Are you starting to feel the stress of the holidays already? Are you a Type A — challenged by taking it slowly under the best of circumstances?
Please enjoy these thoughts and suggestions, offer your own if you have some, and tell yourself (as I’m telling myself)… The holidays should be savored, so chill and take a breath!
Type A? You, too?
The Type A Personality?
Easily wound up. Intense. Competitive.
I will add: For the Type A personality, “relaxation” doesn’t come easily.
This morning, I was reminded how true this is. I found myself in the car on a routine errand that snowballed into one frustration after another. My blood was beginning to boil as my carefully constructed schedule was crumbling, there was nothing I could do about it, and with each additional traffic stall, I swear I could feel my blood pressure rising.
Then I heard the voice… my Inner Voice of Reason.
“Just go with it,” she says.
“Lay off!” I snarl back.
My 10-minute drive has become a 30-minute fiasco and maybe longer thanks to new construction on a road I take often, a fire engine and ambulance blocking the street at the next turn, followed by delivery vans crawling along at 10 miles below the speed limit.
“Relax,” the voice counsels. “It’s not the end of the world.”
But to me, being Type A, that’s exactly what it feels like — the end of the world — though naturally, I know better.
I check the time again. An hour and 15 minutes behind… and counting. And my holiday errand list?
Hangry: Hungry + Angry
I’m stuck in an enclosed space, and I’m angry. Hangry if you must know. I’ve been up since early morning, I’m incredibly hungry, and while I seem to have taught myself not to go to bed hungry (if I can help it), I forget to apply the same rule to the day. And doesn’t physical discomfort — pain, fatique or hunger — mess with our capacity to regulate mood?
Pain brings me to my senses. So does the realization that I’m acting like a child and a churl. It’s the lack of control that is especially unnerving.
Noting the growl in my stomach, I am moderately consoled. This, I presume, is why I’m overreacting. Eventually I will arrive home, eat a bite, and feel better.
If only I weren’t quite so “Type A,” I tell myself. And then: “I’ve got to learn to relax.”
When I first moved south after living in the urban Northeast (not to mention, Paris), I used to joke that I was a Type AAA and relocation had mellowed me. I still moved quickly, worked quickly, and spoke quickly, though somewhat less so.
Funny? Not really. True?
Defining the Type A
If you’re wondering about the Type A Personality, Simply Psychology provides excellent insight, which fits yours truly to a T:
… very competitive and self-critical…
… significant life imbalance… characterized by a high work involvement… easily ‘wound up’
… seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock
… impatient with delays and unproductive time
… try to do more than one thing at a time
How about we stop right there, shall we? I feel like I’m looking in a mirror, and yet… I have picked up a trick or two over the years. For example, focusing on something interesting out the window (if stuck in traffic) or picturing a work of art I love (always a good distraction).
Breathing, Assessing, Reminding… Relaxing
Eventually I make my way home, grateful for the heating pad in my car to keep my back comfy, grateful the weather is good, grateful there’s food in the fridge, and grateful I can take an Advil, get to work, and feel more in control.
‘Grateful’ is key; it’s a tool to facilitate perspective.
Still, I need to do a better job of managing stress (this isn’t news), but the Type A description points out, that isn’t as simple as The Idiot’s Guide to Deep Breathing.
My most effective means to stay measured and offset stress — as the holidays bear down or st any other season?
I “chillax” when I can people-watch, likewise when I long-distance walk, and yes, if I am so fortunate as to make my way to Paris, the worst aspects of my Type A stress simply fall away.
Tips on Relaxation
But exercise is a tad limited at the moment. And I’m not in Paris. So what can I do given where I am, where my life is, and accepting what is temporarily out of my hands — as we all must with our various Real World constraints?
They include meditation and exercise of various types. For some people, deep breathing may be enough to “center” themselves and gain significant benefit when otherwise feeling stressed.
Some use reading — isn’t that lovely? — but that assumes you have time to read and by definition, the Type A feels so pressed that she is likely to determine there is no time to read!
Music? That’s big for some — whether unwinding to the Rolling Stones and The Doors, or drifting deliciously into Debussy.
Tips on Relaxing for Type A Personalities
So what can the Type A do?
- Yoga (many options, including Youtube)
- Daily walking: fresh air, movement, a dose of nature
- Art: spectating or participating
- Laughter: touching base with friends more often, IRL or online
- Writing can center many of us most pleasurably
I came across these stress relief techniques, and while I’ve tried them before (to no avail), I need to give them a shot again – in earnest.
Certainly, when I make a point to give to others, I get out of my own head and stress diminishes. However, as soon as I’m back in my home where I work, I’m in all too familiar High Stress Turf once again.
Any of you Type A’s out there – might you share what helps you to truly relax?
You May Also Enjoy