What’s a Type A Professional?
- You live for your job and you love the adrenaline rush that you get from being busy. - You feel more productive the more work you have. - You experience another level of mental clarity that comes from the hundred and one things you put on your plate.
Feels amazing, right? I hear you!
I was exactly the same. Waking up at 4 am to do work on my side hustle, heading to the gym by 5:30 am, jumping on the train at 7 am to get to my 9-to-5. Then I’d do a whole day’s worth of Type A-level work before coming home at 7 pm to prep for the next day. For many of you, this process is alien. You can’t relate. For you Type A individuals, I just described the norm.
Folks with a Type A personality love the feeling that comes with being busy. This is achieved in two ways:
That feeling of running towards success;
And the ever-persistent pressure that comes with running away from failure.
It’s like a drug. It feels good; addictive.
I vividly remember my experiences. I was indestructible! I felt as though I was thriving. The truth was something else entirely.
I was on a hamster wheel
What a lot of Type A people don’t realize is that they are living in this constant Fight or Flight existence. This response is a physical reaction that happens when we perceive harmful events, attacks, or threats to our survival. We have retooled our minds to transition encounters with sabertooth tigers into meetings with our bosses, deadlines, and overall success.
Unfortunately, this transition has led us to reframe stress into an absolute positive. What was once a successful Woolly Mammoth hunt has become a raise or a bonus check! The stress that is experienced during a Woolly Mammoth confrontation is now translated into our everyday life.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I personally agree with turning a negative into a positive, but the real problem happens when the body can no longer keep up with that kind of workload.
We weren’t designed to have this kind of stress/anxiety for eight-plus hours a day, five to six days per week. It’s as if we're getting ready to hold a spear to a prehistoric animal all day, every day. I understand that’s more Woolly Mammoth meat for your family (or sports cars if your hunting ground is more cosmopolitan), but it’s taking its toll. Living like that in the short term is fine but living like that long term is detrimental to your health and will take a massive toll on the body.
Stress Creates a Nasty Loophole in the Way Your Body Works
For many Type A individuals, they can live in this high stress/anxiety state for years, so when they start showing signs of illness they never believe it’s because they are stressed or anxious. More often than not, Type A people won’t even realize they are stressed or anxious until these health issues arise. Our bodies are designed to make sure we can adapt, but with stress and anxiety, we consistently release stress hormones that have a massive impact on us.
These hormones can affect the way we digest food and metabolize sugars. This while lowering our immune response, playing havoc on our inflammatory response and messing with our sex hormones (and that’s just the shortlist!)
This is exactly what happened to me. I could spend months, if not years, riding that adrenaline wave, living off minimal sleep, feeling as though nothing could go wrong. Then my body caught up.
In my mid 20’s my health completely plummeted. I started having digestive issues, which led to my joints swelling, and by the end of it, my hormones were completely wrecked. I had cold sores every second week and I was beyond exhausted.
The hard-earned wisdom that greeted me at the end of it all was worth it.
Living like this was a choice
These health issues didn’t happen overnight. It took years for them to manifest and it took me another three years to recognize the detrimental effects stress and anxiety had on me. Stress and anxiety, to this day, are linked to the vast majority of my issues and I had to own that. I had to make better decisions on how I worked and what “rest” really meant to me. I had to choose to take stress and anxiety seriously. I stopped viewing my stress and anxiety as a positive and started looking at it as the cause for all the different ailments in my life.
Once I started looking critically at stress and anxiety I was able to devise techniques and practices to ensure I overcame all my health issues.
The thing that Type A individuals need to realize:
This way of life is a choice.
As a Type A individual, it can be a really hard pill to swallow. However, once swallowed, life becomes simpler. You can still be driven, determined, and effective, but there has to be a balance to ensure you can maintain your newfound health.
Get Your Sh*t Together--Literally and Figuratively