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:
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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.
_______ 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
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