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Health & Wellness Articles  ›  Stress Relief

10 High-Stress Personality Characteristics

Chronic Stress Isn't Normal

-- By Mike Kramer, Staff Writer & Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer
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Stress has been so ingrained in our days and in our culture, that we probably don’t even recognize it any more. We may believe that the general underlying sense of uneasiness we feel is normal and acceptable. Or we might blame the tension and stress we experience—in traffic, at work or at home—more on what’s happening “to” us than what’s happening “within” us.
The problem with this attitude is that it brings on a sense of helplessness, that there’s nothing we can do about stress other than cope. This thought alone is a source of stress, isn’t it?
When you realize that the stress you experience may have something to do with you, it helps you take control and start to solve the problem. Here are 10 personality traits that are symptoms of being highly stressed. Some are characteristics that, by their nature, add even more stress to your life. This list will help you recognize if you are highly stressed and give you ideas for doing something about it.
How many of these qualities do you exhibit?
  1. Over-planning each day. Do you feel the need to stick to a strict schedule? Do you live in fear of falling behind or overlooking a task?
  2. Doing several things at once. With too much to do and not enough time, it’s easy to think that “efficient” means doing everything at once. He who chases two rabbits catches neither.
  3. Extreme need to win. Do you feel like a failure if you don’t come out on top—even when the only competition is your own expectations?
  4. Excessive desire for advancement. Highly stressed people need confirmation from outside sources that they’re doing okay and performing well.
  5. Inability to relax without feeling guilty. Do your weekends become opportunities for “accomplishment” and “getting something done.”
  6. Impatience with delays. When you’re under pressure, everything in life takes on urgency and the additional burdens to get everything done as fast as possible.
  7. Overcommittment. Are you chronically late or forgetful of commitments? Does your schedule cause problems in personal or professional relationships?
  8. Chronic urgency. See #6. Now!
  9. Highly competitive drive. Have you forgotten what it’s like to have fun for fun’s sake? Have you “grown up” so much that playtime actually causes you anxiety? 
  10. Compulsion to overwork. Is your office more familiar to you than your backyard? Do you find yourself missing out on what you might otherwise deem “meaningful”?
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • Only #6 for me. Not to bad. I'm not a stresser by nature. Outside influences over long periods of time build up for me. - 4/12/2014 10:40:20 AM
    10. Compulsion to overwork. Is your office more familiar to you than your backyard? = Yep! That's me lol - 11/13/2013 11:42:25 PM
  • Ho does 'relax time' help? It only makes me more antsy... Unless I'm already relaxed which defies the point.
    Does anyone have some better ideas about destressing (beside controlling it, I do that already, it's way I'm not raving mad all of the time:))
    JR - 8/2/2013 1:39:52 AM
  • Guess it's not good that those actually apply to me... Or that I think my friends would recognise me if they read those as a description... Does it help if I've been that way since high school? - 8/2/2013 1:34:25 AM
  • I seem to be in no danger here... - 7/1/2013 11:45:07 PM
  • Um, this is me. To a T. I am working on it though! - 3/29/2013 12:04:36 PM
    What a wonderful article. unfortunately, I do quite a few things on this list. But, I am going to work to improving in the new year. - 12/31/2012 6:27:58 PM
  • Usually a good book and a bath for me.

    Unfortunately I see myself having lots of those characteristics! I don't even work outside the home and I have huge problems with these things. - 11/12/2012 5:30:36 PM
  • I thought it was going to say what to do about it? I know im stressed didnt know i was this badthough now i want to try and de stress - 10/9/2012 4:10:06 PM
    I am guilty of just about all of them. No wonder I have high blood pressure. :-( I saved this article to remind me to LIVE, not merely exist for the little beads on the necklace. Yeesh - I have never worked so much overtime in my life! No more! That is my exercise time! :-) - 8/30/2012 11:06:27 PM
  • OMG 100 percent me
    I saved it to print and post near my desk - 8/5/2012 11:53:52 AM
  • I wish I could just slow down sometimes and enjoy life.....but even if I do slow down my mind keeps going a million miles a minute about everything I should be doing! - 7/9/2012 11:41:22 AM
  • Oh, wait! Since I don't have 3 or 4, that means I also don't really have 9 or 10 either! Whew. :D - 6/1/2012 5:39:59 PM
  • Well, darn. Except for 3 and 4 (I have zero competitive streak, and not being concerned with career advancement is the reason I'll never make more money) ;) I have them all! Especially feeling guilty for doing nothing. I can't even manage to stay in a lovely hot bubbly bath for more than 10 minutes before I get "bored" (i.e., antsy). Yikes! - 6/1/2012 5:38:26 PM
    Wow! What a wake up call! Talk about the ultimate reveal! This was definitely eye opening to me. 8 out of 10 and the only reason why I'm not 10 for 10 is because my husband was able to "wean" me from them. Mentally, I have been going back and forth with at least one of them for the past few months as I realize life is too precious and I want as much time to spend with my family. - 5/3/2012 11:27:48 AM