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Are you neurotic and can you change it?

Neuroticism, a component of the widely recognised Five Factor Model of personality, refers to an individual’s tendency to experience negative emotions such as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, and depression. A high degree of neuroticism can influence how we handle stress and interact with the world. This article will guide you in spotting neurotic tendencies and provide strategies for understanding and managing them.

Identifying Neuroticism

Recognising neuroticism involves self-awareness and a willingness to examine one’s emotional responses and behaviours. Here are a few signs:

High Emotional Reactivity: Those high in neuroticism often have an intense emotional reaction to situations that others might see as mundane.

Perceived Negativity: Neurotic individuals tend to perceive the world as threatening or challenging, focusing more on the negative aspects of situations.

Mood Fluctuations: A person with a high degree of neuroticism might experience mood swings and struggle to maintain emotional stability.

Stress Sensitivity: Neurotic individuals tend to be highly sensitive to stress. They may find it hard to relax or let go of worries.

Anxiety and Depression: A high degree of neuroticism is often associated with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

Understanding Neuroticism

The first step in managing neuroticism is understanding it. Recognising that neuroticism is not an inherently negative trait can be quite liberating. It simply defines how you typically respond to stress. While it can make life challenging, it can also make you more empathetic and attuned to the feelings of others.

Strategies for Managing Neuroticism

Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices like mindfulness and meditation can help manage stress, cultivate calm, and increase emotional stability.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy helps individuals recognise and change negative thought patterns, leading to more positive emotional responses.

Regular Exercise: Physical activity can boost mood, reduce stress, and improve overall mental health.

Quality Sleep: Poor sleep can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and negativity. Ensuring you get adequate, quality sleep can be crucial for managing neurotic tendencies.

Healthy Relationships: Supportive social connections can provide a buffer against negative emotions and stress.

Remember, there’s no need to navigate this journey alone. A mental health professional can provide guidance and help tailor strategies to your individual needs.

Reflective quiz to help identify areas you may wish to strengthen or gain understanding of.

Please rate each statement from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree)

  1. I often find myself worrying about small details or overthinking situations.

  2. I frequently experience mood swings or intense emotional reactions.

  3. I feel that I am easily stressed or overwhelmed by challenges.

  4. I regularly struggle with feelings of anxiety, sadness, or irritability.

  5. Negative thoughts or fears often intrude on my mind, even when things are going well.

  6. I tend to dwell on past mistakes or negative experiences.

  7. I find it hard to bounce back after a setback or disappointment.

  8. When things go wrong, I often blame myself.

  9. I frequently feel self-conscious or worry about what others think of me.

  10. I find it difficult to stay calm in stressful situations.


  • 10-20: Low Neuroticism
  • 21-30: Mild Neuroticism
  • 31-40: Moderate Neuroticism
  • 41-50: High Neuroticism

Remember, this is a simple reflection tool and not a diagnostic instrument. It’s meant to help you gauge your tendencies and is not a replacement for a professional evaluation. If you are feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions or if your results suggest high neuroticism and it’s causing distress, consider seeking help from a mental health professional.

Daily Change Summary

Recognising and understanding neuroticism is the first step in managing it. While neuroticism can contribute to heightened stress and negative emotions, it can also be a pathway to developing self-awareness, empathy, and resilience. There are effective strategies available, such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioural therapy, exercise, adequate sleep, and fostering healthy relationships, which can help you better manage neurotic tendencies. Always remember that seeking help from a mental health professional can provide valuable guidance and support on this journey.

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