How to Relieve Grip Stress, According to your Personality Type

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on January 13, 2023

Feeling stressed? You’re not alone. Recent research shows that four in ten adults regularly feel worried or stressed out. Chances are, you know the conventional tips for reducing stress: meditate, take a walk in nature, get enough sleep and so on. 

While these activities can help with managing stress, they don’t always work – at least not for all of us. Your friend, for example, leans on group exercise classes to help her stay grounded. But when you tried one, you felt even more overwhelmed than before. 

There’s something poignant about this, and it strongly correlates to personality type. 

As we explained in our previous article about grip stress, every personality type responds to stress differently. In times of severe or ongoing psychological discomfort, we enter what’s known as the grip: a state in which we flip from using our dominant function to our inferior one.

When we’re in the grip, we tend to act out of character, often doing, saying and thinking things that we never normally would. 

Because each personality type responds to stress differently, it makes sense that we each need different mechanisms to relieve stress.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a guide on the best grip stress remedies for each personality type. 

ENFP: Reconnect with your imagination

Warm, creative and spontaneous ENFPs often become pessimistic, withdrawn and defensive when under persistent stress. Some things that push this personality type into the grip include too much time in a highly structured environment, ongoing criticism, and saying yes to too many commitments. 

For stressed-out ENFPs, recovering from grip stress is about reconnecting with their core values and beautiful imaginations. Simple but vital self-care activities like sleep or a walk in nature can help them to shake off negative feelings. As well as these, listening to music, painting, writing and other creative outlets are fantastic ways for this type to rediscover their intuitive streak. 

ENFJ: Have someone you trust validate your feelings

Altruistic and driven, the ENFJ moves through life with an underlying mission to make the world a better place. In times of great stress, though, empathetic ENFJs may become highly self-critical, withdrawing from the world around them and obsessing over their past failures.

To get back to their true selves, this type should confide in trusted friends or family members, who can remind them of their strengths and validate their feelings. As well as this, lighthearted distractions can be an excellent way for them to rediscover their innate functions. Laughing with friends, learning about a new topic or social sports can all help ENFJs to bounce back from a stressful period. 

INFJ: Seek clarity

Known for being insightful, empathetic and quietly determined, INFJs often feel impulsive and scattered in the grip. To relieve their overwhelm, this type should speak to a trusted friend or family member about their emotions. While it may initially feel uncomfortable to open up, sharing their feelings is a great way to bring clarity to a stressful situation. 

Alongside communicating how they feel, the INFJ should practice self-care, engaging in healthy sensory activities like hiking, going to the gym or, dare we say it, yoga. 

INFP: Reignite your natural empathy

Kind, imaginative and whimsical INFPs often feel uncharacteristically critical, frantic and rigid in the grip. To find their way back to themselves, they should seek out stillness and calm, bringing themselves back to the present moment as new thoughts and worries enter their mind. 

Alongside practicing mindfulness, it’s vital for the INFP to reignite their imaginations and intrinsic empathy. Activities like volunteering, spending time with cherished family and friends or creating art can ease this personality type out of their inferior function. 

ENTP: Get out into the world and socialize

The grip state can sadly make the ENTP feel like a shell of themselves. Typically outgoing and quick-witted, they may become uncharacteristically paranoid and self-isolating. While the last thing a stressed-out ENTP may want to do is get out into the world and socialize, it’s one of the best ways to climb out of the grip.

Volunteering in the community, chatting with friends and meeting new people are excellent ways for the ENTP to start using their dominant function again.  

ENTJ: Be alone; be gentle with yourself

Ambitious, forthright ENTJs may feel atypically sensitive and anxious in the grip. To return to a healthy state, it’s vital for ENTJs to be gentle with themselves. They may find this challenging initially, but allowing themselves to feel their emotions can be cathartic. A little alone time can also be valuable if this type feels like they are near an emotional outburst. 

Alongside this, the ENTJ will find great relief in engaging in intense exercise like running or HIIT training. These sensory activities engage their tertiary function (extraverted sensing), effectively lifting them out of grip mode.

INTJ: Say ‘no’ to help you recharge and recalibrate

Usually intellectual and quietly confident, INTJs in the grip may battle feelings of low self-esteem and lose sight of their long-range visions. To find equilibrium, INTJs, above all things, need precious alone time. They are introverted, after all. Solitude is vital for this type to process their insights and recalibrate. 

With that in mind, they should consider saying no to new commitments, prioritize getting the space and quiet they need, and give themselves time to recharge their batteries.   

INTP: Decompress through small analytical challenges 

INTPs are natural innovators, brimming with logic and new ideas. In the grip, though, this type becomes paranoid and hypersensitive, often worrying about their personal relationships. To find balance, the INTP should try to engage their creative, analytical side in small ways. For example, they could read a book or watch a film, and try to deduce where the plot may lead or what a character’s intentions are.

