12 Stress-Busting Techniques for INTJs

INTJs are the intellectual, quick-thinking masterminds of the Myers-Briggs® world. Known for their love of logic and their intense foresight, INTJs live with a constant thirst for knowledge and discovery. If you look at many of our greatest inventors and physicists, you will find a host of INTJs; people like Isaac Newton, Nikola Tesla, and Stephen Hawking.

Today I want to focus on how INTJs can combat stress in their lives and address the types of stress they experience. Everyone experiences two different types of stress; regular, every day stress, and “grip” stress that causes someone to slip into the realm of their inferior function.

Stress Relief INTJ

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Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

INTJs and Everyday Stress

Under normal everyday stress, the INTJ will try to solve the stress or problem by using either their dominant or auxiliary function. This will cause the INTJ to become more “INTJ-like”. They will try to get more time alone to process a strategy or realize a pathway out of the stress using Introverted Intuition. They may apply hard logic to the problem and try to solve it that way. They may become more reclusive, obsessed with finding the logical answer, more “stuck in their heads”. If they can solve the problem at hand using Intuition or Thinking than they may be able to minimize their stress; however, if the stress continues, or if they find no way to solve it, they may overuse their dominant and auxiliary functions and fall into the grip of their inferior function; Extraverted Sensing.

INTJs and “Grip” Stress

Grip stress
When the INTJ is under frequent, chronic stress and can find no way to make it go away by using their Intuition or Thinking, they may have a “grip” reaction. They can also have a grip reaction if their inferior function, Extraverted Sensing, is triggered too frequently. While the inferior function is important to use, it is not the preferred comfort zone of the INTJ.  Having to focus too heavily on the sensory world, or being exposed to too much sensory stimulation can cause the INTJ to have a grip stress reaction. Other things that can cause a grip reaction include: not getting enough alone time, being exposed to excess noise, confusion, or having a lack of direction.

How INTJs Act and Feel When They are “In the Grip” of Extraverted Sensing

When INTJs are having a grip reaction, they will seem very unlike their normal selves. Their Extraverted Sensing will take over, and they will appear to be more like unhealthy ESFPs than INTJs. This is extremely confusing for them and the people around them. They will feel lost and out of control, unable to access their normal intuitive or thinking abilities. Normally big-picture thinkers with a good sense of direction, the INTJ will suddenly lose their focus and ability to see from their normal global perspective. They may make more factual mistakes and errors. They may become more impulsive and focused on instant gratification. They may struggle with over-eating, over-exercising, obsessive cleaning, heavy drinking, or buying lots of useless items. They give into their sensory function in an unhealthy way, trying to find some kind of indulgence that will make their stress dissipate.

Keep in mind, an INTJ experiencing a “grip” reaction is not at all like a normal, healthy INTJ. Normally INTJs are very controlled, strategic, focused and insightful. If you’re around an INTJ who is experiencing a grip reaction, try to be as patient as possible with them and try to be understanding of their behavior and give them some space to wind down and find balance. This is a very confusing and distressing experience for them, and judging them will not help to fix it.

A Re-Cap Of What Causes An INTJ Stress:

– Being in an environment that doesn’t appreciate their skills or vision
– Not enough time alone. Too much socializing.
– Too much noise or sensory input.
– Working with those they see as lazy, ignorant, or incompetent
– Having to focus on too many details at once
– Being in unfamiliar environments
– Having their plans disrupted
– Having to focus entirely on the here-and-now
– Not being able to envision the future or see a clear direction in their lives

12 Ways INTJs Can Get Relief From Stress

1 – Get Some Alone Time

Woman staring at ocean
INTJs rely very strongly on their Introverted Intuition to be in a healthy state. In order to adequately access Ni (Introverted Intuition), the INTJ needs some solitary time to process their thoughts without distractions or interruptions. This can help the INTJ to effectively access their dominant function, reduce their focus on sensing, and find balance again.

2 – Reduce Sensory Stimulation

Because grip reactions in INTJs are often triggered by sensory details and stimulation, diminishing these things will really help. Many INTJs like to lay in bed with the lights off, go to a dark room and shut the door, or close their eyes and take deep breaths. Getting away from sensory interruptions and stimuli can really help the INTJ to find equilibrium and relief from stress.

3 – After some time alone, find a good friend who can simply listen

INTJs usually want a lot of time alone when they are stressed out. However, after some time, they can be helped by having someone who will listen to their problems without trying to offer advice. Advice may be useful if they’re experiencing minor, everyday stress, but if the INTJ is experiencing “grip” stress, advice will only make them more irritated. Sometimes, talking through the problem out loud can help the INTJ to put together and realize a logical solution to their problem.

