How I handle stress and change as an INFJ personality type

INFJ stress change



Dear fellow INFJ,

The last time we spoke, I wrote about how to embrace all of who we are, even our flaws. What I have been thinking about lately is how those flaws flair up in times of stress. Circumstances in my life have changed greatly over the last few months. These circumstances are exciting, but with any big life change comes a lot of stress. I want to look at some of our “flaws” and the ways in which they can cause problems and find ways for them to promote growth.

Being an INFJ personality type, I am a perfectionist. (Not sure what your personality type is? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.) I am all too aware of how hard I am on myself, as well as others. I plan obsessively to make sure things fall into place accordingly. I spend a great deal of time thinking about my future. This, unfortunately, sometimes leads to missing out on the current process of my daily life. I am getting better about focusing more on the “now,” but when I’m stressed or anxious, I get caught up in my old ways again.

Being a perfectionist means that I have laser focus when I’m passionate about something. Sure, this is a great quality in many situations, but it can also bring up problems. I am guilty of spending too much time on things because they need to be done “just right” and I lose sight of other things that are important to me. I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to take a step back from my passions and just be. The things I enjoy working on are not what define me. Although it’s good to focus on your goals, it’s also important to look at all of the other wonderful things going on in your life.

The INFJ trait of being highly private also gets in the way when I’m sorting through a lot of feelings. I keep a lot of my feelings to myself. INFJs are always willing to listen and help others with their problems, but we have a difficult time letting other people help us. INFJs are also calm and nurturing individuals, but we do have a darker side, especially when we feel irritated or misunderstood. I am guilty of feeling isolated and growing frustrated with anyone who tries to talk to me about my feelings. When I do finally express my stress and frustration, it doesn’t seem to come out in an effective way. Our introverted intuition (Ni) is our dominant function. Therefore, when we feel something is right or correct, it’s difficult to readjust our way of viewing things. I’ve been told that I shut down others’ ideas because I get too stuck on my own. As an INFJ, it is a big task to be open and willing to let people in. This is something I continue to work on.

On the bright side, there are always going to be small reminders that things will be okay. One of my “reminders” is any time I see a butterfly. It may sound silly, but I see butterflies frequently and they always make me smile. They remind me that there is an entire world around me that is lovely and everything in my life will be okay.

Also, I remind myself that I don’t need to be so hard on myself. I know that just because something doesn’t go according to plan does not mean I am a failure. I know these things, but it’s still hard for me to believe them. It just takes a little longer for an INFJ to step back and reevaluate a situation. We are incredibly passionate and driven people. We want to do our best all of the time. We tend to see the best in others and are quick to forgive them for their shortcomings, so why don’t we do this for ourselves?

I am making strides on relaxing a little and loosening my grip. I carve out spaces of time just for me. For example, I fill out my weekly journal and certain nights are dedicated to binge watching Netflix. Sometimes it’s just a quick stop in Starbucks to grab a caramel macchiato. I try to find whatever I can to shake up my daily routine and slow down a little.

So, my INFJ friends, what else can we do to unwind and relax? Do you have any words of wisdom for fellow INFJs? Any activities or literature you can direct us toward? I would love to hear from you in the comment section. We can have a discussion in this space and help each other out. After all, isn’t helping people our favorite thing to do? I hope this helps whoever finds it.

I know this transition is painful, but you’re not falling apart; you’re just falling into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful. – William C. Hannan

What’s your personality type? We recommend this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker.

Read this: An open letter to INFJs



32 Comments

  • Reading this was well-timed for me since I’m pretty stressed out about the funeral service I have to attend tomorrow. I think you’re right about how we INFJs have to find opportunities to let go and unwind. I also find solace in being able to sit down or go for a walk with a friend, so that we can just talk and enjoy ourselves for an evening. I’m usually able to get out my worst anxieties just by discussing it with someone who cares.