Crucially, the INTP should engage in these activities alone or, at the least, find time in their diaries to process their feelings and decompress from the outer world. 

ESTP: Get out of your head by talking

ESTPs are typically known for being pragmatic, laidback and grounded. But in the grip, this type becomes uncharacteristically anxious, often plagued by worries about whether they are liked or what could go wrong in the future. 

To bounce back, ESTPs should speak to friends or family about their preoccupations. Doing so can help this type see the wood for the trees. 

ESTJ: Set your responsibilities aside

Pragmatic, efficient and outgoing, ESTJs are often pillars of strength in their communities. However, they become unusually insecure and irritable when they are plagued by grip stress, often suffering from emotional outbursts or withdrawing from the world.

ESTJs can return to equilibrium by, first, giving themselves permission to take a break from their responsibilities. Enjoyable activities like seeing friends, reading a book or going to the cinema can be very relaxing for this type. Alongside these, remedies like intense physical exercise, talking to a trusted confidant and reframing the stressful situation as a problem that needs a logical solution can all help. 

ISTJ: Leave the problem be and let it flow through you 

The typically practical, reserved and orderly ISTJ may feel surprisingly pessimistic and overwhelmed in the grip. This type can recalibrate by planning much-needed alone time for themselves, so they can decompress from external commitments. 

While it might seem counterproductive at first, it’s almost essential for this type to resist the urge to solve the problem. This will only heighten the catastrophizing nature of their inferior function, extraverted intuition. So, stay grounded in the present moment and allow your negative emotions to pass through you. 

ISTP: Indulge in sensory activities

The enigmatic ISTP is usually independent and ambitious, marching to the beat of their own drum. In grip stress, this type becomes incongruously people-pleasing, fraught with worries that they aren’t good enough. 

ISTPs can alleviate grip stress by seeking solitude to reflect on the stressful situation and wind down. Taking part in sensory activities like intense physical exercise or visiting a new place can also help them to reconnect with the more advanced functions in their cognitive stack.

ESFP: Realign your outer world with your inner world

ESFPs are wonderfully lighthearted and fun, yet sensitive and perceptive. In the grip, this type is often plagued by paranoia, their minds brimming with concerns that other people don’t like them or that bad occurrences are on the horizon. 

To return to their authentic selves, ESFPs can undertake several valuable activities. Firstly, talking to trusted friends about their problems can be helpful. This can be as in-depth as explaining the whole situation that has triggered stress or simply asking for reassurance if their self-esteem is low.

On top of this, ESFPs will benefit from reflecting on their core values and personal goals. By realigning their outside worlds with their internal aspirations, ESFPs can discover a more profound sense of purpose that makes stressful situations manageable. 

ESFJ: Force yourself to get a change of scene

Warmhearted, devoted and pragmatic, ESFJs may feel like shadows of their former selves in the grip, becoming uncharacteristically introverted, self-critical and scattered.

When they’re feeling this way, the last thing an ESFJ may want to do is get out in the world, but it is one of the best remedies. Spending time with trusted friends, laughter and a change of scenery can engage this type’s more developed functions. True to their organized characters, activities like cleaning, gardening or scrapbooking can also ease stressful feelings. 

ISFJ: Rein in your perfectionism

The usually gentle and pragmatic ISFJ can become uncharacteristically critical, anxious and impulsive in periods of great stress. To feel like themselves again, these empathetic types should treat themselves with compassion. Rather than catastrophizing about what could happen and becoming overwhelmed, they can relieve stress by breaking tasks down into manageable sections and easing the reins on their perfectionist tendencies. 

As well as prioritizing, ISFJs can also ask their friends, family and colleagues for help. This personality type tends to take on too much to keep the peace, but they mustn’t forsake their well-being. Being open about their problems and leaning on friends and family can help ISFJs rediscover their core characteristics. 

ISFP: Do something creative to regain your sense of self

Grip stress leaves the typically gentle and empathetic ISFP feeling unusually obsessed with achieving efficiency and order. This type should learn to balance their external commitments with their internal needs for solitude and reflection to regain their sense of selves. 

Time spent alone, especially pursuing creative endeavors, is an excellent way for the ISFP to reduce stress.  

The cause is just as important as your reaction

For all this advice on better managing stress, we want to note that every person’s circumstances differ. While stress is an inevitable part of life, repeated feelings might signal that something in your life needs to change. 

So, as you consider how to alleviate the stress in your life, we hope you also view your situation holistically, using the gifts unique to your personality type to find the best route forward. 

Hannah Pisani

Hannah Pisani is a freelance writer based in London, England. A type 9 INFP, she is passionate about harnessing the power of personality theory to better understand herself and the people around her - and wants to help others do the same. When she's not writing articles, you'll find her composing songs at the piano, advocating for people with learning difficulties, or at the pub with friends and a bottle (or two) of rose.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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