by Jeff Hirz
Today’s Western society, somehow, someway, for some reason, is more stressed than it has ever been. Combine long working days with a sense of entitlement, increased incidence of immediate gratification, and the marketing delusion called American (Consumerist’s) Dream, and you’ve got yourself the richest countries in the world that are also the unhappiest and the most stressed.
So begs the question – what can we do to improve ourselves?
Starting at the Individual Level
I am a lowly, burgeoning writer, and thus my talents have what one might call a “fat chance” of impacting the zeitgeist of the age. Therefore my attentions have turned to the individual rather than society as a whole. “Start small,” mama always said . . .
So how can we, as individuals, improve ourselves? Much of it comes down to simply managing stress. Lower stress levels mean increased dopamine levels (i.e. happiness levels) mean everybody wins, so let’s turn to the wonderful folks at Harvard University to give us some answers. We can qualify and categorize ourselves, which helps many people help themselves, by using the DISC Theory Personality Traits, developed by scientists at Harvard.
DISC Theory divides human behavior into four categories (or personality types): driver, compliance, influence and steadiness. But how do we incorporate these on an individual level to assist us in effectively managing stress?
How Driver Personality Types Can Manage Stress
With much of a driver’s value system centering on control, drive personality types will likely have the hardest time managing stress of all the DISC personalities. A drive personality type, however, is an innovator and problem-solver, having little fear associated with risk-taking – this is a distinct advantage in the area of stress management. They know they have to do something, that they have to take some action, to de-stress. At a surface level, this can be extremely beneficial.
Driver personality types desire results, and so a step-by-step program with achievable goals along the way is a great starting point. If you can introduce stress management as a challenge to be overcome, a driver will be that much more motivated to effectively manage their stress – likely with a direct correlation with their odds of success.
How Compliance Personality Types Can Manage Stress
Compliance personality types are your list-makers, your fact-finders, and your quality control managers. If you find yourself in this category, you’re likely much more likely to bury stress and let it build up, not wanting to cause a fuss or blur any existing boundaries.
For compliance personality types to effectively manage stress, it’s important that you lay out clear advantages in logical order with plenty of detail – make a detailed list of what it is you want to achieve and map it out for yourself. A strength of compliance personality types is that they are clear and logical thinkers who normally don’t let emotion get in the way of a task, so practicality and preparation is key when discovering why reducing stress levels is important. Clear out the clutter so you can focus in and direct your attention to a singular, clear-cut task.
How Influence Personality Types Can Manage Stress
Your influence personality type tends to be the more sensitive one of the group, so consideration of esteem, emotional balance and social acceptance will go a long way. Difficulties that influence personalities will encounter may stem from the fact that they appreciate a little more sensationalism and excitement, so they may be unintentionally welcoming stress into their lives. If you’re not sure you fit this mold, ask yourself this question: “Do I watch Real Housewives of [insert city here]?” If the answer is yes, you may be an influence personality type.
But there’s still hope! Associate your stress with that same level of excitement and need for a bit of drama and treat it as a problem to be solved – influence personality types are notoriously creative and thrifty problem solvers whose general personality trends toward the positive. View your stress level from a top-down approach with little detail and plenty of freedom for interpretation – the typical influence personality will put more stock in the ride than any type of end-goal or destination.
How Steadiness Personality Types Can Manage Stress
Steadiness personalities are, well, steady. They’re the patient ones, the understanding ones, and everybody’s friend. Stress builds up in steadiness personality types due to an inability to juggle multiple tasks, to adapt quickly to change, or to properly establish priorities.
A good way for the steadiness personality type to manage stress is to take baby steps: lay out a plan where activities are able to be started and finished. Steadiness personality types take great pleasure in the small successes, and so having baby steps along the path to No-Stress Land is a great motivator to pull yourself out of that stressful mindset.
Keep in mind: most people are a combination of several of these different personality types, so when using the DISC personality types to evaluate how to alleviate your own stress, take into account that you likely don’t fall neatly into any singular category. Take techniques for multiple personality types and combine them to form your own unique method of managing your stress.
But just knowing your personality type is a good first step. Just remember to keep walking.
Image Credit: Giulia Bartra