There are a lot of great things about having a Type A personality: you tend to have a high-achieving mindset that never takes “no” for an answer. Your work ethic is unmatched, and you always set a high bar for what you do in life.
Still, a Type A personality can also come with drawbacks. You might find you set impossible goals for yourself, and you likely don’t take failure, a natural part of life, very well. In fact, a tough, task-oriented mindset might even be affecting your health.
Are You Really Type A?
The two “personality types” come from a long history of psychological science. Scientists judged people on whether they were introverts or extroverts, how they digested information around them, how they made their decisions, and how they ordered their lives. From this research, they concluded the two main personality types: Type A and Type B.
Type B personalities tend to be more laidback. Though they do experience failure, they experience it less harshly than Type A personalities. Your Type B friend is probably more reflective and doesn’t often stress.
Meanwhile, Type A personalities are typically characterized as “high strung.” Like any high-achiever, someone with a Type A personality might get impatient faster than a Type B personality. If you’re Type A, you’re also probably very competitive, determined to land in first place, every time.
And while the need to achieve is great, it may be impacting your health in ways you don’t expect.
Why Your Health and Personality Type Are Linked
Let’s start with the ways your impatience might affect your physical characteristics: People with Type A personalities often find themselves constantly tired, with dark circles under their eyes from working all the time.
You’re also more likely to grind your teeth, sweat and keep your jaw clenched with a Type A personality. And it makes sense — as a high achiever, you’re simply feeling more tension around you, more urgency to go, go, go.
Serious Health Risks
But your personality might put you at risk for more than just TMJ. Some researchers believe high-strung individuals could develop heart disease at a younger age — one of the biggest killers of men and women in America.
And heart disease isn’t the only health problem Type A personalities are at risk for. Scientists from Northwestern University found Type A personalities were more at risk for hypertension, otherwise known as high blood pressure. Hypertension can easily lead to heart attack or even an aneurysm.
How Your Personality Affects Your Mental Health
Our mental health is often just as important as our physical health. And, no surprise from what we’ve learned so far, our personality type can play an intrinsic role in how mentally healthy we are — and we know you Type A personalities are really paying attention now, because an unhealthy mind could hinder your success.
Basically, a high-strung personality type is more likely to isolate themselves from the world, especially when they’re working on a massive project. Social isolation can lead to crippling loneliness and even depression.
What You Can Do
If you’re Type A, people probably try to tell you this all the time: calm down. And though those two words may sound simple to a laidback, Type B personality, relaxing probably isn’t in your nature. But now you know taking it easy could be critical to your health.
There are definitely things you can do slow down and calm down:
Meditation sounds simple, but in reality it takes a lot of practice to truly block out the world around you. So if you’re a perfectionist Type A, think about achieving the perfect meditational mindset as another challenge.
At its core, meditation is centered on releasing every thought out of your mind, making for a clear head — which, surprisingly, can lead you to be more productive.
Start meditating in short segments, and work up to doing it for extended times.
Exercise definitely doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s another habit that will get easier with time — and generally improve your physical and mental health. If you’re new to an exercise regime, take it slowly and don’t start training for the marathon right away.
Maybe begin exercising for 20 minutes three times a week, and work your way up to an hour 5 days a week. Get in a good mix of cardio and strength training, and try to work in some of what you’ve learned from meditation while you exercise — the key is to calm your body. Yoga is a great way to achieve the kind of inner-peace a Type A personality might have trouble finding.
Learn to embrace failure
This might be the hardest task yet for Type A personalities. Embracing failure does not come to naturally to anyone with a high-strung attitude, but it might help you in the long run.
Think about it this way: failure can actually be a good thing to experience on your way to success. You learn what doesn’t work, and it probably means you’re thinking big and taking important risks.
Set more down-to-earth goals
Thinking big and taking big leaps is an amazing part of life. But sometime thinking too big is detrimental to what you really want to achieve. Take a step back and take stock of what actually matters in life. You might find you’re taking projects and setting goals that really don’t pertain to what you actually want.
Remember – You’re Probably Not Entirely Type A
If you’re freaking out right now because you think your personality is going to kill you, chill out. These personality types make a lot of sense on paper, but human beings are almost always more nuanced in real life. Chances are, you probably chill out with Netflix once in a while and you try to take care of yourself.
Even if you carry a lot of Type A traits, your personality type according to 50-year-old research doesn’t define you — it’s just another characteristic you should be aware of.