INFJ overwhelm is a real thing. It affects similar personality types as well, and may also include highly sensitive individuals. I understand that most people experience overwhelm at one time or another in their lives, but some of us experience it so often, it feels like a part of daily life.
Chronic stress and worry can also come into play for us. We like to have things done a certain way and we like to know what to expect.
Planning is a natural tool we use to make sure we’re not blindsided. It’s how we try to control our environment. When we don’t, we get stressed out, which can lead to feelings of anxiety or overwhelm.
Feeling overwhelmed is part of being human, but in this day and age, it’s more of an epidemic. We’re attached to the outside world more than ever before, through technology, so our introversion is bombarded daily. This causes an almost constant level of background stress for us.
Coping Under Extreme Stress
All personality types lean on their Inferior Process when they’re under extreme stress, and for the INFJ, this inferior process is called Extroverted Sensing. It’s our most underdeveloped function. Extraverted Sensing is the process of becoming hyper aware of what’s in the physical world in abundant detail. It will involve your five senses.
The Sensing process is opposite our Intuition, so it is an uncomfortable and unfamiliar place for us to be, since it’s more tangible, factual, and specific. Then, why would we go there? Probably because we have exhausted our Dominant (intuition) and Auxiliary (feeling) processes, so we go to our inferior function.
It’s not so much a choice as it is an unconscious reaction.
This will feel out of character for us, and may focus on self-destructive behavior involving our senses, like overindulging in food or TV, drinking, loud angry music, aggressive exercising, screaming, etc. It could also manifest as obsessing over minor details – trimming hedges, cleaning the house top to bottom. My house never gets cleaner than when I’m in a foul mood.
Most people’s inferior process is a bit childish, especially for the first half of your life, but it is something that can be developed over time, as we hit middle-age, learning from our past and starting to get a better handle on ourselves.
INFJ Overwhelm & Anxiety
I have a lot to do, but when I’m being pulled in too many different directions, it becomes difficult to keep my life, tasks, and mind organized. Being an INFJ inhibits my ability to be casual or nonchalant when it comes to certain things, as my expectations of myself are quite high.
To most Judging personality types, including the INFJ, chaos is not something to thrive in, but something to avoid. This is not always possible, but in the true spirit of my personality type, I try to organize it. When this doesn’t work, and it becomes too much to contain, I feel overwhelmed. This is when things go south, if I don’t intervene quickly.
My mood will shift, anxiety sets in, and I can become turbulent, at best.
Stemming from my introverted side, the other half of my overwhelm usually comes from situations where I feel intensely uncomfortable. It can be anything from being asked to socialize with unfamiliar people, being in a large crowd, or something as simple as having to pick up the phone.
I am slowly learning how to cope with this type of stress and overwhelm. The hardest part is putting on the brakes before I panic, but if I do end up stressed, I remember that there are things I can do to calm myself down.
Stress, anxiety, and INFJ overwhelm are all temporary, which helps me to know that everything will, eventually, be okay.
How We Deal with Acute Stress
Walking away from whatever is overwhelming you and, instead, focusing on something that is fun, relaxing, or therapeutic is the first rule of combatting stress. Self-talk helps me in acute situations. Also, consider ditching the caffeine…it just adds to anxiety, stress, and disrupts your sleep (sleep is sacred), and it’s counter intuitive to a relaxed state of mind.
Here are some healthy self-care ideas I do when I feel INFJ overwhelm take over, or I start to feel really stressed out.
- Walk away for awhile.
- A 10 minute meditation does wonders.
- Talk to my husband or close friend.
- Do 10-15 minutes of yoga stretches.
- Turn on some soothing music helps a lot.
- I turn my focus to reading or a loved hobby.
- Exercising vigorously for anxiety or stretching for relaxation.
- Practice my deep breathing (may include meditation).
- Schedule a massage (long or short, based on how I’m feeling).
- Write just for fun – no rules (poems, journal).
- Take a long hot bath or shower to relax and ease muscles.
- Watch something funny or uplifting changes my mood.
- Spend a little extra time with my family or friends.
- Hike or go for a long walk to clear my mind.
- For a longer break, a day trip might be in order.
- Looking through some old photos makes me feel at ease.
- Snuggle up to my introverted cat, which feels good.
- Sometimes take a deep breath and count it out.
I hate to state the obvious, but life is going to happen, and again, the stress, anxiety, or overwhelm is temporary….optional, even. We can work and have a home life, and do it in a way that makes sense for us, and is intentional.
The goal here is to focus on our priorities while still supporting ourselves. I find that as I get older, my priorities tend to shift towards self-care, family time, and new goals to reach anyway, so I am trying to go with that flow.
What about you? How to prevent stress or handle INFJ overwhelm or anxiety when you’re “in the grip” and dealing with the “have-to’s” of life?
I’m not a health, nutrition, fitness, or medical professional. Please research and talk with your physician before making any changes to your lifestyle or health regimen.
Very good article. I love your gift for explaining things in an easy to understand way.
Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time comment.
Rachel – trying to leave a message for you re my similar condition – but it says my comment is too long? How can I tell my story? Please advise.
Hi Sandra. I’m not sure how to change the character limit on the comments. This issue has never come up before, but you’re more than welcome to continue your your story in additional comments, while I’m looking into it. I would love to hear about your how you experience overwhelm or stress as a fellow feeler.
The problem has been resolved. Thank you for letting me know about the issue!
Thank you EVER so much for making the effort to articulate your insights!
They have fed me when I was hungry and searching for food.
Thank you for being who you are :).
Thank you for the very kind comment, and thank you for being who YOU are. 😉
I’m a lady in my 60’s & despite being in therapy with a psychologist for almost 40yrs l never understood my weird personality. I am a INFJ.
Thank you for insight. I’m so glad l’m not alone in this!8am
Hi Mary! I’m so glad I’m not alone, too. 🙂 Thank you for visiting my site. I hope to see you again!
Probably a dumb question, but what is INFJ? I am assuming it is a personality type?
Hi Jennifer. I’m so sorry. Apparently, my link for that may have accidentally been removed during a previous edit, so I re-added it. You are correct. An INFJ is a personalty type based on the MBTI. You can learn more about being an INFJ on this post: http://steepedinnotions.com/infj-introvert-overwhelmed-stress-anxiety/ I hope that answers your question. Thank you for visiting.
Hi, I’m an INFJ too, and this post is very informative, thank you. Also thank you for taking time to record them. I think your are doing a historical work, for fellow INFJs who need a lot of information to deal with their weird personality.
Hi! Welcome to the blog, and thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.
I recently came into the know that I had a INFJ personality. This has been super helpful and accurate. Thank you so much.
You’re welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful, and welcome to the club! 🙂