What Is a Type A Personality?
Type A Personality traits are lovely! These folks are ambitious and tend to stay on top of daily tasks. They’re usually of above-average intelligence and sensitive to the needs of others.
Perhaps you know someone who’s always “doing,” going above and beyond, the caretaker in the family, and the go-to source for help.
But we sometimes forget that these amazing people are also prone to burnout and won’t stop till they hit the wall. They also do their best not to show it when that happens.
When “Lazy” Is a Four-Letter Word
It’s a source of shame for many patients when they feel they have let down their families, friends, and coworkers because they can do no more. They fear being thought of as “lazy” when what is true is that they are exhausted.
I always tell my patients, “Lazy people don’t get Adrenal Fatigue.”
It’s the movers, the doers, the perfectionists, and the overachievers that end up with this condition. Many of us have been conditioned to believe that we must do more to succeed. But we’re human beings, not human doings. We must consider that as we focus on healing.
Burnout Isn’t Just for the Type A Personality
We all have our own physical, mental, and emotional capacities. Whether we’re Type A or relatively easy-going, when we go beyond these capacities for extended periods, we put our bodies in a chronic stress state. That means we shift into stress physiology too often for too long.
Stress physiology in itself isn’t a bad thing at all. Our bodies are designed to deal with stress in short and sporadic increments.
I always tell my patients, ‘Lazy people don’t get Adrenal Fatigue.’
The problem arises when our bodies need help to keep up with an overload of goals and ambitions, leading to a more significant workload.
How Excess Stress Hormones Hurt the Body
Since these modern-day stressors are continuous emails, constant news, jobs, housework, raising children, finances, etc., our bodies have no time to recuperate.
This lack of downtime tells our body to keep pushing out hormones to keep up with the stressors. Our stress response system becomes trigger-happy, affecting all our body systems in negative ways. These excess stress hormones cause bodywide damage over time.
This damage leads to pain, brain fog, hormonal imbalances, weight fluctuations, dysautonomia, allergies, and a weakened immune system. Some call this “burnout.” Others call this a Stress Response System Dysfunction, and others still use the most commonly recognized term, Adrenal Fatigue.
This is why it is essential to be mindful of setting aside time and space for our bodies to rest and shift out of stress physiology.
If we don’t pace ourselves in our constantly moving world, all the wondrous mechanisms meant to save us instead hinder our health.
For Type A personalities and others prone to Adrenal Fatigue, pacing and resting can be a challenge.
The Hardest “Easiest” First Step
It may be difficult to believe, but one of the first recommendations I make in healing protocols is “pacing.”
That’s just as it sounds: pacing yourself.
For some, pacing is relatively easy because they are too exhausted to do much more than rest. Their bodies are no longer giving them the option to choose to “push through.”
For Type A Personalities and others prone to Adrenal Fatigue, however, this can be more of a challenge. It’s also difficult for those midway through my healing programs. When they feel they have some energy – any at all – they want to use it. Who wouldn’t, especially when energy has been missing their lives for so long! “Pace yourself” seems like advice that no longer applies.
But it does. And it always will. It is one of the keys to managing this condition for life.
Of course, I fully encourage my patients to move as much as possible without pushing themselves beyond their current functional capacity. It’s human nature to push the energy envelope, but it inevitably results in an adrenal crash.
How to Avoid the Adrenal “Crash”
In my practice, we celebrate a patient’s first crash as they start feeling better. The crashes aren’t pleasant, but they are good reminders of why resting and pacing are necessary.
Crashes also remind me that enough healing has occurred for my patient’s energy to return. The first crash can be terrifying. It feels like all of the healing gains have been lost. This is not the case; it’s simply that healing from Adrenal Fatigue is nonlinear.
Healing will continue if you listen to your body’s needs, remove additional stressors, and become consistent with resting and pacing.
I know it’s especially difficult for my Type A patients, but when they can finally remove the guilt around slowing down, that’s when the healing and repair functions can get to work!
The Importance of Pacing
Through pacing, we can end our deficit spending of energy. We can complete each day with enough energy that the body can use during the night to heal.
For those Type A Personalities and others who may want a reminder…
Pacing can mean any of these things.
- Breaking the habit of pushing until we can go no longer and then crashing
- Stepping away from being task-oriented, like all of us have been taught we should be
- Listening to your body. It means doing a little bit, resting, doing a little bit, and then resting some more
- Stopping before we have to, before the point at which we can do no more
- Taking your daily list of what you think you should do, trimming that list to what you believe you can do, and then cutting that list in half
When it comes to pacing, practice makes perfect! Check out more pieces of the healing puzzle here.