Stress: Coping tips for the S-type personality

Stress: Coping tips for the S-type personality

Knowing one’s own DiSC style, or that of another, can help you be aware of what situations might cause you stress and how you might respond.

You might notice the S style retreating from social situations, even more than the current environment requires. They may be absorbing the stress of others while pushing their own to the side. S styles, especially those with i tendencies, are often empathetic, which can be difficult when so many people are suffering. An S-type person under stress may appear withdrawn, passive, overwhelmed, inflexible, indecisive, or overly focused on details that seem unimportant to you.

What might be stressing the S style right now?

The DiSC S style is often conflict-averse, and this year has seen conflict at every level. S styles are probably challenged right now by

  • disrupted routines at work and home
  • all the unknowns making it difficult to plan ahead
  • having to multitask, especially when work-home divisions are blurred
  • the energy it takes to be on video calls
  • seeing people struggle and not being able to help
  • having over-committed, taken on too much at work and home
  • not feeling innovative, when innovation is what is needed
  • being unable to participate in their usual (and comforting) holiday traditions
  • having to work more independently, making more decisions on their own with less feedback from others
  • ways of maintaining positive relationships challenged by pandemic, work situations, or other changes
  • anything that challenges their core belief: I’m valuable if I’m accepted, if I can please.

From comfort zone to growth zone

What does the S style need during times of change?

Reassurance: knowing that things are under control and will turn out okay

Harmony: freedom from tension, conflict, and ongoing stress

Direction: knowing where we are headed and what is expected of them

Tips for the S style

  • Make a plan for staying connected to friends and family; don’t wait for it to happen naturally. This may mean putting regular events on your calendar reminding you to text, call, or write someone. Reaching out because it’s an item on your to-do list doesn’t make your connection with that person less genuine.
  • Find safe ways to volunteer and give back to your community (if you haven’t already over-committed to volunteer work). Some of your usual altruistic impulses will be hard to act on, but try to be flexible and look for other opportunities.
  • If you have over-committed, find a way to take some things off your plate, even if it means temporarily disappointing someone else. And practice saying “no” to extra tasks when your to-do list is already full.
  • You may be worried about bothering other people by asking for help. But being honest about your feelings can actually help others by normalizing their own feelings of stress and giving them a chance to help someone they care about (you!).
  • Work on building your comfort with both conflict and making mistakes, two things that are normal and often healthy.
  • If you have trouble speaking up or getting a word in during video meetings (when it’s harder to read bodily language and have overlapping conversations are frequent), send a note to your team with ideas for making sure everyone who wants to speak gets to speak.
  • Concrete, project-based tasks are comforting, and it feels good to check them off your list. But that might mean you procrastinate on bigger-picture or more creative aspects of your work that also need your attention. Block out time that is only for brainstorming and creative thinking.
  • Is there a low-stress way for you to collaborate with one or a few people on a fun project? Maybe a couple friends gather over video chat to make some origami holiday decorations, or you sign up for a short, low-commitment community ed class.
  • Know that you’re not alone if you’re nervous about seeing more people. Nearly half of respondents (49%) to American Psychological Association’s latest Stress in America poll said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends.

Tips for every style

  • Get enough sleep. Try napping.
  • Exercise as appropriate.
  • Get outside. If you can’t get outside, look at images of outdoor beauty or get a few indoor plants.
  • Stay connected and social in safe ways.
  • Practice self-compassion.
  • Stay (or become) grateful. Studies have shown that those who practice gratitude are more optimistic and have better relationships.
  • Look for opportunities to laugh. This video of babies laughing is worth viewing.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Now might be the time to reach out to a friend, a life coach, a therapist, or a help line.
  • Learn more about yourself with Everything DiSC Workplace or build your emotional intelligence with Everything DiSC Agile EQ.

We’d like to end with these words from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:

Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.

By Jessica Franken and Kristeen Bullwinkle


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