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Personality Clues for Teenagers

Understand your personality traits and make amazing choices
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WebMD Feature

Have you ever wondered how your personality traits might determine the choices you make? And how these traits affect your satisfaction with your choices? Here's your chance to find out. Read the following scenarios and mark the one that best describes you:

Scenario 1

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_______I feel strung out most of the time. Each night before bed I look at my calendar and start feeling anxious, dreading the next day. I have insomnia many nights, just thinking about all the things I have to do. Somehow there's always more to do than time or energy available. Honestly, I really want to spend more time alone, listening to my iPod, working on an art project, and doing yoga in my bedroom. Yet each day I wake up to a blaring alarm clock that reminds me I have more classes, homework, club meetings, and too many obligations to family and friends. Why didn't someone warn me to take it easy and make better choices? I constantly feel stressed out.

Scenario 2

_______ I wake up ready to take on the world. I love carpools with friends, after school club meetings, and working part time three nights a week. I'm the ultimate juggler: managing my school work, sports team and friends all at once. Usually I'm calm and rarely overreact when life gets crazy. Alone time? Who needs it? If there's ever a cause that needs some help, I volunteer. If I'm in a club, I want to be the leader. I crave being busy, with many commitments, and much action.

Personality traits relate to stress

"To make healthy choices in life, teens need to spend time understanding their personality traits and their relationship with stress," says Eric Sundstrom, psychology professor at the University of Tennessee and co-founder of My Next Phase, a web site that helps people understand their personality traits and make life choices based on this understanding. "Many teenagers think they are ultra-resilient, robust and stress tolerant yet in reality they cave when stress hits. These teens take heavy course loads at school, sign up for too many extracurricular activities and easily get overextended. Because 'stress sensitive' or responsive teens overestimate their ability to deal with life's commitments, demands, and challenges, the result can invariably be a major 'crash and burn,'" Sundstrom says.

Sundstrom adds that when teens get a sense of their personal strengths and limitations early in life, they are far more likely to make the best choices and manage stress in a healthy way.

Are you a stress-sensitive teen?

If you identified with Scenario 1, you may be a responsive or stress-sensitive teen who reacts readily to the pressures of life. If someone upsets you, it may take you a longer time to recover than your more stress tolerant or resilient friend. Stress-sensitive teens get highly anxious when overloaded with commitments and then have great difficulty making decisions. They strongly react to challenges in life and may have physical symptoms such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, or stomachaches, because they internalize tension.

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