Where Your Personality and Your Health Meet

Many elements can contribute to – or detract from – our health and well-being. Some of these factors are fairly obvious, such as genetics, diet, lifestyle, and activity level. But other factors that influence our health are more surprising.

For example, research over the past few decades has shown that our personality traits can significantly affect our well-being. We’ve known since the 1980s that aggressive, determined “Type A personalities” are more vulnerable to heart problems than their laid-back peers. And a recent study found that a person’s future health can, to an extent, be forecast based on their personality traits. (According to the study, conscientiousness and openness to experience seem to correlate with the best health outcomes.)

This research into personality and health is still young, with much left to explore. We’ll cover new studies as they emerge, but in the meantime, here are some things we can reasonably speculate regarding health and personality types.

Health and the Analyst

What do Analysts have going for them? Analyst personality types are known for their strong intellects, and epidemiological studies have suggested that intelligent people experience longer, healthier lives. While researchers haven’t pinpointed why this is true, one hypothesis is that intelligence equips people to better understand various health conditions, adhere to treatment regimens, and understand their healthcare options. It’s easy to see how Analyst personalities would bring all of these strengths to the table.

What might be problematic for Analysts? Analysts can be absentminded, particularly when it comes to their day-to-day needs. Their incisive minds love solving grand challenges but can overlook practical matters. Preserving health often entails consistent good habits and behaviors. Analyst personality types may want to pay more attention to performing the daily tasks needed to remain healthy, as well as scheduling necessary visits to their healthcare practitioners.

Health and the Diplomat

What do Diplomats have going for them? Forward-thinking Diplomats often aim to improve their health and assure a healthy future. Given their interest in advocacy and various causes, Diplomat personality types might choose healthy habits that reflect a wider-ranging interest in wellness, nutrition, or environmental issues. Always searching for meaning, they may even translate their health issues into narratives that help them cope: “My cold last week was the universe’s way of telling me to slow down and take better care of myself.” Many Diplomats also embrace yoga, meditation, or other practices that benefit their health and counterbalance the negative effects of stress.

What might be problematic for Diplomats? Diplomat personalities love to throw themselves into novel ideas and ventures, which can lead them to try fad diets and questionable health protocols that aren’t underpinned by genuine science. Diplomats’ altruism can also consume them, leaving them little energy to care for themselves. When it comes to health matters, Diplomat personality types may need to approach new or faddish ideas with a more analytical mindset, and they should honor their own health needs as thoroughly as they attend to the needs of other people in their lives.

Health and the Sentinel

What do Sentinels have going for them? Sentinels are known for being conscientious and disciplined – two traits that foster healthy habits. Given their detail-oriented worldview, Sentinel personality types are also able to manage the minutiae of self-care: eating right, getting enough rest and activity, scheduling regular checkups, and following doctors’ orders when necessary. In addition, Sentinels tend to shy away from vices like smoking or excessive drinking. These factors combine to promote their overall health.

What might be problematic for Sentinels? Sentinel personalities hate to let people down, and this trait leads them to work hard and take on high levels of responsibility and commitment. Alas, when conscientiousness goes into overdrive, the resulting stress can do harm. Sentinels’ pervasive sense of duty may cause them to shortchange rest and recreation. Balancing their various responsibilities with their own well-being is an important consideration for Sentinels.

Health and the Explorer

What do Explorers have going for them? Active and kinetic, Explorers are always on the move, and this high activity level can be a boon for their health. As novelty seekers, these personality types also love to research and try new advances in health and wellness. From fitness trackers to biohacking, the latest and greatest will always have a hold on their attention. Like Analysts, Explorers are born problem solvers, and when they become sick, their drive to fix things motivates them to do whatever they can in order to restore their wellness.

What might be problematic for Explorers? There is a dark side to novelty seeking. Explorers’ craving for new experiences and their willingness to take risks can operate at the expense of their safety and wellness. From addictive substances to reckless driving, some forms of thrill-seeking come with risks. Of course, not all Explorer personalities will go to such extremes. Fortunately, Explorers can minimize the temptations of dangerous activities and vices by proactively seeking healthier ways to satisfy their yen for adventure.

Conclusions

Whether we love spinach or live on snack food, our health is only partially under our control. There will always be factors that lie beyond our influence, from genetics to the vagaries of fate. Fortunately, learning about personality types can help us understand what strengths we bring to our self-care – and what detrimental tendencies we should actively work to counterbalance.

What’s your experience? In what ways does your personality type influence how you take care of your health? Leave a comment and let us know.

8 months ago
INFJ-T here. Very true that I take care of others needs before my own, but I find stress takes more and more of a toll on my body the older I get. In my younger days I could seek adventure and take more risks, but I now find the slightest anxiety makes me ill. All I seek now is peace and quiet. LOL
8 months ago
It's nice to be Sentinel, at least in favor of health.
8 months ago
Being an analyst can also lead you to second-guessing your health care practitioners, which can be both healthy and unhealthy. As an example: most doctors will tell people to get the flu shot, and as support will add that the shot contains a dead virus, that it will prevent the flu, and that all seniors and children should be especially mindful to get one. The problem is that an immune system won't react to a dead virus, so if there is no immune response, there is no immunization. Thus, it CAN'T be a dead virus and still work. (I get the flu every time I get the shot, and never get it when I don't). Further, they conveniently forget to tell you that the flu has hundreds, if not thousands of variations, and that the shot is their best guess as to which strain will be the dominant one. For this year, that guess was an epic fail (my boss and his whole family got the shot in November, and all of them have the flu now). Now, I do believe that children and seniors and more likely to get sick in general, but they're also more likely have adverse reactions to the shot, especially seniors, who are typically on an entire pharmacy of drugs and vitamins. The truth of the matter is that I have determined my own healthcare plan and left the doctors out of it unless 100% needed. My plan is eat well, but allow yourself some less healthy snacks and deserts on occasion. Exercise as much as you can without injuring yourself. Avoid fad diets like the plaque. And know your own body so you know when to go to the doctor and when they'll tell you take to Tylenol and come back in 10 days (or worse, give you an antibiotic for something that is clearly a virus). So far, so good. I haven't been sick in years other than allergies in the spring.
8 months ago
Analyst here too. Yes, I've had my fair share of doctors wanting to cut into me after biopsies prove all is clear. They must need to fill a quota or have to justify their existence somehow. I too, avoid doctors unless absolutely 100% necessary. I eat well, have the occasional indulgence, don't smoke or drink, exercise to keep the machine in good form, question my existence and appreciate my life.
8 months ago
I agree with your analysis. I've had the flu shot in the past as well as not taken it. I saw no correlation between getting the flu and having had (or not) the shot. I'm also extremely healthy and only go to the doctor because a) my insurance company requires wellness exams, or b) I'm sick enough that I can't get well on my own. Whenever I go to a doctor's office I always wonder what I'm exposing myself to.
8 months ago
*Reading Health and the Diplomat* Huh, Interesting. Yeah i guess so. Quite accurate :/
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