Managing Your Stress: One Size Does Not Fit All
June 18, 2018
Coming back from New York City and a wonderful event at BookExpo 2018, exhibiting “Be Happy NOW!”, I am reflecting on a what I used to say when people ask me if I was stressed: “Oh, I am fine, thank you. I have an advanced degree in stress. I worked on Wall Street for almost 10 years as a Managing Director.”
Now, I have advanced certifications in stress management, big difference! My perspective and understanding of the physiological and psychological effects of stress has significantly expanded since I became a Certified Stress Reduction Specialist and an affiliate of From Stressed to Best™ as well as an MBTI® Certified Practitioner in 2013.
As an “INFJ” (Personality Type “The Persistent Counselor”), I now turn all my strategic and analytical skills honed over 30 years in corporate and investment banking to working with clients to understand the pernicious and pervasive health effects of stress and how to reduce their everyday stress.
Have you ever gone through a Myers-Briggs® Personality Type Assessment? In my BankAmerica career, I went through at least 3 team building workshops using MBTI®. Then in 2010, I experienced the From Stressed to Best™ framework (which uses MBTI® as a foundational element) in a session with David Prudhomme. I immediately knew this framework, created by Ruth E. Schneider and David S Prudhomme was distinctive, because they applied the tool to help people manage stress, understand how we are all hard-wired differently and how to improve every relationship in our lives, including with ourselves.
Managing Your Stress:
Did you know that everyone experiences physical stress in similar ways, but that we all experience stress, mentally and emotionally, in different ways based on our personality type?
Each of 16 distinct Personality Types has unique strengths and stressors. What stresses you out is likely very different from what stresses your associate, friend or partner. This is exactly why a one-size-fits all approach to stress management is not effective.
The starting point is to discover your unique 4-Letter Personality Type. If you do not know your 4-Letter Personality Type – or have forgotten it from previous training seminars -- please see my offer for a FREE 15-minute introductory consultation and access to a FREE Quick Self-Assessment¹ which will reveal your 4-Letter Personality Type.
The key is to identify your Best Mode – based on your 4-Letter Personality Type. In your Best Mode you are at your most effective and best self.
In your Stress Mode – you are less effective and actually the opposite of who you are when you are at your best.
Now you have a stress management tool tailored for you, which you can use every day.
Let’s Get Real… Specific
In general, when someone is stressed – they are not who they “really” are. It is usually not a good place or time to make decisions, much less force decisions. When someone is stressed, they are often either rehashing the past and criticizing themselves – or alternatively, -- thinking about the future and everything that could go wrong, catastrophizing.
Here are 2 examples.
Example #1: Personality Types who tend to lash out and worry about the future when they are stressed.
Under stress, ISTJs, “The Duty Bound Inspector” and ISFJs, “The Always Ready Helper,” tend to talk out loud about everything that might go wrong. They tend to lose perspective on the details and can become overwhelmed or confused. Their Stress Mode is Extroverted iNtuition.
This is the opposite of their Best Most – when they are most effective, connected and the very best of who they can be – which is Introverted Sensing. Both ISTJs and ISFJs have filing cabinets in their head – they remember everything!
So, if you are an ISTJ or an ISFJ, when you are stressed it is important for you to: 1) STOP; 2) Be aware you are stressed and can choose how you want to respond, rather than react; 3) Breathe and activate the Relaxation Response; and 4) Shift – Go To – your Best Mode, Introverted Sensing. This means you may want to stop talking and take some quiet time to reflect. What are the facts?
The Driving Force for ISTJs: “To make sure things meet your stringent standards.” Approximately 5% of the population.
The Driving Force for ISFJs: “To protect others from pitfalls.” Approximately 5% of the population.
Do you recognize yourself or someone you know?
Example #2: Personality Types who tend to withdraw and rehash the past when they are stressed.
Under stress, ENTPs, “The Inventor of Interesting Solutions” and ENFPs, “The Champion of Important Causes,” tend to become uncharacteristically quiet, and rewind the past, the details of things which went wrong. They lose perspective on the big picture and can become obsessed with the little things they could or “should” have done differently. Their Stress Mode is Introverted Sensing.
This is the opposite of their Best Most – when they are most effective, connected and the very best of who they can be – which is Extroverted iNtuition. Both ENTPs and ENFPs have a great ability to see the big picture, to imagine, what if and see the possibilities for the future.
So, if you are an ENTP or an ENFP, when you are stressed it is important for you to: 1) STOP; 2) Be aware you are stressed and can choose how you want to respond, rather than react; 3) Breathe and activate the Relaxation Response; and 4) Shift – Go To – your Best Mode, Extroverted iNtuition. This means you will want to talk out loud and focus on all the possibilities.
The Driving Force for ENTPs “To change the world!” Approximately
1% of the population.
The Driving Force for ENFPs is “To understand yourself and the world! Approximately 5% of the population.
Do you recognize yourself or someone you know?
These are just 4 examples of the 16 Personality Types and how we use the From Stressed to Best™ program to coach people to become more aware of their personal Stress Mode – and, even more importantly, to know where to go – to their Best Most, where they are the most effective and best version of their true self.
Intrigued yet? I certainly hope so. We have barely scratched the surface of the power to take back control and how you will learn to respond, rather than react, to stressful situations.
What is your health worth to you? There are important tools available to you, to your associates, to your loved ones to learn how to reduce everyday stress.
Remember: Stress management is not a one-size fits all list.
Just Breathe: The 7x – 7x – 7 x- Formula
The From Stressed to Best™ framework is a holistic framework and integrates the mind-body connection. We know that our physiological response to stress – the Flight or Fight response is the same for all of us. We also know that deep diaphragmatic breathing will activate the Relaxation Response. This physiological response is the same for all of us.
For all of us analytic types, please know that you cannot think your way out of stress. If your body is experiencing stress – whether you “know” it or not – you first have to release the tension. Breathing – deep diaphragmatic breathing will position you to start to think clearly.
Because taking a few deep breaths is always an important step in moving from your Stress Mode to your Best Mode, I highly recommend the 7x-7x-7x Formula:
Make this a habit. When you are in the habit of relaxing your body, releasing tension, with 7 deep breaths, 7 times a day, every day -- you know exactly what you need to do when you are stressed.
It is easy, right? Certainly, there are other techniques, such as meditation. I practice meditation on a regular basis. At the same time, breathing is something we all do – we just need the practice of doing it the right way.
What Time is It? If Not NOW, When?
Keep this clock on your computer, on your desk, on your refrigerator, in your car. Make it your ever-present reminder – Be in the NOW. And being in the NOW is exactly where deep diaphragmatic breathing takes us.
Until next time when we will continue our dialogue on stress and stress management. We will be covering a few more 4-Letter Personality Types as well as some great meditations for releasing stress.
References and Resources:
In the meantime, please look into these excellent resources:
And, please consider signing up or referring a friend or colleague to discover your 4-Letter Personality Type:
Till next time,
May you be happy now and always, Alison
¹Footnote: The Quick Self-Assessment was developed by Ruth Schneider and David Prudhomme for using the From Stressed to Best™ program to manage your stress. This is copyrighted material, as noted on the Form.
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