How ENFPs React to Stress (and How to Get Back on Track)

Energetic, outgoing and creative, ENFPs are highly social individuals who crave fun and freedom. They love coming up with new ideas and original solutions and sharing them in an enthusiastic way. Empathetic ENFPs also love connecting with others emotionally and helping them to express their feelings. Together these traits form a person who is friendly, interesting and popular with almost everyone they meet.

Despite their fun-loving and gregarious nature, however, ENFPs are just as susceptible to stress as any other type. So what is it about these compassionate people that makes them so vulnerable to stress? And what can they and their loved ones do about it?

Why ENFPs Become Stressed

While the ENFP appears to have all the skills she needs to become successful in both work and social settings, she also faces some challenges, just like any other type. Here are some reasons why ENFPs become stressed:

  • Poor practical skills. While ENFPs excel at idea generation, they struggle with the details and administrative work needed to follow projects through to completion, leaving many of their ideas stagnating and unrealized.
  • Lack of focus. ENFPs are curious, philosophical individuals who are interested in people and ideas, but this can lead them to exploring the next exciting concept rather than the work at hand.
  • Independence. While some autonomy is healthy, ENFPs tend to have a hard time accepting rules or regulations, causing them to balk at any perceived restrictions on their freedom.
  • Overthinking. ENFPs question everything, but they can become obsessed with asking themselves why people act the way they do, what it all means and what they should do about it, leaving them worried and anxious.
  • Intense emotions. ENFPs are an interesting combination of empathic socializer and sensitive dreamer, and they tend to be very emotional. Unfortunately, their passionate outbursts of feeling, especially when they’re under stress, can be damaging to their relationships. They also dislike conflict and are likely to withdraw rather than deal with difficulties.
  • Sensitivity. While sensitivity is not a flaw, it can present challenges for the ENFP, who is highly aware of others’ feelings and takes any kind of criticism personally, which can weaken her self-esteem. A study in the journal Psychological Bulletin showed that low self-esteem can lead to depression. ENFPs also overextend themselves and give too much in response to people’s demands for help and end up feeling overwhelmed.

The ENFP Under Stress

When ENFPs become stressed, their normally friendly and cheerful natures turn irritable, emotional, defensive and reactive. They often feel overwhelmed, struggle to communicate, shut out other people and reject new ideas.

Feeling trapped, out of control and unable to find a way out, they can become extremely critical of others, lashing out, blaming and finding fault with everything and everyone as they try to regain control. For some ENFPs, this can develop into a focus on routine and order, and a strict demand that everything is done their way.

ENFPs under stress also fail to see any fault in themselves. They deceive themselves as a way of coping, pretending that they are not at fault. Eventually, however, they can feel hopeless and depressed as their energy turns inward and they begin to feel numb inside.

This normally energetic type also feels the effects of stress physically, becoming exhausted and suffering from fatigue. Their tendency to give too much and do too much can make them neglect their own needs for sleep, rest and relaxation.

Unfortunately, this type is the least likely to recognize when stress has affected them and it’s only when they become ill or a crisis occurs that they realize how stressed out they’ve become.

How ENFPs Can Help Themselves

When ENFPs are stressed, they can feel locked in their interior selves as they become increasingly depressed and struggle to find a way out. Their efforts to regain control by criticizing and controlling others, working harder and pushing people away only makes things worse. There are ways for ENFPs to cope with stressful situations, however. Here are some tips to help you get back to your normal, enthusiastic self:

  • Attend to your own physical needs. ENFPs spend so much time bouncing from one activity to the next that they often fail to look after themselves. You can help to prevent and alleviate your stress by getting enough sleep, eating properly and taking time out to rest and enjoy some ‘down time’ in your daily routine. Exercising outdoors with a relaxing walk in nature can also be extremely calming.
  • Learn to say 'no.' ENFPs are sensitive souls who love to engage with others, but they can easily give too much. Many people are drawn to your engaging and compassionate personality, but there are many who will take advantage of your kindness. Keep a balance between giving to others and taking care of yourself by delegating tasks and pausing before you say ‘yes’ to requests for help. Remember, it’s okay to say 'no.'
  • Check in with yourself. If you are becoming picky about details, overly critical or unnecessarily controlling, take a step back and check to see how stressed you are. There may be circumstances that are causing you stress that you haven’t paid attention to, especially those involving doing too much for others. Take some time to relax and don’t make any serious decisions while you are stressed.

Tips for Friends and Family

Friends and family can be very helpful in getting the ENFP out of his stressful state. Try these stress-busting techniques before the ENFP finds it all too overwhelming:

  • Give a stressed out ENFP some time and space to calm down.
  • Encourage her to take a break from the stressful situation and get a change of scenery.
  • Don’t offer advice or solutions when he’s feeling stressed.
  • Listen with compassion, not criticism, if she wants to talk about her feelings.
  • Encourage him to take regular outdoor exercise.
  • Ask her to join you in a nature walk, watch a movie or a weekend away.
  • Reassure him that he is capable and competent.

