Deal with Stress & Anxiety based on your personality type

If you want feelings of ease, freedom, and connection in your life, you might want to consider finding the solution from within your personality type.

Anxiety and stress often come up because you have an internal conflict. Most times you don’t know this is happening – you just feel “stressed”. Seriously, how many times have you said, “I don’t know what’s wrong, I’m just pissed/stressed/anxious!!” (insert your magical word)

Many things can contribute to internal conflict and some common ones are being stuck in unhealthy and rigid coping strategies or listening to your inner critic.

Your inner critic (as was mine) was developed in our childhood to keep us safe. Some things that kept us safe at age 6, no longer apply at age, let’s say 36.

It’s holding you back and not allowing you to experience freedom. Often it lies to you. All in the name of safety (insert eye roll).

A tool I use in my coaching practice to help my clients achieve growth and to deal with stress and anxiety is using the Enneagram.

The Enneagram is a personality typing system. It identifies 9 dramatically different personalities, with their fears, motivators, and ways to grow.

The Enneagram allows for personal development by working on life and coping skills. Those are 2 out of the 3 pillars of life mastery (I just made that name up). The 3 pillars are life skills, coping skills, and health management. 

All my clients are taken through the Enneagram test as part of the coaching process, you can also purchase a test with the Enneagram Institute or find free ones online.

What I wanted to do here is walk you through the 9 personality types and suggest ways to deal with the stress and anxiety. Also, I added in healthy coping/life skills that you might benefit from.

Let’s dive in (find your Enneagram number first to get the most benefit!) to deal with the stress and overcome the anxiety!

Enneagram to Deal with Stress and Anxiety

I’ll go through each type, with their theme, what their inner critic says to keep them “safe”, their unhealthy coping strategies, how they can de-stress, and healthy life and coping skills to help with anxiety.

Using this will allow you to deal with stress and anxiety based on your personality.

Each will also have personal development opportunities mentioned.

*Caveat here: because this isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and I don’t know where you’re in your personal development, so this may or may not exactly apply to you, but it’s a great guide.

deal with stress, mom and child, mindfulness, facial, tree with sunlight

Enneagram 1 The Reformer

Your theme is “There is a right way, let me show you how.” Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is you’re good if you do what is right. Your unhealthy coping strategies are judging, having to be right and in control, and having high standards that are impossible to attain.

Beware if you think that others won’t do a good job and you can only do it best – scolding others is not the goal. What causes you stress is when you try to do everything perfectly and trying to do too many things at one time. Stress and anxiety are also present when others don’t understand how hard you’re working and your constant vigilance of your and others high standards.

You tend to work hard on correcting other people that did not “do the right thing”. 

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • stop “should-ing” on yourself
  • letting go of the intense “right way”
  • recognize that your inner critic is selfish and not interested in what is best for your happiness
  • give others (and yourself!) a break.

This will allow you to feel understood by and connected to others, have an inner silence, and be able to see things objectively without emotional overtones/judgment. 

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll know to be human is to err, you’ll be involved with issues for the higher good, and you won’t sacrifice the means for the end result. 

Life and coping skills to add are learning to let others learn from their own mistakes, practice making mistakes, let go of control, practice gratitude, and let others help you. Something to consider adding is massage or energy work to release tension, adopt enjoyment in tasks, meditation, and journaling.

Enneagram 2 The Helper

Your theme is “It’s my pleasure to give, now, what do you need?” Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to find your love and acceptance from others. Your unhealthy coping strategies are to sacrifice your own needs for others.

Beware if you think that you don’t have needs and if you did they don’t matter – self-neglect and self-abuse should not be the goal. What causes you stress is when you feel obligated to take care of too many people and when you do take care of others they don’t appreciate it. Also what can cause anxiety is when people tell you to take care of yourself.

You tend to ignore your own needs and solely focus on the needs of others. Also, you tend to “shirk” your voice so you won’t hurt others feelings.

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • learning what self-care is
  • ways that you can use self-care
  • how self-care relates to your health and wellness
  • start loving yourself

This will allow others to see you as strong, you’ll be authentic and whole, and you’ll find meaning in your life. 

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll be truly loving (to yourself and others), will give freely without strings attached, and you’ll be gracious and humble. 

Life and coping skills to add are self-care and self-love, learning to say no, opening up to others authentically by being vulernable, and letting go of the responsibility to fix other’s suffering.  Something to consider adding to your life are meditation, a self-gratitude journal, daily self-care, and find hobbies you enjoy to participate in. 

