The Batteries That Work Best
This summer, we’re taking a close look at how we can feel restored and refreshed. As our bodies, minds and spirits continue to recover from the incredible stress of a prolonged, world-wide pandemic, it’s important to be intentional about resting and recharging our batteries. But just as our household appliances require different types of batteries, rejuvenation is not a one-size-fits all approach. We respond to stress differently, depending on the unique way that we are wired. And the de-stressing technique that will work best may depend on our personality.
There are many different ways of assessing personality, but this article will use the Enneagram as a tool to help us discover the restoration practices that work best. The Enneagram (from the Greek word for “nine”) is a personality framework that explores nine different types. Each type, represented by a number, has its own unique motivation, fears and goals as it navigates through life. If you’d like to learn more about how the Enneagram can be a tool for transformation, this article is a good starting place.
Type One – the Reformer
Ones are motivated by the desire to improve themselves and their surroundings. They have a strong moral compass that helps them discern right from wrong, but they also tend to battle with a harsh inner critic. Ones may experience stress when they make mistakes or when they are surrounded by people they feel are irresponsible, lazy or incompetent.
When stressed, Ones can be irritable, sarcastic and, in extreme stress, hostile and withdrawn. Here are some helpful ways that Ones can de-stress and recharge:
• Schedule breaks throughout the day to stretch and release tension. Even better, spend some time away from your work environment, breathing deeply and decompressing.
• Practice saying kind and affirming things to yourself to offset your inner critic.
• Make space for spontaneity and fun. Hang out with people who allow you to be silly and who make you laugh.
Type Two – the Helper
Twos are motivated by the desire to help others. If their own needs are not met, they may fall into unhealthy patterns of self-sacrifice and depletion. Twos may experience stress if they feel taken for granted or if they fail to set boundaries.
When stressed, Twos can be blunt and aggressive, instead of their normal kind selves. Twos can feel rejuvenated by:
• Intentionally setting aside time each day (set a reminder if need be!) for self-care, whether it’s a walk, a bath or reading a book.
• Creating healthy boundaries in relationships. Make sure at least some of your friendships are ones that fill you up instead of depleting you.
• Pause and evaluate if it’s a good fit before making commitments.
A.P., a Two, says that she had to initiate an ‘I’ll let you know’ rule for herself in order to work against burn-out. “I was in the habit of automatically saying yes and regretting it later once it sank in what I had agreed to,” she notes. “I started telling people I would let them know instead of saying yes which gave me the time to consider the request without feeling on the spot.”
Type Three – the Achiever
Threes are motivated by the need to accomplish goals and appear successful. This drive to achieve can become unhealthy when Threes push themselves too hard, leading to burn-out. Threes may experience stress if they are not able to see progress toward a goal or if they feel like they have failed at something.
When stressed, Threes can become disconnected and apathetic, instead of motivated. Threes can recharge by:
• Setting firm boundaries between work and your personal life! Don’t read work emails or do work-related tasks outside your decided-on work hours.
• Connect with a friend and allow yourself to be fully present, vulnerable and unplugged from all devices.
• Find a creative outlet that is non-competitive, such as sketching, photography or journaling.
K.S., a Three, found that the “do not disturb” feature on her phone to be helpful in maintaining the work/personal life boundary. “The constant distraction of alerts while I’m trying to be in the present increases my stress levels,” she says. “Many of our devices have features like this to help us disconnect when necessary.”
Type Four – the Individualist
Fours are motivated by the need to express themselves as unique, creative individuals. They desire authentic connections and fully experiencing emotions. Being misunderstood or feeling creatively blocked, as well as being micromanaged and forced to follow too many rules can all be stressors for Fours.
When stressed, Fours can self-isolate and/or become clingy and excessively needy when they feel disconnected from others. Here are some helpful ways that Fours can de-stress:
• Connect with a close friend who listens. Being allowed to express your feelings and without minimize them can be a great boost.
• Get outside and appreciate God’s beautiful creation.
• Take a close look at your routines and see if you can make healthy changes that generate peace and space for creativity.
I.G. is a Four and has noticed that “Being able to connect with someone that creates/encourages an environment where you can fully express your personality is extremely important. A lot of times it takes someone else’s excitement/enthusiasm to kickstart my own.”
Type Five – the Investigator
Fives are motivated by the desire to understand the world around them. They are curious and insightful individuals who value privacy and boundaries. Fives may experience stress when they don’t have enough time alone or if they feel their boundaries are being breached.