It’s often difficult for ENFPs to even recognize when they are feeling the effects of stress and so they struggle, often in counterproductive ways, to get themselves back on track. Awareness of what causes you stress and how it makes you feel, whether it’s depressed, critical, irritable or controlling, is the first step. With a little help from loved ones, you can then give yourself the time, care and compassion you so often give to others.

Deborah Ward

Deborah Ward is a writer, editor and an INFJ. She has a passion for writing articles, blog posts and books that inspire, motivate and encourage people to build self-confidence and live up to their potential. Her latest book is Overcoming Low Self-Esteem with Mindfulness. Deborah lives in Hampshire, England, where she enjoys watching documentaries, running and taking long walks in the country, especially ones that finish at a cosy pub.


Phyllis R Cox, LPC (not verified) says...

This is why I'm accused of stressing out before I can even think, "wow, I'm really stressed!". I'm so busy caring for others and being a part of helping others feel better that I do feel a weird lonely and numb inside. I do give myself some down time now that I'm older, but I prefer to spend that time with family and friends as well, not alone. I have now set aside an "alone" time each evening where I can think, watch something mindless on TV, read, and generally get in touch with my inner child. 

Anand Choudhury (not verified) says...

This whole article is written in a way which i exactly feel like. I too belong to ENFP and i thank you deborah for writting 110 % accurately what an ENFP feels like. Hats off to your research and analytical skills which i think has been especially god gifted to you.

Sasha M. (not verified) says...

Wow, very informative. Thank you for the information. 

Gene L (not verified) says...

Being an ENFP is both a blessing and a curse. Most of the time, I wouldn't be anything else, for it can be a really "fun" temperament type. I often know what someone is going to say next well before they even begin to speak. I can fill in the awkward, quiet times at social gatherings effortlessly, though I take little pleasure in small talk, and much prefer emotional intimacy and depth. And I can usually get people to relax and open up to me, though I don't do this for devious ends. But there are times when I think this temperament type extracts more than its pound of flesh, particularly in the grownup world of business, where many jobs are repetitious, heavily structured and with a fixed routine. Also, feeling like one is on the outside looking in can be hard to deal with at times. And what ENFP hasn't been lonely in a crowd, almost as though one were outside oneself, watching from afar?

The tips Ward offers for dealing with stressed ENFPs are right on the money, I think. When I'm mildly to moderately stressed, I'm not always aware of it until later, and I'm certainly not aware of what I need for myself and from others at the time. But when I'm relaxed, as now, I can see that her suggestions for what ENFPs need in order to manage stress are just what I need to get my footing again. I'll simply add that we ENFPs tend to be hypercritical of ourselves, so it's not necessary for others to be too critical. We know when we're in the wrong, though we can and often do come up with excuses that can appease others. Doing so ultimately causes an ENFP to feel like a fraud, though, and this is a temperament type that demands one be true to oneself. 


Dawn Steveson (not verified) says...

Yes! Me to a "T"!

The only thing I would counter in her article is that if someone suggests that I take a break in the middle of a stressful moment, I'm going to blow up on them! I will not leave a situation that's out of control until it is back under control. So the best way to help me is to show me I can count on you and try to anticipate what needs done.

Because I can anticipate what someone else needs, I get very frustrate when others can't do this for me! It comes so naturally to me, I can figure out why it isn't easy for everyone! I have to pause to remember that it is a blessing of my personality type. 

Helen (not verified) says...

Well put! I can relate to your comments too. I hadn't considered the 'outside looking in' factor, but that's so me too. 

Lc (not verified) says...

spot on Gene!! This response could have been written by me...

its great to know there are like minded/spirited people ?

Leah M.C. (not verified) says...

I find this text quite accurate, but I also wanted to mention that after I lash out under pressure, I often feel guilty afterwards for doing so and that often causes me to panic even more. I've started taking occasional walks with a friend (whom also suffers from an anxiety disorder) and that really does help me calm down a lot. Spending time with cute animals also relieves stress. 
Well done to the author :)

Ana Cristina Kolb (not verified) says...

So GREAT! usually people think I am a "endless source of energy" because I am eletrical.With age and maturity, I have learned a lot about relaxing, taking time for myself  and taking time simply OFF.   

To read this text, has helped me to feel, understood, what usually is not really the case! So thanks a lot for this article! :) Namasté!


amit samant (not verified) says...

Thank you very much DEBORAH.... I have been facing too much stress last few years. I consulted to psychologists. when one of them take my personality test. I have come to know that I  am ENFP (best matches INFJ) now I can handle my immotions better. thanks again.

James Tyree II (not verified) says...

 I unified with the details of this article hundred percent and it's very frustrating but I see now that it is important to have quiet time and to do more exercising. INFJ for a match, huh? I am looking for a. Are so I shall learn about INFJ. Thanks!

Share your thoughts