by | Feb 23, 2024

Discover Your Stress Personality

Discover your stress personality with Dr Lauren Hodges

Understanding stress and stress management 

Stress is a universal experience, a companion that accompanies us throughout our lives. However, not all stress is created equal, and our responses to it can significantly shape our journey through both calm and tumultuous times.  

In our first ever episode of our Re Engaged @ Work podcast, we are joined by the brilliant, Dr Lauren Hodges, a venerated expert in human performance and stress management, who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with her. The episode serves as a masterclass in not only understanding stress but also in harnessing it to thrive.  

The different stress personalities 

Lauren introduces us to the concept of stress personalities, a fascinating framework that recognises the diversity in our stress responses. Whether you identify as a fighter, a runner, a worrier, or one of the other five distinct personalities, each carries its unique traits and coping mechanisms. Understanding which personality dominates your stress response can be a game-changer, empowering you to leverage this self-awareness and cultivate resilience.  

The five stress personalities that Lauren outlines in her research and a basic overview of their stress responses are as follows:  

The Fighter

Typical stress response:  

  • Experiences anger, irritation and aggression. 
  • Struggles with empathy, compassion, listening, and understanding. 
  • Prioritises self-protection. 
  • Suffers energy crashes and negative feelings.
The Runner 

Typical stress response:  

  • Directs emotions, thoughts and behaviours inwardly. 
  • Experiences panic, anxiety and insecurity. 
  • Feels controlled by external factors. 
  • Engages in avoidance and procrastination. 
  • Resists feedback. 
The Worrier 

Typical stress response:  

  • Discusses issues and considers all options. 
  • Dwells on past failures. 
  • Experiences distraction and disconnection. 
  • Struggles to remain in the present moment.
The Freezer 

Typical stress response:   

  • Indifference, apathy and disengagement. 
  • Lack of empathy and compassion; emotionally numb. 
  • Difficulty relaxing. 
  • Anxiety. 
The Pleaser 

Typical stress response:  

  • Struggles setting boundaries. 
  • Neglects self-care. 
  • Exhibits perfectionism for fear of inadequacy. 
  • Seeks to appease.

Our episode explores some of the practical approaches that individuals can take to rewire their responses to stressful situations and instead use stress to their advantage. For an even more detailed exploration, read Lauren’s book, Less Stress, More Calm 

The power of mindfulness and meditation in the workplace 

The discussion moves towards more general practices that individuals and organisations can advocate for to promote healthy stress management and emotional regulation, such as mindfulness and meditation.  

 Contrary to popular belief, meditation isn’t a one-size-fits-all practice. Whether it’s a silent retreat, a walking meditation, or finding mindful presence in daily activities like cooking, the best meditation is the one that resonates with you. This is especially important because even just a few minutes of daily meditation can lead to structural brain changes that bolster emotional intelligence and enhance your capacity to manage stress.  

 Moreover, the practice of mindfulness and meditation can happen in small bursts throughout the day – it’s not something that you have to take time out of your day to do. For instance, you can practice mindfulness by paying close attention to small actions you do daily, like locking your door when you leave the house or engaging the clutch when you park your car, rather than doing these things in autopilot. Practices like these help you to redirect your attention to the present moment, keeping your mind free of any unhelpful or distracting thoughts.  

Neuroplasticity and our stress response 

One of the most hopeful messages from the episode is the role of neuroplasticity in stress management. Our brains are not fixed; they are malleable, capable of forming new neural pathways at any age. This means that our current stress responses are not set in stone; we can rewire our brains to adopt healthier patterns of thought, emotion, and behaviour. 

Engaging in short daily mindfulness exercises like the ones we mentioned above or sitting down for just 5-10 minutes of meditation per day can help you develop the self-awareness to revisit your mental, physical and emotional response to stress and potentially change how you react to, as well as process stressful scenarios in the future. 

Stress management in daily life 

Lauren offers a variety of practical stress management techniques throughout the episode, such as: 

  • Keeping a stress log: Tracking stressors and responses helps identify patterns and triggers. This can aid in developing coping strategies and managing stress more effectively. 
     
  • Understanding the impact of nutrition on brain energy: Proper nutrition supports brain function and energy levels. Consuming a balanced diet with essential nutrients can reduce stress and improve mental and physical health. Check out our employee training on nutrition.  
     
  • Journaling: Writing down thoughts and feelings provides an outlet for stress. Journaling can help clarify emotions, identify stressors and develop solutions that become applicable to future situations.  
     

On an organisational level, you can also offer targeted employee and leadership training on effective stress management, which cover a series of practical tips and strategies to reduce workplace stress. We offer two courses, stress management for employees and stress management for managers. 

All in all, it was such a pleasure to sit down with Lauren to really delve into stress and stress management. Her research, experience and knowledge make her the perfect guide to dealing with stress in the workplace, as she encourages us to embrace both the light and dark sides of our stress personalities and emerge with a sense of calm and resilience. 

By mastering the techniques discussed, we can navigate life’s pressures with the ultimate poise, turning stress into a superpower that propels us towards a more joyful and productive existence.  

Tune in wherever you get your podcasts: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and many more… 

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