The holiday season can produce wonderful memories and joyful shared experiences that bring families and friends together - but it can also be overwhelming. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, you’ll be saturated in an atmosphere where demands are high and expectations even higher. If you’re not managing your stress levels, you could end up feeling harried and hemmed in instead of calm and celebratory. 

Ideally, your holiday survival strategies should be customized to meet your personal psychological and emotional needs. That’s why we’re offering a list of Enneagram-specific sanity hacks that will help you stay cool during this most wonderful time of the year! 

Enneagram Type 1: Resist the temptation to do it all yourself

As an Enneagram One Perfectionist you’re a master planner who knows how to create order where otherwise there might be chaos. This is a handy skill to have during the holiday season, when large family dinners, parties, celebrations, vacations and outings are the norm. Type Ones think of all the details and make sure they are all attended to, which is why other family members will look to you first to manage these complicated affairs.

But there can be a lot of stress involved with planning events of this nature, not to mention a lot of work. The effort can leave you feeling overwhelmed and frazzled to the breaking point.

This is why you should surrender some of your control and recruit one or two assistants to help you plan holiday get-togethers. Delegating authority may go against your nature, but you should do it anyway to make sure the responsibility doesn’t wear you out.

Enneagram Type 2: Prioritize your alone time

When the holidays arrive and the spirit of giving is at its strongest, the instincts of the typical Enneagram Two Giver (presumably that’s you) will shift into overdrive. You’ll be ready to devote all of your attention to your loved ones, with no thought of taking any time off for yourself.

To make sure your needs aren’t buried and forgotten, you should try to spend at least 20-30 percent of your holiday time alone, or in silent and peaceful spaces where social interaction is minimal. Even when you choose to attend family events, you should limit your social exposures by stepping out for a while to take a bracing and refreshing wintertime walk, attend church services, watch a favorite holiday movie, or attend a special holiday presentation.

You can take someone close with you if you’d like. But make sure they understand what you’re doing and why.

Enneagram Type 3: Put your competitive streak on hiatus

Too often Enneagram Three Achievers try to outdo themselves during the holidays. They want this year’s Christmas or New Year’s celebration to be better than last years, which has likely been their goal for at least the last 10 years.

If this describes you during the holidays, you should rethink this approach. Competing with yourself in this way will leave you feeling tense, anxious, and insecure.

Instead of indulging your inclinations to do more, you should make it a point to do less than you ever have on any holiday before. Ease up a bit, slack off and relax, and fill up your time with activities that you find fun and diverting. Make it a point of pride that you’ve taken on a little less responsibility this time, trusting that your loved ones will do just fine without your intervention.

Enneagram Type 4: Be thankful, and express it

If you’re the typical Enneagram Four Individualist, you may tend to become nostalgic and wistful during the holiday season. You may dwell on what you’ve lost or what you fear you’ve never had. Your mood may not be completely downbeat, but nevertheless you may find yourself haunted by your own ghosts of Christmases past.

This year, instead of wallowing in regret you should focus on being thankful. You should reflect on how much you appreciate your loved ones, and then seek them out and let them know how much they’ve meant to you and how grateful you are for the positive impact they’ve had in your life.

Most people hope to have the chance to exchange messages of thankfulness with their loved ones over the holidays. Consequently, if you engage the people you care about in this type of conversation it can strengthen your relationships considerably. And rest assured your attitude about the holidays will shift dramatically once you’ve helped co-create a few of these heartwarming encounters.

Enneagram Type 5: Don’t say ‘yes’ to everything

As an Enneagram Five Investigator, you prize the time you have to observe, reflect and analyze the events happening around you. Unfortunately, the holidays don’t necessarily cater to this preference. Opportunities for socializing will abound and you’ll be expected to partake, at celebrations and parties that you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy and might not really want to attend.

While you shouldn’t turn into a recluse, you shouldn’t feel obligated to go to every family event. You should pick and choose your holiday exposures, and don’t be afraid to leave early if you feel overstressed or uncomfortable by the overly jovial, familiar, or social mood.

An occasional polite “no thank you, I can’t make it this year” won’t turn you into an outcast or make you an ingrate. It will only mean you’re being honest about what you can handle and how you’d like your holiday season to unfold.

Enneagram Type 6: See and advise your loved ones one at a time

Enneagram Six Skeptics like yourself don’t always see the glass as half-empty; that is a misconception. What you’re actually worried about is that a full glass will get knocked over and will spill all over the floor, leaving you or someone you love with a big mess they will have to clean up.

Your habit of worrying and imagining dark scenarios can leave you seriously overstimulated during the holidays, too filled with anxiety to enjoy yourself or the moment. That’s why you could benefit by arranging Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s events that are more intimate, involving meet-ups between you and one or two of your family members at a time.

Breaking your holiday socializing into smaller bites will help you manage your emotions and insecurities more effectively. You can get detailed updates about how your loved ones have been and what challenges they’ve been facing, and then offer them sound advice that will help them deal with any issues they might be having.

Enneagram Type 7: Slow down and listen to those who really need to talk

As an Enneagram Seven Enthusiast the holiday season is tailor-made for you. There will be lots of happy and lively events to attend or host, and you’ll be delighted to share your feelings of enthusiasm and happiness with others who love the holidays as much as you do.

For the Enthusiast this can all be a bit too much, however, which is why you need to develop a strategy that will help you control your emotions and prevent overexcitement. A terrific way to shift into a calmer mode is to use the occasion to work on your active listening skills, which is a useful exercise of personal empowerment for most Enneagram Sevens.

What this means is that you should actively engage your loved ones in serious conversations, listening very carefully and responding thoughtfully and helpfully to what they are saying. During these more controlled interactions you’ll be assuming the role of trusted advisor, offering the type of encouragement and optimistic advice that is your specialty.

Enneagram Type 8: It’s the holidays, so let it go

Enneagram Eight Challengers have a direct approach that may be constructive in many contexts but doesn’t always fit comfortably with what holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas are supposed to be all about.

Your Challenger side can get the best of you during holiday celebrations. It can cause you to see disrespect, dismissal or other hidden agendas, where they don’t exist, in the words or behavior of friends or family members you don’t see all that often and don’t know so well. This can make the holiday season quite stressful for you, and possibly even lead to verbal conflicts.

If you feel disrespected by someone you encounter during the holidays, you can reject defensiveness and take a more conciliatory approach. You can simply say to yourself, “it’s the holidays, let it go.” Doing this each time you feel tension rising will help you keep your emotions under control and prevent you from saying something you’ll later regret.

Enneagram Type 9: Think more about peace on Earth than peace in the family

It isn’t hard to see how an Enneagram Nine Peacemaker like yourself can become overburdened by anxiety during the holidays.  In your self-appointed role as the family mediator or diplomat, you’ll feel a powerful urge to intervene whenever you spot a possible conflict about to break out, as they often do at large and raucous parties or celebrations.

Needless to say, this can leave you feeling exhausted and anxious. That’s why you’d be smart to redirect your peacemaking energies this holiday season, from your family out into the world at large.

You can do this by volunteering to help out at a local homeless shelter, animal rescue facility, community- or church-sponsored event, or anywhere else you can spread peace, hopefulness, and good cheer. By doing this during the holidays you’ll be able to distance yourself from your family’s stress-inducing issues to at least some extent, while still helping to facilitate the healing of humanity and the planet.

Nathan Falde
Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.