  • Melanie says:

    Thanks for sharing this.I’m strugglng at my job right now with stress and feeling unheard.My frustration definitely comes out ineffectively and i bring it home with me. Relaxing is difficult. I like how you shake up your routine and slow down. Going to try those mysrlf. ☺

  • Amelia, absolutely loved the article. I personally; am living abroad, studying for university going to classes in the afternoon all week, have a full time job in admin, have a boyfriend who I try to see as much as possible, have friends in different groups and am an extreme INFJ. So every now and again it all catches me up and I get really stressed out. I always felt so complicated and anxious (and strange) until I discovered I was an INFJ not long ago and everything started to click. I’ve been watching your youtube videos and also this blog and connect completely. Yesterday I had a middterm and now i’m at work and I feel so overwhelmed, but I love my life. To relax I personally listen to music or go to the gym/running as exercise really helps. But any good relaxing tips are always welcome as I am very prone to letting anxiety and trying to be perfect at everything get the best of me! – Rachel x

  • Cheryl Olson says:

    I am so very lucky that the place where I live now has no yard. I almost did not move here because of that since I have a big dog who needs a lot of exercise. Now I see that life was looking out for me in a way I didn’t expect. Now I have no choice but to take him for a lengthy walk several times a day, every day.

    I am so lucky to live near an extensive system of beautiful trails that wind through woods and fields. Our first walk in the morning is a long one that puts my mind in a positive place for the day. Whether it is warm and sunny or cold and snowy I usually find myself smiling and remembering all I have to be grateful for. If I had to walk him on a sidewalk in a city with people and cars all around, I couldn’t bear it and my mood would turn stressed and sour.

    I guess what I am saying is that I NEED to be out, alone, in nature every single day. That’s what works for me.

  • Christine Pesta says:

    Thank you for this Amelia! I’m a 66 year old lady INFJ and I appreciate your words very much. I’ve been attempting to come to terms with my unique temperament for a very (very!) long time now, and I feel as if I am finally beginning to make real progress.

    We are constantly learning, but some of us are very slow learners – maybe because there’s so much to take in and so little time to do it – perfectly!

    I relax most by reading, escaping to all sorts of lovely places that don’t require too much from me. I just “got back” from spending time in Botswanna with Precious Ramotswe and her friends. It was a wonderful vacation!

  • Lauren says:

    “One of my “reminders” is any time I see a butterfly. It may sound silly, but I see butterflies frequently and they always make me smile. They remind me that there is an entire world around me that is lovely and everything in my life will be okay.”

    This was so the opposite of silly that as soon as I read it, something clicked inside me and I started sobbing. I was only slightly aware that I have been doing the exact same thing. I’ve been feeling so alone and misunderstood lately, and these three sentences gave me immediate and comforting validation and hope. Thank you Amelia.

    One of the things I find helpful as an INFJ is to look at myself from outside and from within. When I am being overly doubtful or self-critical, I look at myself as if I were a stranger and think about how mysterious and interesting I must seem when I smile at a butterfly 🙂 That confidence and warmth is usually contagious. Anyone who happens to see me usually smiles too, which in turn makes me feel even better about who I am and eliminates some of the fear of “putting myself out there” and being authentic.
    When I’m feeling off or overly anxious, I check in. I stop and assess what is wrong and then think of ways to make it better. Sometimes it’s because I’m thinking too many steps ahead. Sometimes I’m dehydrated haha. But there’s usually something simple I can do to put myself in better spirits, and I feel a little jolt of accomplishment once I do resume enjoying the moment.

    Either way, I have come to learn that no one is going to understand how to take care of me better than I can. So I strive to always be good to myself. And then in true INFJ fashion, I can spread that goodness around!

    • Claudia says:

      Oh my gosh Lauren, what you wrote, I don’t know. It just made me feel better.

      I do have to stop all the time and check in with myself. I tend to get angry with others when I get overlooked and dismissed. I just realised that I am doing that to myself

      🙂

      Thank you

  • Cailin says:

    I have found that yoga, reading the Bible, and spending at least 15 minutes outside a day really helps me slow down and remember that everything is going to be ok and that I am enough!

  • Grace says:

    As an INFJ as well what you said about being so hard on yourself and others really resonated with me. I recently wrote a post on dealing with seasons of change. The strategies I talk about include mindfulness, gratitude, hope, and resources. It’s here if you want to check it out: http://www.heartfulhabits.com/how-to-deal-with-changing-seasons-and-seasons-of-change/

  • w.kier says:

    Photography. It lets me pair down the world into simpler concepts: shapes and colors. To face difficulties in the most basic of manners. A total destresser.

