Adjusting back to a life that resembles the days before a traumatic period, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, may be challenging for many people. Researchers now say that understanding brain type and its connection to happiness could help people to cope with trauma, and smoothen the transition back to normalcy.
Studies conducted since 2020 show that chronic stress-induced in people during the COVID-19 period had a negative impact on their brain leading to an increase in unhealthy behaviors that affected the quality of their lives, including detrimental habits such as alcoholism, drug addiction, and developing harmful eating habits.
Previous research on behavioral response to distressing events had led doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists to identify different brain types, and to categorize people based on their responses to such incidents and how it influenced their happiness. Now, a new study of more than 200,000 brain scans of people from 155 countries has reiterated this categorization of people, by identifying five primary brain types — balanced, spontaneous, persistent, sensitive, and cautious — that influence happiness.
The study showed that a person’s brain type influenced how they dealt with traumatic events such as the pandemic, as well as how well they managed in a post-traumatic situation. The research also showed that with the right strategies, techniques and support it was possible for people to move towards achieving the desirable ‘balanced’ brain type.
The characteristics identified with the five major brain types were as follows:
Balanced brain type: People with balanced brains tend to navigate life in an organized way. Their traits include: focus, good impulse control, conscientiousness, flexibility, positivity, resilience, emotional stability. People with a balanced brain type tend to cope better during traumatic periods, because they are flexible and can easily adapt to stresses. They tend to take a balanced approach to any situation, and are likely to do well following the traumatic period due to positivity and resilient spirit.
Spontaneous brain type: Those with a spontaneous brain type tend to be jovial, willing to try new things, and are often considered the ‘life of any party’. Their traits include: spontaneity, risk-taking, creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, curiosity, varied, interests, short attention span, impulsiveness; careless mistakes, restlessness, disorganization, love of surprises, tendency toward Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
These people tend to make ‘light’ of any traumatic situation often causing risk to themselves and those associated with them. The change to a ‘new normal’ , for instance, during the pandemic, would require these individuals to work on their impulsivity and decision making skills. Goal setting is critical for this group, and they need to learn to live for tomorrow, not just for the moment.
Persistent brain type: People with this brain type are methodical and fixated in their behavior, but this persistence can work against them too. Their traits include: persistence, strong will, preference for routine, inflexibility or stubbornness, easily, ‘stuck’ on thoughts, resentment, tendency to see what is wrong, opposition,, argumentativeness, tendency towards obsessive-compulsive-disorders (OCD).
Persistent brain types are found to suffer the most during traumatic periods such as the pandemic because their routines were upset and life became disorderly and unpredictable. Returning to normal may also be harder for this group, and they would need to increase their serotonin levels through exercise, foods, supplements, or medications that will help them adjust better. Serotonin is a chemical that transmits signals between nerve cells, and has been associated with various biological functions, including modulating mood, learning and memory.
Sensitive brain type: Those with a sensitive brain type tend to see the glass half empty. Their traits include: sensitivity, deep feelings, empathy, mood variability, pessimism, lots of negative thoughts, depression,
These people love interaction with others, enjoy connectivity and the social isolation associated with the pandemic was a major trauma for them. Reconnecting and rekindling associations should be top priority for these people as they transition to a new normalcy.
Cautious brain type: People with a cautious brain tend to be self-conscious and among their other traits are: preparation, risk aversion, motivation, reserve, busy-mindedness, moodiness, difficulty relaxing, anxiety.
Because people with a cautious brain love security, during traumatic periods they tend to become overly anxious to the detriment of their physical and emotional health. The anxiousness could also carry over to a post-traumatic world, where they will probably be planning for the next pandemic by doing things like stocking up on toilet paper to feel safer and more secure.
An earlier study had used personality types, rather than brain types, to help understand and predict how a person might behave or respond to a situation. The five personality types identified were: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion/introversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
That study showed a person’s character traits influence how they experience and deal with any challenging situation. For example, a person who scores high on openness to new experience will likely fare better than someone who prefers stability, predictability, and routine. A person who scores high on conscientiousness will take great care and precaution and will likely be concerned with the well-being of others as well as their own.
A person high on neuroticism will likely be anxious, preoccupied, worried, and controlling, and may struggle the most because they tend to worry excessively and have a high need for control. Extroverted people will tend to be more externally focused when under stress and will likely adjust better when they spend time with groups and others who are faring well. On the other hand, introverted people will tend to be more internally focused when under stress and will likely adjust better when they have time to themselves to process and plan.
According to health experts, understanding your brain type and personality type could help you adjust to a new normal. The good news is that no matter where you fall on the personality scale, your character traits and responses can be improved with practice. So, once you identify your brain type and major character trait, consider the following to help bring tranquility and happiness to your life .
- Ask yourself if what you are going to do for the day is good or bad for your brain.
- Love food that will love you back. This means eating food that will nourish you and make you feel good.
- Gain psychological distance from the noise in your head. For example, limit negative news to 15 minutes per day.
- Make someone else happy, which in turn can make you feel good about yourself.
- Notice the good in others instead of noticing everything you do not like about other people.
- Have clearly defined values, purposes, and goals. Relate every behavior you engage in to those values and goals.
Avoid labeling people, as pigeonholing people gives you a reason to judge them or write them off.