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Are You Type A?

Whether you are or not, here are ways to gain control.

istock/g-stockstudio
Source: istock/g-stockstudio

If you’ve heard of the Type A personality, you probably know that it originally referred to achievement-oriented, competitive males whose behaviors were thought to make them high risk for stress-related problems like headaches, insomnia, palpitations and digestive problems. At the time, few women were thought to be Type A – but that was then, and this is now. We know women can be Type A, too. Think you are? Take this quiz and find out.

Type A Quiz
Give yourself two points if each statement is USUALLY true for you and one point if the statement is SOMETIMES true for you

____ I am impatient with others who don’t do things as quickly or well as I do

_____I usually end up doing it myself

_____I try to hide my impatience so I won’t insult anyone.

_____I am often a perfectionist

_____I am polyphasic — usually do two or three things at the same time

_____I prefer to have more to do than less to do

_____I hate to wait

Scoring: Add up your points.

Results:

  • If you have one or more points – You’re a Type A
  • If you have 5 or more points – You’re a Type A+

By now it’s probably obvious that most women are Type A’s. The problem with having a Type A or Type A + personality going through fertility treatment is that Type As are used to taking control of calamities and crises, so they can predict what’s coming next and prepare. For many Type A’s, infertility is the first time they are dealing with a problem they didn’t predict and can’t solve on their own!

Here are some suggestions for a Type A person going through a fertility journey or any situation where there’s very little or no control.

1. Reorganize

This is a fast fix to lower your stress hormones by increasing your general sense of control. Choose a reorganization project for each day once a week. Don’t pick an overwhelming project like cleaning your garage. Choose a project that can be done in 30 minutes: like cleaning your wallet, reorganizing your kitchen drawer, filing tax receipts, or deleting and updating unwanted photos or contacts in your phone.

It works because our brain not only responds to all disorganizing stresses (big or small) in the same way, but it also responds to all organizing actions (big or small) the same way too. That means that part of your brain will register organizing your wallet the same way it would if you were organizing your entire fertility journey. And every time your sense of control goes up, stress goes down.

2. Use the Rhythm Method

Here’s another quick fix for the Type A person with fertility treatment stress. When predictability drops and stress goes up, so does your adrenaline level. Higher adrenaline levels mean more feelings of agitation, aggravation, and anxiety.

To reduce your adrenaline level, add 10 minutes a day of rhythmic activity. It can be peddling a bike, dancing or swaying, a repetitive yoga exercise, or even a rocking chair. You don’t have to do the activity or activities all at once. Try five minutes of rhythmic walking at lunch and 5 more after work. Or shut your office or bedroom door, turn on music, and do a rhythmic, repetitive dance move for five minutes.

Rhythmic activities not only use up extra adrenaline but also increases your sense of control because your body knows what’s coming next. More of the same. It’s one of nature’s built-in stress reducers and that’s probably why every culture has rhythmic dance movements, across the world and across time.

3. Bore Your Brain to Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping or staying asleep, try counting sheep, rereading a book, or listening to familiar music or a book on tape (but not a thriller). Just like using rhythmic motions to relax your body, the brain relaxes when we know what's coming next. Our high alert system shuts off and sleeps usually follows.

4. Take One Task or Chore at a Time

Even though multitasking is a basic Type A behavior, it’s not a good idea during fertility treatment because it can make you feel even more out of control than you already feel. Why? During fertility treatment, you’re probably too distracted to focus well which means multiple tasks are harder to complete. In addition, your hormones may be changing your mood and concentration, or your brain is so busy digesting the new information about fertility that it’s on overload. You need to restore the feeling of control, not wipe it out! This means, take one thing at a time — for now.

5. Listen to Music

If you like to listen to classical music, this is a great time to do it. Music that has a rhythm that is slower than your heartbeat, slower than 72 beats a minute, will generally calm your stress. It works with babies and it works with us. So, hum a tune, play a melody, or sing a song because music calms the savage beast – stress!

6. Re-label

If fertility treatment hasn’t worked for you yet, try to use the word "inconvenient," instead of labeling it a personal failure, which women are likely to do. Accept bad luck instead of constant crippling self-blame. After all, it’s bad enough that you are dealing with a low-control situation like infertility, don't add insult to injury.

Last, but not least, reach for spiritual strength, family and friends for support. Type A or not, we can’t always do it all, and we can’t always do it all by ourselves. Find comfort in others and know you’re not on this journey alone.

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