Who is most vulnerable to stress?




Why is it that some people are able to deal with copious amounts of stress be it from work or in their personal lives? While on the other hand, another group of individuals wilt under the slightest mention of stress.


Individual reactions to stress is usually determined by the quality and intensity of the situation also by how they interpret the stressor. Personality of the individual will affect their responses to stressful situations and the extent to which they are distressed when exposed to such stressors.


Type A Personality

Those who frequently exhibit competitive, intense, angry and even hostile responses to challenging situations are significantly more likely to be more vulnerable to stress. These people are likely to be obsessive workaholics, think of your lawyers and bankers.


In fact, it was found that Type A personality not only correlated with heart disease but was also a good predictor for it. Research has shown that the hostility and anger commonly associated with Type A individuals increases the risk of heart disease.


Interestingly enough, other Type A characteristics with the absence of hostility and anger such as perfectionism, urgency and competitiveness are not risk factors. Hence, it is only the anger and hostility that puts a Type A person at greater risk of heart disease.


So why are hostile and angry individuals more at risk?


This is because they are more likely to perceive threat in a situation, they tend to be overly paranoid and overanalyse thus leading them to potentially manufacture a threat that may not actually exist. Their interpersonal style makes them more abrasive and thus more difficult to persevere relationships.


There are also destructive behaviours that are associated with hostility and anger such as drinking alcohol and overeating. These are unhealthy coping mechanisms that Type A people typically engage in.


They are more prone to being aroused in the face of a stressor and also to exhibit greater levels of arousal. They have a greater ceiling of anger and thus will also take them a longer time to settle down after feeling aroused.


However, these individuals can engage in interventions to effectively change their lifestyles. It is only through conscious effort that such individuals can look to improve their stress responses.


Resilience


Resilient people have a greater capacity to adapt and achieve well being even in the face of stress. They are able to compartmentalise their emotions and soldier through the task.


They understand that stress is part and parcel of the process and refuse to be bogged down by it. Such individuals are better placed to not only cope with stress but excel in the face of it


Optimism

Those who think of their futures in a more positive manner are more likely to better handle the demands of stress. Optimistic people tend to see the bright possibilities that await them that "the glass is half-full".


Being more positive will also extend to our stress responses, we are less likely to feel as aroused when a stressful situation presents itself. We are also more likely to think of a situation positively, that there are a number of solutions to solve it and thus need not feel so pressured.


Dealing with stress is a never-ending process that requires constant work and improvement. It certainly does not happen overnight but is definitely worth the effort required.


We need to be careful about normalising stress, yes stress in healthy amounts is paramount to productivity. But, have we grown to sweep stress under the rug? That stress is something that we all need in all facades of life?


Many a times, people who are not vulnerable to begin with, end up being vulnerable as a result of the prolonged stress their environment has subjugated them under. We need to find healthier ways to deal with this.


Perhaps, this is an alternative perspective you can consider today.

Stress and confusion comes from being busy. Peace and clarity come from slowing down and stilling your waters. - Maxime Legace

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