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. 

Jana B (not verified) says...

Yes Dawn!

Anticipating needs... I have said these exact words in arguments many times. I have thought that I was somehow dysfunctional for thinking this but your post helps me to see that it’s actually my response to my type. And I love my type! ENFPs are so in tune with other’s experience (makes us so darn magnetic) that we can feel super annoyed when others don’t reciprocate our energy.

So what to do?? It’s the expectation of reciprocation that seems disappoint me. I think I’m going to pause and say a little ‘prayer’ of thanks to my type and gifts when I’m feeling my needs are being neglected and unanticipated. “I’m so proud of my gift to be able to read people and connect to them. I have amazing powers!” Then I’m going to tell myself that just because I’m amazingly gifted to know other people’s needs and feelings I DONT HAVE TO MEET THEIR NEEDS. Ever. They are responsible for meeting their needs. I then release myself from the expectation I carry that others need to know what I need, too. I’m released from being pissed at them for not ‘getting it.’ And if they happen to understand and offer me my level of reliability and deep understanding I can then truly enjoy it as it comes to me.

I feel like this is a way of maintaining my energy and power, like not sloshing the soup bowl as I walk to the table, in a manner of speaking. All my soup remains in the bowl. No messy hard feelings to clean up.

Thanks again for the inspired post!

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!

Cathleen (not verified) says...

I am getting stressed just reading the comments- I feel like I am not being my usual creative and peppy self. I have been sick recently and boy do I get grouchy and critical when I am down and that makes me even more upset. My husband is an ESTP, he loves me but he is losing patience with me and me with him after 20 years! Feeling very misunderstood, but this helps!  I have a hard time letting things go if I feel people haven't acted properly at church or in business. 

RR (not verified) says...

I am grateful I came across this when searching for how ENFPs deal with stress.  I have been under immense stress the past four years, when I married a man who is ISFJ personality type. We did not know each other well as we lived in different states and had met at a conference. I am in my 40s, and the first two years together were by far the most stressful years of my life.  I felt like I didn’t even know if I was going to survive it. I have a child who I needed to put first. I don’t drink, and when I got to the point after two years where I was like I guess I’m just gonna have to be drunk every day to live this life with this person because all else has failed to be effective, I decided we had to move into separate places.

 I felt like I was giving everything to this relationship, because he moved in and then decided immediately that he was not going to get a job in his field, like he told me, and he was just going to start his own business.  And proceeded to do nothing for first six months because he had access to his retirement savings and spent that like crazy. So on top of what  Felt like an arranged marriage, which is already very stressful figuring out how to live together with two different personality types, he decides to throw on top of that starting a business. But then didn’t take action, which drives ENFP nuts.   I  did the typical ENFP thing to just work harder and do more on my own to provide stability for the family, getting promoted twice at my company.  The second time I promoted myself into a position that is really suited for an ISTJ just for the money. And I am still in that position two years later. So work causes me a lot of anxiety, and home life causes me a lot of anxiety as my husband says he doesn’t believe in having savings. So we had to get a legal divorce to protect my son’s and my future, though we are still together  and love each other, and he is a very sweet stepfather and will take care of all kinds of little details around the house. (I bought us a house after the legal divorce) But I find I spend so much time being concerned how I am going to take care of him in his old age, since he is 16 years older than me. And he has no retirement savings now. And like someone else said, ENFPs just constantly wonder why the other person can’t look after them or care about what stresses them out or be supportive the way you do for them?

So this was very helpful as we are about to try therapy again and I have lashed out at him several times out of frustration that he just doesn’t seem to get  how the only one thing I ask of him is to help provide some financial stability, even just put $75/month in savings, anything and he just hasn’t been willing to do this small thing in my mind, given all the sacrificing I have been willing to do for him to be able to do a business he finds fun and enjoyable. I am stressed every day at work because I am trying to save for two retirements now and support my son. ENFP jobs typically don’t pay well, as they tend to be in the helping profession as I used to work in before having a child, and loved my job. Because I’m too responsible, I will stay in the I STJ job until my son is grown at least. I am not capable of doing what my husband did without making sure the family was financially stable. I just would never do that and put others through that stress, and now I see here finally that I have to let go of feeling so hurt about this. Maybe other people just really are not capable of really knowing how their actions affect others even if they are repeatedly told? 

At any rate, I am going to study this and learn. I agree with the person who said don’t ask me to take a break when I am in the middle of trying to solve a crises. I won’t want to stop until it is resolved.

DeepThought (not verified) says...

A Type of Meditation:

Clear your mind from all voices. Thought without thought. Focus on breathing and your sharp emotional focus.  Reach deep inside and expand your inner core energy. Open your eyes, soak in your present surroundings and feel with your heart.... not your mind. Remember to train to CLEAR YOUR MIND completely..... our ENFP type, If I'm right, can unlock say.... a power up from this type of mindset.


Shiloh Ruthie (not verified) says...

Wow, this is my life in a shell.

I only started working for less than 3 months and then I got overwhelmed by my own thoughts. So, I resigned. I knew the problem was about me and how I deal with my responsibilities as an HR in-charge. 

Thank you so much for this. I need to focus on this matter seriously.

Nupur Chakraborty (not verified) says...

Wow, this is eerie! Fits me like a glove, and really reassures me that my personality weaknessess -- the overdoing, oversensitivity, overthinking, trapped/ lashing out, etc -- are all reversible if I remain strongly self-aware at all times. Thank you for such wonderful clarity! Having said all that, I still love being ENFP -- would have it no other way! Cheers, fellow ENFPs! 

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