Thoughts on Anxiety, Balance, and Type-A personalities

Thoughts on Anxiety, Balance, and Type-A personalities

Type A personality is a term that describes people who are competitive, ambitious, impatient, and often workaholics. They tend to respond to stress in an external way, by accepting challenges and manipulating their environment. They have self-control and are optimistic, energetic, and practical. However, they may not have a sense of joy for their accomplishments and always struggle to beat a clock [1]


I’m hesitant to pigeonhole myself into any particular category, but that definition feels like a fit. I’ve always been competitive, impatient, and somewhat of a workaholic. I’ve lived the majority of my adult life stressed out by the delta between my expectations and reality. I’ve always struggled to relax and enjoy the moment even when things are good, which in reality, they mostly have been.

Before this starts to read like a plea for help, let me acknowledge that I’ve benefited greatly from my Type-A tendencies. I’ve graduated from top schools and spent years in the competitive world of Naval Aviation. The grit, determination, and focus associated with Type-A personalities have enabled me to outkick my coverage over and again since I was a teenager. In other words, the results I’ve gotten in life have largely been borne of the self-imposed stress of high expectations. 

Just as with everything else in life, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Going through life with a constant level of anxiety can help produce results, but it will certainly result in negative knock-on effects including restlessness, irritability, trouble focusing, and insomnia among other things.

That is, if you let them.

Several years ago, after a particularly stressful period including a relationship ending and persistent professional pressure, I finally did something about it.

I started to journal. I began meditating every day and made great sleep a priority. I made sure that I was closing my laptop at a reasonable time in the evening and spent more time with friends. Hell, I even launched a supplement meant to decrease the effects of stress allowing for a sense of calm and focus.

And here’s the thing: I didn’t get any less productive. If anything, I became more effective at work. I felt more content in life and was just a better person to be around.

My point is this: if you recognize yourself in those definitions and descriptions of Type-A personality traits, you do not need to suffer unnecessarily to be successful. Taking care of yourself by introducing balance into your life can not only help you feel better, but also helps make you a more effective human both professionally and personally.

Make time for those workouts and for date nights with your SO.

Buy a journal and write about what’s stressing you out and why.

Start a gratitude practice.

Get out of your comfort zone and jump into an ice bath.

Whatever you choose to do, recognize that life is better when you take care of yourself and those around you. Paradoxically, if you make time for yourself you’ll find yourself achieving more than you ever could have by simply suffering through it. Take it from me – you won’t regret it.

[1] Do you Have a Type A Personality? Type A Personality Traits, Stress Management Strategies, and More (