Life in the slow lane | Sunday Observer

Life in the slow lane

Are you aware what is meant by a Type-A person or Type-B person? The concept was introduced in the mid-1960s by two cardiologists - Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in an effort to bridge the gap between a person’s mental and physical health.

Type A is a person who is ambitious, proactive, rigidly organized, status conscious and obsessed with time management.Type B individuals are the opposite – who live reflectively at a lower stress level and typically work steadily, enjoying achievement but not too ambitious.

Do you like to know what category you belong to? It’s not easy to define because there are plenty of people who show characteristics of both personality types.And, therefore, any result of a personality-type test should be taken with a grain of salt, because there’s no hard science on the subject.


Anyway, here is a simple test. Take a piece of paper and mark yes or no for the following dozen statements:

(1) Waiting in a long queue is irritating. (2) You’ve been described as a perfectionist, constant achiever and workaholic. (3) You hate wasting time, whatever the reason. (4) You’re highly conscientious. (5) You’ve always been a person meeting minor accidents and simple disasters. (6)You frequently talk over and interrupt people. (7) You have a hard time falling asleep at night. (8) People cannot keep up with you - in conversation or on the sidewalk. (9) You put more energy into your career than your family relationships. (10) Relaxing can be hard work for you. (11) You have a low tolerance for incompetence. (12) At work, everything is urgent for you.

If you have over 9 ‘yes’ answers, you are a great Type-A personality. If your ‘yes’ answers are between 5 and 8, still you are Type-A but moderate type. If you are below 5, you are on the fence, moving from A to B or B to A under different circumstances.


If you are a Type-A person, then you probably must be facing a great deal of stress every day. Stress is a harmful emotion. Not only will it spoil your mood and make you feel worse but it will also destroy your health progressively, if you allowed it to persist.

In addition to the normal practices you can do to manage your stress, experts recommend the following guidelines.

(1) Read about the physical and mental damage that stress can lead you to in order to motivate yourself to learn how to control your stress.

(2) Manage your time properly by learning time management skills which will allow you to be more in control of your time.

(3) Be flexible as much as you can when you are trying to achieve something. Don’t set rigid goals or use a rigid approach.

(4) Include in your schedule some time for exercising and preferably the time for exercising should be in between two important activities that you do.

(5) Sit alone while working if you can. If you can’t it may be useful to use ear plugs.

(6) Take actions to improve your working conditions and surrounding atmosphere at your workplace so that you can reduce some of the stress you face.

(7) Take breaks, not only short breaks, but medium and long ones too. For example, when you take a day off, your mind becomes clearer and you become better able to deal with your life challenges.Twice a year, take a long vacation of one to two weeks, preferably with the family.

(8) Learn to practise non-religious meditation. Get professional advice from books or person.


Now, think about the joy and happiness in life when you are more towards Type-B.

1. You enjoy food more

If you spend time to eat, you have time to enjoy your food. You can savour the food by making it a point of appreciating the textures and identifying the different flavours. Above all, taking the time to properly chew your food before you swallow has a host of health benefits.

2. You notice what’s going on around you (including your family)

When you slow down to be aligned with the present moment, you can actually enjoy what is happening around you for what it truly is. Also, a sincere conversation with family members or a walk in the park or garden without worrying about what you are going to do next, will heighten your life experiences.

3. You make better decisions

When you have more time, you’ll find that you respond to situations in a calm and guided way and it will give you the chance to consider all your choices before making a decision. Also, by slowing down you will be forced to prioritize and therefore decide what is truly important and make more informed decisions.

4. It reduces stress

Slowing down can help calm the body and release lots of the tension. Taking the time to breathe or for a light exercise can help you gain perspective, which is a great resource for reducing stress. Engaging in relaxing and enjoyable activities provides for increase in oxytocin and serotonin levels in the brain, leaving you feeling more relaxed.

5. You’ll get more creative

Instead of bombarding your mind with more and more information, when you put part of that time to be creative like getting involved in a hobby, your mind will naturally start to relax. And then, great ideas will flow because you are freeing up space in your mind to get those creative juices flowing.

When I joined my first employer, he used to always say ‘stress is a choice.’ It took me nearly 10 years to understand he was absolutely right. I abided by that advice throughout my working life. You don’t have to be stressed at all to be a great leader in office and great father (or mother) and husband (or wife) at home.