The Best Stress-Management Tool, Based On Your Enneagram Type
The Enneagram personality model can reveal a lot about our tendencies, patterns, and blocks. Steph Barron Hall, author of The Enneagram in Love, specializes in teaching the Enneagram to teams who work in high-stakes environments, like hospitals and mental health clinics. We reached out to get her take on how each type tends to handle stressful situations and how they can find a stress-management tool that's tailored to their unique needs.
"Ones are motivated by a need to be good, right, and perfect," says Hall. This type prizes morality and ethics, and they tend to be idealistic about the future and making the world a better place.
When they're stressed, Hall explains that they hold on to their views on what's right and wrong even tighter. They also have a tendency to judge themselves based on this narrative and are self-critical when they feel they're not doing things perfectly. "They feel like they can't do anything well," adds Hall.
De-stress with: A journal.
Getting thoughts onto the page is one way that this type can release control and self-judgment. Take a cue from the morning pages writing style Julia Cameron shares in her book The Artist's Way, and begin each day by handwriting three pages. You don't need to respond to any prompts or questions; simply free-write and see where your mind leads you. Especially on days when stress creeps in, this type of writing can help you externalize your needs and get honest about how you can contribute to your community without burning out.
"Twos are motivated by the need to be needed," says Hall. "They want to be loved, and they believe that they are most loved when they're helping others." Unsurprisingly, this type tends to put a lot of energy into relationship building and making sure that those around them feel safe and comfortable.
"When they're stressed, twos often work even harder to make themselves indispensable," Hall explains.
De-stress with: A mirror meditation.
It's important for twos to reconnect with themselves and their needs when the going gets tough. This mirror meditation for self-compassion can help them do so.
According to Hall, threes are always thinking about how they show up in the world. "They are concerned with success to an extent, but they're also concerned with image and appearance," she says.
"When threes are stressed, they often busy themselves by starting new projects, or they swing to the opposite extreme and become listless and unmotivated."
De-stress with: Plenty of rest and relaxation.
This type can benefit from back-to-basic stress management tools like plenty of rest, healthy food, and a relaxing supplement. (They might want to check out mbg's hemp multi+, which gets its mood-supporting benefits from full-spectrum hemp oil.*) Slow is really the name of the game for this type, and they should take stress as a sign that it's time to take it easy.
Fours are the seekers of the Enneagram, and they aren't afraid to ask big questions about life, purpose, and identity. "They're really imaginative, and they really go deep in thinking about their feelings," says Hall.
"When they're stressed, they give into that daydreaming and rely on others to meet their practical needs. They stop caring for themselves and almost play the victim or feel like victims," she adds.
De-stress with: Unstructured creative time.
Hall urges stressed-out fours to make time for their preferred method of creativity. Reserve an hour to draw, paint, write, or express yourself and emerge feeling refueled and reinspired.
"Fives are motivated by a need to be competent and self-reliant," says Hall. They tend to minimize their needs and shy away from asking others for help. They'd rather work themselves ragged to find solutions themselves.
"When they're stressed, fives often further isolate themselves so they can think through everything and process further," she says. "They tend to rely solely on logic and ignore their own feelings of fear or anxiety."
De-stress with: Yin yoga.
This type can benefit from getting out of their heads and settling into their bodies during stressful times. Yin yoga is a relaxing practice for quieting the mind, and this 10-minute yin flow is geared toward working through anxiousness.
"Sixes are motivated by a need to find safety and security in the world," says Hall. "They're very loyal and they really like to think through every possible eventuality of every situation. They plan through everything that could happen so they feel really safe and secure."
When stressful situations come up that are out of this type's control, it sends them even further into planning mode: "They double down on making those plans to calm themselves and they feel extra responsible for every minute detail of everything around them."
De-stress with: Gratitude.
This type can benefit from staying in the present instead of exhausting themselves thinking about the future. When stress comes up, they should try to come back to gratitude: Think about three things you feel grateful for in that moment, calling on all five senses for help. Maybe you're thankful for the cool air on your skin, the smell of fresh laundry, or the sight of a loved one cooking dinner.
"Sevens are motivated by a need to avoid pain or discomfort, especially emotional pain," says Hall. "They really stay busy and seek fun wherever they go. They see the world as full of opportunity."
Idealist type sevens often try to avoid stress and negativity at all costs, to the point that they run the risk of becoming disconnected from reality.
De-stress with: Breathwork.
Sevens could use a little help feeling their feelings, the good and the bad. Breathwork is a simple practice that's deceptively effective at digging up emotions for processing. Here's an introduction to how breathwork works and a few breathing techniques sevens can start with.
"Eights are motivated by a need to protect themselves and avoid vulnerability," says Hall. "They really go through life with their walls up."
When eights are stressed, these boundaries can become even stronger. In order to avoid being controlled by others, they tend to withdraw and disengage.
De-stress with: A good friend.
While the impulse might be to work through stress alone, eights might find more value in de-stressing with other people. Invite a loved one or trusted friend out to a walk, hike, or meal and have an honest conversation about what's coming up for you. See if any freedom comes from letting down your guard a bit.
Nines are all about keeping the peace, to the point of disowning their own thoughts, feelings, or desires.
When they're stressed, nines tend to minimize what's going on and keep looking on the bright side instead. This tendency to always stay positive can make this type seem like they're "kind of floating through life," says Hall.
De-stress with: Nature time.
Instead of continuing to tune things out, this type could benefit from grounding in the present. Get outside and feel your feet in the grass (bonus points if you're barefoot).
Emma Loewe is the Sustainability and Health Director at mindbodygreen and the author of Return to Nature: The New Science of How Natural Landscapes Restore Us. She is also the co-author of The Spirit Almanac: A Modern Guide To Ancient Self Care, which she wrote alongside Lindsay Kellner.
Emma received her B.A. in Environmental Science & Policy with a specialty in environmental communications from Duke University. In addition to penning over 1,000 mbg articles on topics from the water crisis in California to the rise of urban beekeeping, her work has appeared on Grist, Bloomberg News, Bustle, and Forbes. She's spoken about the intersection of self-care and sustainability on podcasts and live events alongside environmental thought leaders like Marci Zaroff, Gay Browne, and Summer Rayne Oakes.