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The Type A personality, first recognized by Friedman and Rosenman (1957) faces unique challenges when dealing with stress. Being a college student, the Type A personality must take care to learn how to adjust to a new and challenging environment. Often these “Super Students” have been on high alert all through high school. Learning some tips about stress relief for this specific personality can go a long way to avoiding burnout, anxiety, depression, and other common ailments of college students.

What is the Type A Personality?

Knowing your own personality or the personality of your friends, roommate, classmates, and others can help you navigate the relationships you have with others. Personality traits of people with a Type A Personality include impatience, impulsiveness, easily angered/annoyed, short temper, competitiveness, overly time conscious, demanding, tense, perfectionist, ambitious, tightly wound, and negatively self-critical.

Characteristics of the Type A Personality

Many of the behaviors that are rewarded with high grades that can lead to college attendance can cause challenges later as a college student. Behaviors such as talking fast, micromanaging time schedule, being a workaholic, interrupting others, physical fidgets/tics, leg bounce, finger tapping, domineering, intolerant of being a team player, often end up resulting in high stress college life, careers and experiencing high job dissatisfaction as an adult.

What Are the Health Risks of a Type A Personality?

In college and later in life, knowing your personality can help you avoid negative outcomes for the Type A Personality. Known health factors for this personality include higher risk for stroke, heart disease, consumption of high amounts of caffeine, development of bad habits for health like smoking, compromised quality of sleep, irregular heartbeat, and poor anger management.

Why Don’t People with Type A Personality Just Relax?

Unfortunately because of the high level of productivity, many people view a Type A personality as not a problem. Personality traits like natural competiveness often lead to general physical fitness. Yet it is the unhealthy habits that are the problem not only the high risk health factors. Having an intense personality is not the issue, but anger management that can lead to risky behavior. Frequently, convincing a Type A personality person to change habits to avoid heart disease and mental health issues is often not sufficient rationale for changing behavior. One of the ironies is that Type A personalities view self-care and relaxation as a waste of time.

What happens When the Type A Personality Goes Overboard?

After the Type A runs on all cylinders for too long, you can expect a crash. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation affects energy and motivation. Cortisol in blood negatively affects memory over time. Lowered concentration leads to mistakes, errors, bad judgement. Reduction in creativity, problem solving, and innovative thinking. Negative relationships diminish social and work relationships. Constant muscle tensions leads to low back pain, sciatica, neck and shoulder aches. Stress hormones disrupt digestion, and leads to ulcers, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome. Appetite swings trigger metabolic changes and weight gain. Lowered immune system, skin breakouts, and hair loss. Impotence and reduced enjoyment in sex.

So, how do you convince someone who is highly productive, competitive, driven to succeed and rewarded with good grades and social/academic rewards to find time for stress relief? The trick is to match the stress relief with the personality. Stress relief does not have to be boring or time consuming!

Stress Relief With Course Work

  • Limit amount of tasks in a day to no more than 5 tasks
  • Break assignments into manageable goals
  • Complete important tasks first
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Give credit to self for completing tasks and re-prioritize for the next day
  • Exchange tasks that are longer term rather than adding more to the list

Stress Relief at Home

  • Exercise that is fast-paced or intense such as spinning, hot yoga, rock climbing, running, cross-fit, hip-hop dancing etc.
  • Music that is fast-paced and upbeat, include singing aloud if possible
  • Invite friends over
  • Find a new high energy hobby or continue a forgotten one
  • write/journal creative expressions or practice storytelling
  • Breathing exercises including laughter sessions

Stress Relief in the Community

  • Charity or giving to others
  • Daily walking
  • Socializing with others/join social clubs
  • Exploring new places/travel
  • Spending time in nature/appreciating the outdoors
  • Attend social/community events

Today’s college students experience stress at higher rates than ever before. The good news is that more and more college campuses are taking into consideration college student well-being more than ever before. Lastly, learning about the different personality types, college students can learn tricks to stress relief that don’t take way from their fast paced lifestyle.

For more reading on Stress Reduction for Type A Personality check these out!

Changing Minds (2018). Type A and Type B. http://changingminds.org/explanations/preferences/typea_typeb.htm.

Raymond, J. (2018). http://www.drjeanetteraymond.com retrieved on March 1, 2018.

Schuder, K. (2018). Understanding the Type A Personality.

Scott, E. (2018). Type A Stress relief tips. https://www.verywellmind.com/type-a-stress-relief-3145058 Wolf, D.A. (2014). How to relax (When you’re a type A Personality)

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis


  • Lily Ploski

    Personal Well-being Coach

    Lily Ploski graduated from the Holistic Health Education Master of Arts program at John F. Kennedy University in the city of Pleasant Hill in northern California. Lily has witnessed the power of education to positively transform and change lives during her 15-year career working with students as a student affairs professional and as a teacher. Lily sees learning as essential to health and well-being, as a path to building meaning, coherence, healing, liberation, restoration, re-invention, and challenge in our everyday life to be the best version of ourselves. Lily has an Associate's Degree from Diablo Valley College in Pleasant, Hill, CA. She completed her Bachelor's Degree from University of California, Berkeley, Master's Degree Teachers College, Columbia University in the City of New York, and Doctorate at Cal State University, Fullerton. Her book, Not Getting Stuck: Success stories of being Latina and transferring from a California community college (Alive Publications, 2017) is about positive self-transformation through education. Lily is a single parent and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area along with her son, Justice, and her dog, Max. Her personal motto is Make Every Day Count! Lily is actively seeking opportunities as a personal well-being coach, executive trainer, and international speaker.