Enneagram 3 The Achiever

Your theme is “The Little Engine that could”. Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to find your value in being successful and accomplished. Your unhealthy coping strategies are abandoning your feelings for external goals and reinventing yourself per external expectations.

Beware if you think that scratching more off your to-do list will make you feel better – being a workaholic should not be the goal. What causes you stress and anxiety is when others want you to be emotionally close and when you feel compelled to achieve more.

You tend to be a perfectionist and believe your worth comes from completing and doing more.

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • finding value and worth in your presence
  • reconnecting to your emotions and feelings
  • allowing yourself to be vulnerable
  • start seeing the truth instead of spinning a situation for you to look better

This will allow you to form authentic deep human connections, know you’re valuable just for being present, and create the ability to stop being reactive to others.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll be open, giving, centered, and have more feelings of confidence that you’re doing enough.

Life and coping skills to add are allowing yourself to make mistakes, start before your ready, positive and compassionate self-talk, and deepen your understanding of who you are without goals and successes. Something to consider adding to your life are art for purpose of self-expression and creativity, learn emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and find your person to share your secrets, vulnerability, and truth with.

Enneagram 4 The Individualist

Your theme is “Rescue Me” and “I’ve got to be me.”. Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to follow your feelings because they are the truth. Your unhealthy coping strategies are to search for the ideal situation that will compensate you for what you feel is missing, and to emphasize your uniqueness. This emphasis creates distance and tension in relationships.

Beware, if you think that tension in a relationship is validating your authentic self – tension should not be a goal.  What causes you stress and anxiety is when you feel that others undervalue or misunderstand you and when others do not meet your emotional expectations. Feelings of abandonment are strong.

You tend to fantasize a lot, have a high level of drama, and you desire to be rescued. 

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • stop letting your emotions control you
  • disengaging from emotional drama
  • learning emotional intelligence
  • look for ways to engage and help others in meaningful ways
  • taking action towards your fantasies to let them become reality

This will allow you to form an authentic connection with others that are meaningful and intimate. Also, the emotional roller coaster will stop allowing you to become emotionally balanced.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll have emotional intelligence, you’ll seek connection instead of tension, and you’ll be taking action instead of staying in fantasy mode. 

Life and coping skills to add are emotional intelligence, acknowledging your gifts and talents, following through with a commitment, creating positive self-talk, and start comparing yourself to yourself (stop the jealousy). Something to consider adding to your life are dance, yoga, and mindfulness – and a whole bunch and bunch of positivity. 

Enneagram 5 The Investigator

Your theme is “I don’t need much, but I need my space”. Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to gather more information and master something. Your unhealthy coping strategy is to be self-sufficient and to minimize your physical and emotional needs.

Beware, if you think that learning more before doing will make you feel ok – staying in your head and not participating in life should not be the goal. What causes you stress and anxiety is when others make emotional demands upon you or want some of your time and energy and when you think you don’t know enough.

You tend to collect information and skills before taking action and self-isolate (but not really being an introvert).

You can benefit from de-stress by:

  • connecting to their emotions
  • connecting to your body
  • focus your energy outside of your mind
  • have direct experiences of life and you don’t have to figure everything out
  • being able to know when “enough is enough” and take action

This will allow you to connect to others without feeling depleted, knowing your value is not in gathering more and more knowledge and being able to live life.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll have direct experiences of life, have strengthened intuitive knowledge, and more rounded life skills outside of the mind

Life and coping skills to add are connecting to your body with running or yoga, emotional intelligence, and expanding your connection and participation to your environment (home, outside, relationships, self-care, home maintenance). Something to consider adding to your life are breathwork/meditation/mindfulness, playfulness/humor, massage, allowing others to help, and really connecting to the full range of emotions out there. 

Enneagram 6 The Loyalist

Your theme is “I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t.”  Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” says you’ll be OK if you KNOW what is expected of you.  Your unhealthy coping strategy is to look outside of yourself for the answers.

Beware, if you think that others know what is best for you – having no knowledge of who you are should not be the goal. What causes you stress and anxiety is when you make commitments to more people than you can deliver on, when you’re forced to make a decision, and when you see threats everywhere.

You tend will rely on others to make your decisions and to focus on the worst case scenario. 

You can benefit from de-stress by:

  • learning what you like
  • allowing yourself to make mistakes
  • saying no to more commitments
  • quieting the mind
  • learning to trust yourself

This will allow you to make decisions easier, develop trust in yourself, have time for things that are calming/loving/nurturing, and have inner peace of the mind. 