4 – Just Say “No” To Non-Essential Responsibilities

interrupted plans
Many INTJs report that lightening their workload helps to instantly reduce stress. Try to take a look at your calendar and see if there are any non-essential tasks you can postpone or cancel, especially tasks that involve socializing.

5 – Sleep

INTJs have very active minds and are extremely goal-oriented. They sometimes struggle with taking care of themselves because they are so focused on accomplishing their goals, or their mind is so busy looking into the future or solving problems. Getting sleep is a great way for them to find balance, return to normal, and get a fresh perspective.

6 – Get Outdoors

Being alone in nature can be extremely relaxing for an INTJ who’s stressed out. This allows them to find a healthy outlet for their sensing function, as they can focus on taking in all the little details of the trees, the sky, the sounds, the breeze. This calm focus on sensory detail can help them to manage their inferior function, and being alone can help them to more readily access their Intuition and find much-needed relief from stress.

7 – Exercise Alone

Solitary exercise gives the INTJ a chance to get alone and away from interruptions and noise and find balance in their mind. Exercise also releases endorphins in the brain that act as natural stress-reducers.

8 – Try to Solve One Minor Problem

INTJs are often very single-minded in their focus. When they are highly stressed or having a grip reaction, they may feel completely unable to focus or have direction. If they can distract themselves from the main problem, their most major focus, and switch their focus to a smaller problem, they can often find relief. Sometimes this involves doing some light proofreading, alphabetizing some books on a shelf, or even just organizing the refrigerator! The process of fixing a minor problem can help them to access their Extraverted Thinking in a way that is low-pressure. This can help them to lose their obsessive focus on fixing the big problem, and help them to regain their composure.

9 – Watch a Movie

Watching a movie can distract the INTJ from the pressure and confusion they are feeling, and can also help them to access their tertiary Introverted Feeling. Many times, people can find a way out of a grip stress reaction by accessing their tertiary “relief” function. Watching a movie can help the INTJ to process their feelings, experience unobtrusive sensory stimulation, and regain balance of their cognitive functions.

10 – Read a Book

Reading a book can help the INTJ to access their rich, imaginative Intuition. It can also help them to access their tertiary Feeling function, to find a pathway to equilibrium and mental clarity.

11 – Play Music

Many INTJs say that playing music provides a lot of relief from stress. Strumming a guitar or trying a new piano piece can help the INTJ to use their Sensing in a healthy, positive way. It can also help the INTJ to access their Introverted Feeling, as music often invokes a sense of emotional escape or relief.

12 – Reduce Sugar and Caffeine Use

Because over-stimulation is so stressful for INTJs, getting rid of stimulants like sugar or caffeine can help the INTJ to keep calm and balanced. Ni-dominant types find it very important to keep their bodies calm and focused so they can adequately access their Introverted intuition throughout the day. If they are feeling hyped up on sugar or caffeine, it can make sensory stimulation seem that much more powerful and distressing.

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic,  The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via FacebookInstagram, or Twitter!

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  1. As an INTJ I agree with this, however when I am forever sleeping, and watching TV to distract myself from the problems it becomes destructive. How do I get myself out of the work/family – stress, avoidance through sleep and TV cycle?

  2. As an INTJ I agree with all of the above. I have been in highly stressful environments, taken a walk and boom solved the problem. I do wonder that when you get stuck in a stress/avoidance cycle it can be destructive to yourself, work and family. How would you reconcile that situation?

  3. I very much agree on alone time and a walk. I had a hard time phrasing it to people, but when I get stressed out and then get annoyed, I turn into a person I don’t like. I don’t explode or anything but I’ll calmly say really biting things or things I know are too blunt for most people. And I think it all comes down to needing space. Like even subconsciously, I know I need it and if I don’t actively provide it for myself, my words will do it for me and I’ll say something that will back people away to give me that space. I’m aware of it now and I fight against it when it happens but I haven’t always won that fight. I’ve struggled with this since I was a teen and it very very very rarely comes out now, but when I feel myself stressing out in this particular way/loop, I tell people that I appreciate the concern or offers of company but I need alone time. Alone time and a walk. Knowing what you need during intense stress or anger is so important. Not only do you risk hurting people when you can’t fix/pause/help it, you can also lose credibility. It just ruins your environment.

  4. Thank you so much for this information, Susan.

    I, probably like a lot of introverted intuitives, tried to fit myself into a society built for extroverted sensors. That is until I came across your information as well as David Kiersey’s book, “Please Understand Me”.

    Now I can be more forgiving of myself.

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