  • Angelica Lan says:

    for me, not only the things I have passion to work on, but literally everything I’m working on, I finish it much longer than anyone else because I want perfection. Im always lazy at first and think that ‘okay’ will just enough. BUT as the time passed I find myself getting into it more than I planned before and tada, my work is done with high score.

    Sometimes we complain about this thing dont we? About our ‘annoying’ perfectionist trait…

    But dont you realize that your annoying perfectionist trait leads you to advantages? We should be more grateful for our INFJ from now on 🙂

    Oh and because we’re future oriented and have magical instutution, i believe I’d become a great person in my future life, altho I still cant figure about it right now. Our magical institution gives me faith, I believe yours too 🙂

  • Elaine says:

    I decompress by curling up in my favorite blankie with a book in one hand and a faint flashlight in the order.

  • Cassandra says:

    I have no words of wisdom, but a hearty thank-you for your brave and vulnerable experiences. All I could do was nod reading this through, you put into words feelings I had for my whole life, but had never actually known what they were.

    Now, to have them not only verbalised but validated, is profoundly reassuring.

    I’m not broken, I’m a special part of the family and without our listening and nurturing, everything else would suffer. But its OK to need care myself.

    Thank-you a hundred times!!

  • This is my first time leaving a reply here. This article really struck home.

    One of the biggest challenges that I wrestle with is doing things quickly. For a lot of people that I work with, they seem to excell at doing things under pressure and quickly. The more I am pressured or the more I am rushed, the more mistakes I will typically make.

    To compensate, I will usually build in extra time for getting things done. Even with getting ready for work I will do this. Or, I at least try to.

    Another challenge I have is pwrsonal space. When marching or running in formation, or when I am driving in a convoy, I have a real difficult time staying in the right spot. My natural tendency is to slow down or move so that I have my ‘personal space.’ Not always appropriate. In such cases, I have to really concentrate and ‘override’ my natural tendency.

  • Yo says:

    Check out the enneagram. I think all INFJs are ennaetype 9w1. Daydreaming anyone?

  • Ashley K says:

    I love when I get an email saying that you have another entry on your site. Everytime I read them I feel understood, and this is a rare occurance for me. I feel even more out of place as I just recently moved to a new city and friends and family live far away and I am the one who has to go see them. Also the fact of not knowing what career I want has been hard for me.

    I am trying to be more in the present moment and to get less anxious about the things out of my control. This is hard for me but still hanging in there!!

    Some new things I want to incorperate into my days are scrapbooking, yoga, learning to meditate and of course would like to start working out more. It would also be nice to make some friends, maybe some INFJ friends if I’m lucky, but I’m not so great at the making friends part. Just being a good long term friend haha.

  • Jen says:

    I dig. INFJ here as well. I totally resonate with what you’re saying. Sometimes we just have to ‘let go’ and enjoy life. Although, I enjoy being introverted and spending much time by myself, I also discovered how freeing it is to just go out and experience a crowd every once in a while. I find that when I have too much alone time, my thoughts get the best of me (I have a habit of ruminating, not sure if any other INFJ’s feel this way too)… so when I keep myself super busy by going out, etc. I find myself less stressed because I am not so intensely focused on what is going on inside my head.

  • Nga says:

    Meditation has been my gateway to freedom – more gentleness, more calm, more light have come my way because of it.

  • Angela A. says:

    Currently, my commute to work is about 30 minutes. Because listening to the radio either frustrates me (commercials) or gives me anxiety (local news reports), I’ve started listening to books on cd. Because I like to read so much anyway, I have really found this enjoyable and I actually look forward to my downtime in my car…I order the books online from my library

  • Jarukanya says:

    I think it’s wise to make time for ourselves. Sometimes life gets too busy and before we know it, we become completely drained and exhausted.

