10 protective traits against stress, unhappiness, and the “life sucks” syndrome

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I am not at my best when I am dealing with a stressful situation. I’m distracted, indecisive, and on edge. I can’t eat and I can’t sleep. I am barely functional. So when the time comes for the zombie apocalypse, let’s face it: I’m zombie lunch for sure. I just won’t have the psychological wherewithal to handle a zombie infestation.

I’m enamored with people who barely flinch in stressful situations. Like James Bond. When have you ever seen Bond crack under pressure? Even when he was trapped in a helicopter set to self-destruct, or in a coffin ready to be prematurely cremated, he didn’t break a sweat. If we step out from behind the silver screen to real life, it’s clear that stress can have detrimental effects on our mental health, but this is not the case in all circumstances and for all people. Nursing, for example, presents major risk factors for burnout, including long work hours, heavy work load, shift work, and lack of work-life balance. But nurses who display a greater sense of self-efficacy in their ability to solve problems and who describe themselves as being tolerant of stress are less likely to experience burnout. So just because two people are exposed to the same stressor, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will react the same way. In fact, there are a number of personal characteristics that can act as a super protective ninja “shield” against stress. In a recent study we conducted at Queendom, we compared people who are happy and who have not needed the services of a therapist to those who are not happy and have needed therapy in the last year. Here’s where they differed the most in terms of personality traits:

(Note: Scores range on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score, the better).

Self-Confidence

Score for happy, non-therapy group: 74
Score for unhappy, in-therapy group: 45

Self-confidence isn’t just reflected in the decisions you make – it’s also in how you present yourself. You can tell by someone’s demeanor whether they are confident or unsure of themselves. Someone who is truly self-confident (as opposed to arrogant, which is really just a cover for low self-esteem) won’t allow themselves to be deterred by obstacles or stress. They refuse to let anything or anyone sidetrack them, and believe that they can overcome whatever life throws their way.

Resilience

Score for happy, non-therapy group: 67
Score for unhappy, in-therapy group: 40

So this probably won’t come as a surprise, but people who are happy and psychologically healthy tend to be more resilient. This doesn’t mean that they enjoy going through difficult times – they just won’t let it bring them down. They bounce back quickly and use challenge as a learning experience.

Self-Discipline

Score for happy, non-therapy group: 64
Score for unhappy, in-therapy group: 40

Diets require the discipline needed to stick to a healthy life style. Exercise requires just as much discipline as stamina. Stepping out of unhealthy thinking patterns that have led to depression or anxiety requires discipline. Basically, any change you make in your life requires strong self-control and absolute dedication. But even if you stumble, failure isn’t the problem. It doesn’t matter how many times you mess up. If your discipline is strong, it will push you to get up and try again.

Sociability

Score for happy, non-therapy group: 64
Score for unhappy, in-therapy group: 40

This one took me a little by surprise, but then I remembered all the research studies showing the benefits of social support when dealing with stress, burnout or trauma. Having someone to talk to, to share your experience with, and to lean on when you’re struggling can make a huge difference to your recovery from difficult circumstances. This is where a sociability comes in handy. The wider your social network, the greater your potential for social support when you need it most.

Adaptability

Score for happy, non-therapy group: 66
Score for unhappy, in-therapy group: 43

When I walked into my hairdresser’s salon last week, I could tell by her demeanor that something was weighing on her mind. When I sat in her chair, she explained to me that a particularly difficult client walked in for her appointment and after waiting 15 minutes, declared she had to leave and stormed out. Yes, my hairdresser was running late, but such is the nature of her business. The woman had been a client for years and knew that Saturdays are busy. The problem is, she’s the type of person who is so used to getting her way that when the world doesn’t follow, she gets upset.

If you cannot (or refuse to) adapt to changes in your environment, life is just going to be one disappointment after another. The world is continually changing – happy people just learn to roll with it.

 

Tune in next week for the rest of our top ten list!

Insightfully yours,

Queen D

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4 thoughts on “10 protective traits against stress, unhappiness, and the “life sucks” syndrome

  1. Thanks for the insights, they are very interesting. Looks like if you focus on improving self-confidence it will relate positively to all the other ones too.

    Would that be the best place to start?

    • Hi Boreir!

      I’d say of the 5 listed above, boosting self-confidence would probably be my priority. I don’t think we realize how much our level of confidence affects our behavior – decisions on what to wear, who to date, what career to choose, what to say, etc. And it often shocks me how much we put ourselves down on a daily basis. That’s a good exercise to try: Paying attention to how many times a day you discount yourself.

      D

      • Yes, that would be a great exercise especially if you can replace each put down immediately with a positive towards oneself. Turning the negatives into affirmatives would become habit forming with perseverance and hopefully become a nice habit to form.

  2. Pingback: 10 protective traits against stress, unhappiness, and the “life sucks” syndrome (part 2) | Queendom Blog

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