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth you’ll have courage, know fear, trust in your instincts, and be able to see the positive. 

Life and coping skills to add are emotional intelligence, learning to fail, make decisions, to learn to be optimistic, and being self-trusting. Something to consider adding to your life are breathwork/meditation/mindfulness, playfulness and humor, daily gratitude, and spending time in nature. 

Enneagram 7 The Enthusiast

Your theme is “I love life and want to experience it all!” Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is that you’re good if you get what you want. Your unhealthy coping strategy is being on the search for something more interesting.

Beware if you think that adding more and more will be fun – overwhelmed with commitments is not the goal. What causes you stress and anxiety is feeling you’re stuck with commitments and having too many balls in the air.

You tend to be impatient, seek instant gratification, and overdo things in most areas of your life.

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • learning to say no
  • toning down your excitement/energy levels
  • staying with a project until the end
  • experiencing gratitude for what you have

This will allow you to relax, enjoy more of what you are doing, and feeling confident in completing a project.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth, you will see value in the calm, enjoy the present time, and have self-fulfillment.

Life and coping skills to add are learning meditation, learning how to prioritize, add in gratitude, and experience the feelings of boredom and frustration. Something to consider adding to your life is meditation, allowing yourself to grieve, giving yourself time to go from beginner to expert, and completing projects to gain confidence.

Enneagram 8 The Challenger

Your theme is “I’m a rock” and “Do it my way!”. Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to impose your will and you’ll be good. Your unhealthy coping strategy is always being in control.

Beware if you think that controlling others to protect yourself is best – imposing your will on others is not the goal. What causes you stress is when you become overly self-sufficient, demanding, and controlling. 

You tend to speak in a no-nonsense way, being direct and telling it how it is. You also tend to dominate and refuse to compromise.

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • learning to show your vulnerable side
  • allowing tenderness to be shown to yourself and others
  • tone down your intensity
  • letting others help you

This will allow you to have a gentle big heart, the energy and confidence to meet and overcome obstacles, and to inspire others.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth, you’ll freely focus on the well-being of others, you’ll be courageous and protecting of others, and you can easily work in a team environment.

Life and coping skills to add are meditation, learning to enjoy things without controlling the outcome, and learning to deeply listen to others for understanding. Something to consider adding is learning to delegate, trusting others, and connecting with empathy and emotional warmth.

Enneagram 9 The Peacemaker

Your theme is “Can’t we all just get along?” Your inner critic’s mantra to keep you “safe” is to ensure that others are “OK” and feeling good while ignoring yourself. Your unhealthy coping strategy is to go along with others and not rock the boat.

Beware if you think that ignoring your priorities so others can feel better is best – ignoring your worth should not be the goal. What causes you stress and anxiety is external conflict, ignoring your needs, and making decisions.

You tend to hide your emotions and are often withdrawn.

You can benefit from de-stressing by:

  • learning what is important to you
  • learning what you need and want
  • learning to self-advocate
  • getting involved in life/activities/experiences

This will allow you to get your needs and wants met, allow you to participate in life, and allow people to experience the real you.

And that won’t be a problem because at this level of growth, you’ll know who you are, and you’ll realize your wants, needs, and desires are just as important as others, and you’ll be participating in life.

Life and coping skills to add are learning to deal with conflict, gain self-confidence, follow through with what has the deepest meaning and purpose for you, and be engaged and present in the now. Something to consider adding to your days is meditation, massages, and speaking up for your beliefs and needs.

Enneagram

Wrap up and Action

If you don’t know your Enneagram number, you’ll benefit from finding it.

This will allow you to use a unique tool to deal with your stress and anxiety from a personality angle.

I understand that the suggested skills to add will be easy for you to add. Let’s say you’re the Type 2 The Helper, and seeing your way out of stress and anxiety is self-care. I can see how that could seem like a huge mountain to overcome. Your inner critic is strong – but not cemented forever.

I want you to know you’re capable and I can help you with this.

The action to take (after knowing your number) is to find 1 life or coping skill OR 1 de-stressor to add to your daily life. Start with 1, build up the skill and habit, and once that is in place, you can come back and add in another.

The new skill or de-stressor will not replace the first one you added, you’re adding skill sets.

Please contact me if you’d like to explore working with me on the Enneagram.

Please share this post with others that are interested in lowering their stress and anxiety in a different way.

XO