How Your Personality Affects Your Mental Health

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Feb. 7 2023, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Many of us have rushed to take the latest personality assessment in hopes of revealing our truest and innermost parts. It seems every few years another test helps us become more enlightened as individuals. While these personality tests can help to identify characteristics or traits about yourself, when was the last time you paused to understand how your personality may affect your mental health or stress level?

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Personality And Mental Health

Personality is considered the unique pattern of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. According to research, the Big 5 Personality model is the most commonly used personality model in psychology. The Big 5 presents five traits to consider on a spectrum: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion.

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Since mental health refers to your overall psychological well-being, certain personality traits have been found to be associated with mental health challenges. For example, neuroticism is a personality trait that can be understood by feelings of anxiety, worry, and emotional instability when viewed at one end of the spectrum. On the other end of the spectrum, if you experience less neuroticism, you may express more confident or calming behaviors. Similarly, the trait conscientiousness, which describes your ability to control impulses, has been associated with healthier mental health for those who are more conscientious.

Personality And Mental Health At Work

To see this in action, in a recent study, personality was most frequently described as an influence on employee mental health. Research participants were asked to describe their experiences in and outside of the workplace to understand how their personalities contributed to their mental health. An individual who considered herself anxious stated that if she were called into her boss’ office unexpectedly, she would have “full-blown panic.”

Some participants described themselves as more confident during ambiguous situations and mentioned that confusing situations allowed them to be more creative and take more risks. These personality traits appeared to support their psychological well-being.

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But before you debate whether you should retake that personality test to score differently, this doesn’t mean scoring higher or lower on one end of the spectrum guarantees healthy mental health. One research participant scoring high in extraversion mentioned that they dealt with confrontation head-on and remained objective enough to speak the truth with tact when necessary. This participant experienced less stress in negative situations.

Another person scoring high in extraversion similarly admitted to dealing with confrontation directly, but after moments of reflection, she realized she could have experienced less stress if she had dealt with some situations more calmly. Additionally, she later needed to apologize for any harsh comments she made.

These opposing experiences based on personality show that regardless of your traits, understanding how they affect your well-being can help manage varying situations. This process is even more important when we consider how our personality shows up in various environments. Being self-aware can drastically change if we experience stress and to what extent we experience stress. Whether you are introverted or extroverted, anxious or not, love yourself into a healthier you.

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By: Kristelle Beecher

Dr. Kristelle Beecher is a published I/O psychologist, writer, and mental health advocate. As a writer, Kristelle is always in search of "the why" behind life's big journey and uses storytelling to portray her own and different worldviews. She is the founder of The Creative Corporate, which offers career-pathing services to underrepresented, emerging, and transitioning talent in support of creating a meaningful career. As a first-generation American, her passion lies deeply within empowering individuals to be their truest and best selves. Kristelle is a proponent for embracing non-linear paths - she has a BA in Mass Communication and Journalism, an MBA in Human Resources, and a PhD in I/O Psychology. She finds energy in creating change wherever she lands. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, learning new things, and spending time with her family, who all reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

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