unique.  They are characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours which are most clearly articulated in interactions with others. It is believed that personality arises from within the individual and remains consistent throughout life.  Try this quick personality test to see what personality type you are.  I found this to be perfectly accurate.

https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test

Does Personality form from Nature or Nurture?

Personality is not determined by any single gene, but rather by the actions of many genes working together.  Many studies of twins Reared Apart have been done over the years such as the Minnesota Study, where 350 pairs of twins were studied between 1979 and 1999.  The results showed that personalities of identical twins were similar whether they were raised in the same household or apart.  This suggests that there are aspects of personality that is influenced by genetics. 

What are the Big 5 Different Personality Traits?

Psychologists have been interested in Personality for a long time and the Big Five theory was first formed by D. W. Fiske (1949) and have been revised many times since then. The Big 5 theory is a study of how people tend to fall into 5 different personality trait categories and psychologists look at how these different ‘types’ cope with the stressors in their lives.

A good acronym to remember the Big 5 personality traits is OCEAN.

Openness – Appreciation for a Variety of Experiences.

Openness character traits are curiosity, flexibility, imaginativeness, and willingness to immerse oneself in different experiences.

Conscientiousness – Planning Ahead Rather than Being Spontaneous.

Conscientiousness traits involves planning, persistence, and purposeful striving toward goals. They have impulse control and reliability.

Extraversion – Being Sociable, Energetic, and Talkative.

Extraversion can be seen as assertiveness, spontaneity, and energetic.  They display dominance, confidence, and agency toward happiness. Extraversion is often thought of as very sociable and connect well with people.

Agreeableness – Being Kind, Sympathetic and Happy to Help.

Agreeable people are friendly and helpful, empathic, and able to inhibit their negative feelings. Agreeable people get less angry over others’ wrongdoings, and this diffuses aggression. People low in agreeableness use a sense of power to deal with social conflict unlike the Agreeableness traits where the strengths lie in maintaining relationships. 

Neuroticism– Inclined to Worry or be Vulnerable or Temperamental.

Neuroticism is the regularity with which a person becomes upset and distressed. People with this trait often display moodiness, anxiety, and depression. They are prone to feel hostility and other negative feelings. Neuroticism has an avoidance temperament, suggesting that anxiety and sensitivity to threat is indeed its emotional core.

Have you picked which traits you display in your personality yet? 

Why do we all Respond Differently to Stress?

Individuals differ dramatically in their response to a problem or a stressor.

Some people are born with a disposition that predisposes them to higher or lower levels of tolerance to stress.

Your mental reaction to a situation plays a role in determining how stressful a situation is to you.

How do Different Personalities deal with Stress?

Personality can predict different aspects of stress responses.

Adaptive personality traits are positively associated with active coping styles and do not tend to avoid stress as a coping mechanism.

Avoidant personality traits would endure more stress and need to learn new ways of managing their stressors in life.

Personality Traits – Strengths and Limitations

Openness – Is an active coping response and can cope well with problem engagement, reinterpretation.

They are open towards new ideas and activities. 

They steer away from black and white thinking and because of this, they are good at considering new perspectives which help with problem solving.

This personality type is not likely to avoid the stressors that comes in their life.

Limitation might be disengagement strategies such as wishful thinking.

Conscientiousness – Is an active coping response and is associated with problem-focused coping such as planning, self-discipline, and acceptance of responsibility.

This personality trait expresses low stress exposure since the conscientious person plans for predictable stressors and avoids impulsive actions that can lead to financial, health or interpersonal problems.

Conscientious people can reframe problems, which allows for them to disengage from powerful negative thoughts.

  Extraversion – Extravert individuals active coping styles are problem- focused.  They take initiative and persist in problem solving. They utilize active coping skills such as positive reinterpretation, assertiveness, high energy as well as seeking out social support.

Agreeableness – Agreeableness is linked to low interpersonal conflict and thus less social stress.

Agreeableness involves high levels of trust and concern for others and because of this they have strong social networks and use social support as a coping mechanism

Extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness all relate to recognizing events as challenges rather than threats. They have positive judgements of coping resources.

The limitations of an agreeable personality type are they could tend to self-blame, avoid, and find themselves wishful thinking.

Neuroticism – This is a maladaptive personality trait.

This personality trait tends to not use active coping styles and rather avoids problems, thus causing more anxiety and stress to themselves across all areas of life.

Best ways for Different Personality Types to De-Stress

Personality traits may influence the effectiveness of coping styles. It means the styles that are useful for some individuals may be less effective or even harmful for individuals that have different personality traits.

High- neuroticism individuals have maladaptive coping styles and are emotionally reactive so choosing styles of coping that the more active personality types of use would be ineffective in alleviating their distress.  For instance, if a neurotic person was asked to sit in meditation it might cause higher anxiety for them. So here are the best ways to de-stress.

Neuroticism

Be mindful – Do not try stop having negative thoughts, rather allow the thought to come in and notice and note what you are thinking.  Be the observer of yourself.  Doing this makes you realise you are not the emotion; you are noticing the emotion. 

Ask questions of yourself – ‘What am I thinking? How am I feeling? How am I responding?’ makes it easier to take a broader perspective,”

Take some deep breaths -Take a deep breath in hold for 5 seconds breathe out for 5 seconds.  Repeat 5 times.  This puts space between the rapid thoughts in your head and slows the body down on a cellular level. This allows to create distance from the intensity of the experience and allows you to see the reaction is out of sync with the situation.

Practice Self-Acceptance -Self-acceptance prevents us from getting stuck on negative points and leads to optimism, self-efficacy. Start by using only positive affirmations to yourself and be very aware of the words you are saying to yourself.  When you catch yourself speaking negatively, change it to a positive affirmation.  By doing this often, it will build the mind muscle in a positive way. 

Journaling – We have 60,000 thoughts a day and 80 percent of those are negative.  By writing we slow the thought process down because we cannot write as fast as we think. We can also change the narrative when we see on paper what we are thinking.

Exercise – you cannot be in your head and body at the same time.

Openness

A way to destress might be to become more organised and work with time management strategies and goal setting to have a clearer blueprint to work with to get things done.

Mindfulness – Slow down and be present in the moment. If the head is racing, tune into the senses.  A good technique is to be aware and totally present with 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch and 1 thing you can taste. 

Exercise – Sends dopamine to the brain and gives you the feel-good hormone.

Conscientious

The conscientious type is always organised so ways to destress for them might be socialising, taking up and spending time with a hobby such as reading for pleasure, walking in nature, or doing something for nothing.

Extravert

Meditation might be useful for the extravert to go inward and be more introspective.

Social activities

Exercise

Agreeableness

Self-Care such as massages, reading, gardening or any hobby of choice

Exercise

Boxing Class

Is Personality Fixed or can it be Changed?

While many may suspect that people’s personalities are fixed in childhood, new research suggests that most people’s personalities evolve throughout their lives.  Whilst these traits are relatively stable, they can be changed with effort such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Therefore, in conclusion, there are many people like you and no one like you.  Your personality is your personal reality. 

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