Human bodies and minds are malleable - we adjust and compensate for everything that whacks us out of balance. When you get a blister on your left foot, you shift your weight to your right foot and continue walking. The response to anxiety is very similar - one adjusts their behavior to a stressor and moves on with their day. Over time, this can develop into a habit or even become part of your personality, so much so that you no longer notice the anxiety itself.
If any of the character traits we list below sound like you, no need to worry. As long as they don’t cause you discomfort or affect your day-to-day life or relationships with others, chances are it’s nothing serious. That being said, being mindful and vigilant of these personality traits can help you prevent mental health issues.
Perfectionists always hold themselves and others to the highest standards, which is often a good thing. However, maintaining high ideals for every project and every task is impossible, unsustainable, and often unnecessary. And for a perfectionist who needs to be fully in control of the situation, not meeting these self-imposed standards or being forced to low them feels like emotional torture.
If you are a perfectionist, practice compassion towards yourself and others. Instead of having the same standards for everything, add the term “good enough” to your mental vocabulary.
A busy-bee personality
“Busy, busy, always so busy,” - if that’s the name of the game for you at work and in life, you could be feeling anxious all the time. In many cases, this constant need to be busy stems from a fear of not being accepted or liked by others if you were to do less than you normally do. The danger of this kind of mindset is the ever-growing anxiety and a high risk of burning out.
“What that person needs to see is that even if they’re not doing everything, people still like them, people still respect them,” said Tanisha Ranger, a clinical psychologist to Huffington Post.
Introverts are prone to keeping their feelings and thoughts inside. When everything is fine, managing their inner world is easy, but when they’re struggling emotionally or feel stressed, keeping those thoughts and emotions bottled up can result in paralyzing anxiety.
Opening up to others and sharing your thoughts and emotions, if only a little at a time, can become an outlet for all of those negative feelings and stress.
Chronic procrastinators are lazy and unbothered, they’re not anxious, they don’t care - this is the common stereotype. And like most stereotypes, it is wrong. In reality, different people deal with stress and anxiety differently. And for many, the go-to way to deal with everyday problems, stressful situations, and challenging tasks is to avoid or put them off until the last minute.
But procrastination is a band-aid solution - it may feel good at the moment but usually ends up exacerbating your anxiety. If this rings a bell to you, use this impulse to avoid hardships as a red flag. You can also try breaking down large projects into smaller, more manageable tasks.
Resistance to change
Do people think you’re stubborn or say that you’re resistant to change? Adapting and doing things in new ways isn’t easy, but even small changes can cause a lot of worry and fear for some people. Individuals who find change impossible are often prone to anxiety. For such people, encountering big changes like the loss of a job can spiral out of control and cause unbearable anxiety.
If you’re struggling with this issue, fun is your best friend. Go outside of your comfort zone by trying out new fun hobbies or experiences. This, in turn, will give you the perspective and flexibility that you’ll be able to apply in other areas of your life.
Being friendly and helpful is certainly a trait of character many will find useful or appealing, but being a team player can often backfire on you in ways you don’t expect. While it’s great to be involved in social activities and go out of your way to help family, coworkers, friends, clients, neighbors, etc. sometimes, you could end up backing yourself into a corner.
If you notice that you are saying yes even when you’re tired or have no time for fear of being rejected or not liked, you could be a people pleaser. People with such tendencies need to learn to set personal boundaries. Listen to yourself - do you genuinely want to help the neighbor with gardening? Do you actually need to buy a souvenir for all family members whenever you travel abroad? Try to match other people’s expectations with your own schedule, budget, and energy levels.
H/T: Huffington Post, Verywell Health, FHE Health