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    Aug 28, 2015    |

From Stressed out to Resilient: Three Steps to Help Students Navigate Stress for Success

teacher-coach-mentoring-student-employee Are you a career counsellor, teacher or student leader? One of our talented type consultants, Donna Dunning has written a great article about using Type to help students navigate stress more effectively. I wanted to take this opportunity to share her insights with our valued blog readers.

Original Piece by Donna Dunning:

People can thrive under an optimal level of stress. However, too much stress can trigger a wide range of psychological and physical problems. Everyone wants to minimize, manage, recover quickly from, and hopefully learn to avoid overly stressful situations. You can help your students by teaching them how to build resilience against stress using these three steps:
1. Identify the signs of stress.
2. Identify your stressors.
3. Take actions to reduce your stress level.

Although this may sound easy in principle, in reality everyone reacts to and deals with stress differently. Personality type theory provides a useful framework for helping your students understand their stress responses. When people are engaged in work that allows them to use their natural preferences, they are often highly motivated and satisfied. When the work environment requires people to operate outside their preferences, they can become tired and overwhelmed, and experience excess stress.

Typically, when experiencing stress, people initially respond by overusing their core personality type preference. Then, if the stress is prolonged or increased, they may “flip” into a nonpreferred mode of behaving. This experience is usually unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and disorienting.

The information below shows you how to help your students assess their stress levels, identify their stressors, and build resilience to stress. When students understand their stress response they can learn to note the first signs of stress, implement changes to build resilience, and avoid the unpleasant experience of stress taking over.

Responders (personality types ESTP and ESFP) woman-employee-working-stressed

First signs of stress:
• Becoming highly distractible and responsive in the moment
• Feeling disorganized and unable to choose priorities
• Finding it hard to evaluate data or situations

When stress takes over:
• Becoming overwhelmed by negative possibilities
• Losing connection to the moment
• Misinterpreting or attaching too much meaning to events

Common stressors:
• Imposed long-term planning
• Rigid routines or inflexible deadlines
• Unclear expectations or vague directions

Coach Responders to deal with stress by helping them:
• Set priorities
• Focus on specific and immediate tasks and goals
• Choose and achieve tangible results
• Find freedom, variety, flexibility, and interaction in their work

Explorers (personality types ENTP and ENFP)


First signs of stress:
• Bouncing rapidly between many seemingly unrelated ideas
• Losing ability to screen or evaluate thoughts and ideas
• Becoming overwhelmed by options or possibilities

When stress takes over:
• Withdrawing and losing enthusiasm
• Obsessing on isolated or even unrelated details
• Having exaggerated concerns about health or well-being

Common stressors:
• Excessive structure, rules, or ways of doing things
• Dealing with routines or details
• External pressure to reach closure quickly

Coach Explorers to deal with stress by helping them:
• Share and discuss their situation without judgment
• Pay attention to their body: get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise
• Limit the number of projects they start
• Set priorities and delegate tasks

Contributors (personality types ESFJ and ENFJ)


First signs of stress:

• Attempting to force harmony without checking whether people are interested
• Trying to champion everyone and solve all problems
• Becoming overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities to help others

When stress takes over:
• Making sweeping and excessive criticisms of self and others
• Engaging in all-or-none, rigid, logical thinking
• Seeking the ultimate “truth”

Common stressors:
• Being forced to conform to unacceptable views
• Discordant relationships or pressure to act impersonally
• Time pressures that interfere with working cooperatively

Coach Contributors to deal with stress by helping them:
• Arrange time alone to think the situation through
• Reconnect with what is important
• Link with supportive people who are not involved in the negative situation
• Engage in self-care activities

Expeditors (personality types ESTJ and ENTJ)


First signs of stress:
• Making categorical, negative judgments with little backup data
• Moving quickly from task to task without achieving effective results
• Becoming dictatorial and demanding

When stress takes over:
• Becoming overly sensitive to inner emotions
• Having outbursts of emotion
• Attempting to control strong feelings; fear appearing emotional or incompetent

Common stressors:
• Lack of control
• Disorganization, lack of logic, or incompetence
• Illogical procedures, behavior, or criteria

Coach Expeditors to deal with stress by helping them:
• Share their experiences and feelings
• Find calming support from someone they trust
• Take time alone to regain focus and control
• Engage in physical activity

Assimilators (personality types ISTJ and ISFJ)


First signs of stress:
• Focusing single-mindedly and intensely on detail after detail
• Needing to know more facts than usual before initiating action
• A lack of judgment regarding the relevance of information

When stress takes over:
• Having difficulty organizing facts and managing details
• Taking impulsive actions
• Engaging in catastrophic thinking—imagining worst possible scenarios

Common stressors:
• Sudden change, ineffective or unclear procedures
• Being asked to perform without adequate time to prepare
• Vague instructions, standards, goals, or priorities

Coach Assimilators to deal with stress by helping them:
• Think through the implications and consequences of their situation
• Validate their competence and worth
• Arrange to spend time alone in a comfortable setting
• Set priorities and complete immediate tasks

Visionaries (personality types INTJ and INFJ)

First signs of stress:
• Ideas becoming increasingly ungrounded
• Having difficulty discriminating between ideas
• Anticipating the worst

When stress takes over:
• Focusing obsessively on controlling and managing facts and details
• Overindulging in eating, drinking, or other sensory activities
• Becoming highly critical or adversarial

Common stressors:
• Noise, distractions, disorganization, and having to extravert too much
• Poor performance by coworkers that affects results or violates standards
• Dealing with details and realities

Coach Visionaries to deal with stress by helping them:
• Schedule time off from roles and responsibilities
• Spend time alone engaging in recreation, hobbies, or exercise
• Find their own solutions without offering advice
• Analyze or find meaning in the situation

Analyzers (personality types ISTP and INTP)


First signs of stress:
• Becoming increasingly critical
• Making cutting, sarcastic judgments with little data to support them
• Losing their sharply honed focus

When stress takes over:
• Passionately defending themselves and their perceptions
• Becoming overly sensitive; may read negative intentions into innocuous interactions
• Responding to and expressing strong emotions

Common stressors:
• Strict rules, regulations, or supervision
• Being confronted with strong emotions, especially personal criticisms
• Illogical procedures or incompetent people

Coach Analyzers to deal with stress by helping them:
• Recognize and confirm the stressful nature of the situation
• Move out of situations before they become overly stressful
• Focus on realities or ideas to help them see the situation more clearly
• Take time alone to lower the intensity of their experience

Enhancers (personality types ISFP and INFP)


First signs of stress:
• Becoming overly sensitive to feedback
• Reacting more personally to what others say and do
• Feeling the weight of others’ needs and demands

When stress takes over:
• Beginning to judge themselves and others as incompetent
• Harshly criticizing themselves and others
• Taking hasty action in attempt to control the situation

Common stressors:
• Conforming to unacceptable values or procedures
• Interacting with people who are overly impersonal, critical, or demanding
• Rigid structures, routines, or deadlines

Coach Enhancers to deal with stress by helping them:
• Move outside of the stressful situation to regroup
• Engage in pleasant self-care activities
• Renew and refocus on personal needs and values
• Share their experiences with caring people they trust

This material has been adapted from In the Grip by Naomi Quenk.

Working with students to build resiliency against stress? Check out the MBTI® Stress Management Report —it’s the perfect tool for helping students manage stress to realize success. Use it with In the Grip and provide individuals and groups with a thorough tool set for understanding type and stress and learning how to build resilience.

Visit Donna Dunning’s website at:

Filed under: Type Talk