When stressed, Fives can lose focus and become detached. In extreme stress, they may turn to unhealthy habits in order to escape. Here are some ways that Fives can feel restored:
• Establish routines of physical activity, whether it’s walking, working out or martial arts. While you are moving, pay attention to your breathing and to your body.
• Schedule time to be alone and recharge – and make others aware so they can respect this solitary time.
• Find a safe person that you can share your emotions with, who will respect your boundaries but also challenge you to feel.
Type Six – the Loyalist
Sixes are motivated by the need to feel safe and secure. They are worst-case-scenario thinkers who thrive in predictable routines while also being hypervigilant, looking for ways that disaster could strike at any moment. Sixes may experience stress when their world becomes chaotic or unpredictable or when they lose trust in others.
When stressed, Sixes can spiral with anxiety or become overly fixated on problem-solving or achieving tasks. Sixes can de-stress and feel rejuvenated by:
• Daily unplugging from social media, news stories and your to-do list. Spend time in solitude, listening to music or taking a walk.
• Focusing on your body, especially when you find yourself beginning to spiral. Do you need to eat something? Drink water? Rest? Breathe deeply?
• Take a realistic and logical inventory of your fears when “catastrophizing” begins. What will you do if the worst thing happens? What is the best-case scenario?
“Taking care of myself physically is the only way I’ve managed to combat stress successfully,” says K.M., a Six. “When I slack off on my regular fitness routines, I feel the difference mentally almost immediately – my anxiety skyrockets.”
Type Seven – the Enthusiast
Sevens are motivated by the desire to experience all the joy and adventure life has to offer. They despise boredom, which can lead them to overcommitting or not following through. Sevens may experience stress when they feel stuck or micromanaged or when they have too many deadlines or responsibilities.
When stressed, Sevens can be scattered and seek fun ways to escape. In extreme stress, Sevens can become critical and judgmental. For a Seven to de-stress they can:
• Learn how to pay attention to and express your emotions, especially negative ones (this is hard for Sevens). Talk to a trusted friend, journal or listen to a song that mirrors what you feel.
• Make a regular habit of stillness and time alone, whether in meditation, prayer or simply silence.
• Limit your focus to two or three projects at a time, to help avoid burn-out.
Type Eight – the Challenger
Eights are motivated by the desire to be competent and in control. Confident and strong-willed, they love a good challenge and will do anything in their power to avoid seeming weak. They hate being told they can’t do something – even if it’s by their own bodies. Eights may experience stress when they feel powerless, manipulated or controlled by someone else.
When stressed, Eights can become more confrontational than usual. In extreme stress, they may withdraw and shut down. Here are some helpful ways that Eights can recharge:
• Develop a regular physical routine that allows you to break a sweat. Occasionally mix it up with an activity that can be a friendly competition (focus on friendly!).
• Spend time by yourself on a regular basis, so you can decompress and breathe.
• Find a safe person that you can be vulnerable with. Vulnerability is hard for Eights, but is an essential part of self-awareness and growth.
Says K.G., an Eight: “My tendency to control more and delegate less often leave me feeling like I’ve put myself on an island or taken a too-big bite of the apple. If I begin to feel like I’m losing control, I reset with time alone, grounding myself with simpler, tactile tasks that feel neat and tidy. Reorganizing closets, folding and putting away laundry, where things fit neatly into categories helps to bring me back to zero.”
Type Nine – the Peacemaker
Nines are motivated by the desire for peace and harmony. Relaxed and easy-going, they are able to see both sides in an argument, which makes them good mediators. But Nines also have a hard time identifying what they want. Nines experience stress when there is a conflict, when there are too many demands put upon them or when they feel pressured into doing something they don’t want to do.
When stressed, Nines will ignore their own needs to promote harmony. Under extreme stress, they can become stubbornly passive-aggressive and lethargic. Here are some helpful ways that Nines can be restored:
• Set your alarm for a little earlier than usual to allow yourself time to ease into your day. Establish a morning routine that brings you peace.
• Give yourself permission to express your needs and wants and to say “No” to things you don’t want to do. If you don’t know what you want, spend some time journaling or talking with a trusted friend to explore the answer.
• Pay attention to your body. What does it need? Take deep breaths to restore calm.
J.P. is a Nine and notes that “Inertia can be a real struggle for Nines. Pushing myself to do something doesn’t sound restful, but sometimes forcing myself to do something I’ve been procrastinating on actually brings the peace and calm I crave.”
Stress is a normal part of life and we all need help managing it better. The suggestions in this article are only a few of the many ways that we can alleviate stress, but hopefully these techniques will help you focus on which ones work best for your personality. If you’d like to learn more about the nine different types of the Enneagram, the Enneagram Institute is a helpful resource.
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