Why Being Type A is The BEST and the WORST: Stress in the Workplace

Katie Maycock – Anxiety Specialist

“So, you’re a Type A Professional? Of course!

  • 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.

Feel amazing, right? I hear you!

I was exactly the same. Waking up at 4 am to do work on a side business, heading to the gym by 5:30 am, jumping on the train at 7 am to get to my 9-to-5, doing a whole day worth of work in the morning and then coming home at 7 pm to prep for the next day.

Some people might not get that. They can’t relate. If you’re a Type A individual, that’s the norm.

Why? Simple. If you are a Type A person, you love feeling busy.

This is achieved through that feeling of running towards success coupled with the ever-persistent pressure of running away from failure.

It’s like a drug. It feels good. It’s truly addictive.

I remember I loved the feeling. I felt indestructible. I felt as though I thrived on my 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 sabretooth tigers into meetings with our bosses, deadlines and overall success.

Unfortunately, this transition has led us to re-frame stress into an absolute positive.

A successful Woolly Mammoth hunt is approximately equal to getting a raise!

The stress that is gained from surviving a Woolly Mammoth confrontation is now translated into our everyday work 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.

Granted, that’s more Woolly Mammoth meat for your family and sports cars, 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.

Doing this month/s on end will take a toll on the body.

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 while lowering our immune response, playing havoc on our inflammatory response and messing with our sex hormones (and that’s just the short list!)

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 lead 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.

This was the lesson I had to learn. 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, were linked to the vast majority of my health 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, but as the cause of many different ailments in my life.

This is a lesson a lot of us need to learn. We need to evaluate our “busy” lifestyle and see if there are factors there causing health issues.

Take a break and ask yourself, is your health worth it?”