Being an INFJ means being in harmony with the world. Gentle and caring, we’re the kind of people you’ll find serving at soup kitchens, counseling friends and family, or shelving books at the library. We love to help in our own quiet, intuitive way and find value in providing for the needs of others.
On occasion, though, serving people stresses us out. So we do what any good introvert with a high level of intuition would do: we hide.
Solitude is the greatest weapon in our anti-stress arsenal. We disappear to a quiet spot, process our thoughts, and recharge. It’s our way of dealing with the routine demands of a noisy world.
But what happens when the world gets a little too demanding?
INFJs can deal with a reasonable amount of stress. It’s easy. Just give us our alone time, and no one gets hurt. Throw us into a situation where reasonable becomes overwhelming, however, and things start getting hairy. Add long-term to that equation, and you’re asking for all kinds of trouble.
Chronic or overwhelming stress has a weird way of impacting the INFJ. It can easily morph us into the exact opposite of who we really are. We stop imagining future possibilities and start living for the moment. Our senses take over, and we indulge in them. Excessively. Nurturing gives way to self-preservation, and intuition falls by the wayside. We push everyone away and behave with a rash spontaneity that makes even our most outgoing friends wonder what the heck we’ve been drinking.
Basically, we go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, and in this state, we’re likely to cause a lot of damage. Not only to ourselves, but also to the people who care about and need us the most.
So, can we manage this? Is there a way to keep from unleashing our maniacal Hyde on an innocent and unsuspecting world? The answer is yes. Here are a few tips to help soothe the savage, stress-induced beast that lurks within.
Vent: Seek out a friend you can talk with. Or, if you’re having trust issues and can afford it, hire a counselor. INFJs are great at helping others, but we struggle with helping ourselves. Counselors are great listeners, can offer coping strategies, and are legally required to keep our secrets. Venting to someone you trust can go a long way toward relieving stress.
Prioritize: Make a list of the things you need to focus on right now. It’s typical for the INFJ to have too many irons in the fire, and our tendency to overachieve can leave us exhausted. Pick the things that matter most and delegate the rest to someone else (or just let them go).
Identify: Find the sources of your biggest stress-triggers and minimize them. Too many interactions? Try limiting social media. Too much noise? Buy a pair of high-quality ear buds. People or groups demanding too much of your time? Make yourself unavailable. Kick those triggers to the curb, where they belong, and keep them there.
Organize: You’d be surprised how much better you feel in a clean, uncluttered environment. Clutter is stressful. It’s distracting and a harsh reminder of all the things you want to get to and can’t. Get rid of the distractions. Make sure the only things in your line of sight are ones that help you get through your day in a calm, productive manner.
Ask: Everyone needs help, and asking for it doesn’t make you weak. Humans are designed for community. There are plenty of personality types out there who thrive on pitching in. Extraverts are especially good at this—rally a few of them and let them do what they do best. They’ll enjoy helping, you’ll de-stress, and the situation becomes win/win.
Escape: No matter how many steps you take to reduce stress, you’re still going to need solitude. Schedule time for soaking in a hot bath, taking a walk, or being a couch potato. Find a quiet spot for prayer or meditation. And don’t feel one bit guilty about this. To be your best for others, you have to be running on a full tank. Fill it as often as you need to.
Our inner Hyde can be tricky to handle. So when you’re overstressed and feel him emerging, try following the steps above to keep him caged. Don’t worry if he rattles the bars. You’re in charge, and nothing can keep you from being the amazing INFJ you were meant to be.
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C.L. Denault is an author and blogger currently living among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois. Writing novels and posting about the complexity of being an INFJ are her biggest passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi. You can often find her tucked away in a library or a coffeehouse. Or in her garage, working on her time machine. Find her on her personal site as well as The INFJ Cafe.