  • yasyfinoo says:

    INFJ here! this is so me, especially the perfectionist part. I’m laughing now. i wanna share my thought. I started college 2 months ago, my major is architecture. My first time got an assignment in college was.. i wanted to do it perfectly. But the deadline didn’t let me do that way. So, i’ve decided i don’t wanna make any assignment of mine to be perfectly perfect. At least, i can make it done 2 days or 1 day before the deadline ::smile:: so.. i’ve tried to be less perfectionist that i could lol. anyway, being grateful when i have a spare time(really, a day when i don’t drawing) is my way to be relax. So, be grateful even on small things you have 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    Feeling the INFJ love! Thanks for this great article and the discussion. When I’m feeling really stressed/upset with myself about something, I do this mental activity: I imagine there is a camera in outer space that has been focused on me, and I take control of it (my perspective is now from space, looking down at the earth) and zoom out until I can see the whole world. I also imagine that time has ‘zoomed out’ and I try to consider eternity. This puts my current problem in perspective and makes me realize how very, very small it is.

  • Jan says:

    Thanks for this. It’s refreshing to hear someone write this way. I was in such rough shape two years ago that I put myself in counseling to get untangled from the Web of my mind. It’s super frustrating to see other people’s situations with clarity and when it comes to myself I’m often clueless as to the root of my problems. I feel like a lot of infjs must struggle with anxiety and it rears it’s ugly head in odd ways. I recently met up with this counselor again and told her I came back because I was struggling with my relationships with my kids. Not that they were bad, but the futuristic thoughts/perfectionism and desire to fix/help I think were causing me anxiety. My counselor shared a fictional story with me that really hit home with me this past week. I won’t share the story verbatim but the catch phrase in it was “we’ll see”. Basically she was encouraging me to let go of perfectionism and just letting my kids lives play out the way they were going to play out. To stop stressing about every angle. It’s mortifying to even have to admit that I need to do that, but I must if I’m going to have sanity!

    It would be fabulous if I could just figure out how to express my feelings….lol

  • Anna says:

    Finding this website/blog has been a real revelation for me! It’s kind of comforting to find that my way of feeling and dealing with the world is not odd, just unusual. That realization in itself has taken a lot of pressure off me, and in a very short space of time I have started to feel kinder towards/more accepting of myself and my quirks.

    Aside from that I would say that walking in nature and hanging out with my dog is a great way for me to relax – you have the pleasure of company, but without the pressure that sometimes comes with it… (I love hanging out with people too, but in healthy doses…) Just being around animals in general is great. Music too. And yoga, which has also made me feel a lot more connected with my body.

  • Rebecca says:

    I feel so blessed to have stumbled across this. I am, at 49 years old, just beginning to understand myself. I have have been called a hippie, a free spirit, perfectionist, too driven, etc etc. What people don’t understand is all that goes on inside our head. What we feel in our hearts. I don’t always understand all that I feel either. How could someone else? So very comforting to know that I may not be crazy.

  • lonimee says:

    Am so relieved to find other people who are just like me! Now I can stop being so hard on my self and not let anxiety get the better part of me. Being a perfectionist too doesn’t help matters but that’s who we are. Thanks Amelia for this article.

  • Raja says:

    “Be present of mind.” It’s what I wish I could remember to do all the time, whenever I get caught up in my thoughts. Ever since I embraced being an introvert and accepted that I’m not always going to behave the same way as my extrovert counterparts, that’s ok! There’s nothing wrong with me and I don’t need to feel apologetic or guilty about it. However, I also know that I can’t use it as an excuse if I’m somewhere where I need to be in the “outside” world. That if I’m with friends and family or coworkers, I need to participate in life and not miss out on what’s going on around me. I need to be “present in mind” to get the balance I need of both “inside” and “outside” worlds.

  • Gabbie says:

    Very timely and spot on!
    I tend to unwind by cross-stitch or knitting – focusing on repetitive motions clears and calms the INFJ very loud mind

  • Arina says:

    When I got so caught up in thoughts my best remedy usually is playing guitar. I would usually try to find new song to learn about instead of playing song I have known so it helps me keeps moving forward and clear out heavy mind.

  • Tess says:

    She has Youtube videos? What is the name of her channel, please?

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