The holidays look different for each of us this year. Whether you’re unable to make it home for a normal celebration or you’ve been cooped up with your family for months, this holiday season is likely to be one with more tension and stress than normal. As much as our families and loved ones can be a source of comfort, support and love in this difficult year, it’s also crucial to remember what you owe to yourself, tending to your own needs and making space for your boundaries. Your Enneagram type can help you know what needs and stressors you should look out for this holiday season; while one type might need to check in more often with their loved ones, another type might need to affirm that alone time is healthy. The holidays are a time for community and family, but it’s never more important to honor yourself and your own needs. Here’s how to take care of yourself based on your Enneagram type.
Type 1: The Reformer
As a Type 1 on the Enneagram, you’re devoted to doing things right, no matter the cost to yourself. People often rely on you as a source of consistency and order; those traits will be especially appreciated this year. Be aware that the lack of control you’re feeling about the world at large might manifest itself in even small things this holiday season and be gracious with yourself and others when little things don’t go according to plan. Things will not be perfect and normal this year, and it’s not your responsibility to make them so! Try to view setbacks in their proper proportion and remind yourself that the important things, like your loved ones and anything else you’re thankful for, are far more important than the entrée being out exactly on time or the Zoom call functioning with no lags. Things don’t have to be perfect to be valuable, and that’s a big lesson this year has held for us all.
Type 2: The Helper
More than any other Enneagram Type, 2s can feel called on or expected to pitch in, cover the gaps, and make sure everything is handled during the holidays. 2s often feel responsible for others’ emotions, which can be especially hazardous at such a high-intensity time. Manage your expectations for yourself; everyone is stressed and emotional this year, and some of it is for cosmic reasons you didn’t cause and can’t be expected to fix. Manage your expectations for others as well; some traditions might not look the same this year, and your loved ones might not be as available as other years. When you need something, make sure to give it to yourself, whether it’s five minutes to take a breath or asking for help. Remember that it doesn’t make you a bad person if you aren’t able to be there for everyone at the capacity you’re used to; you deserve rest as much as anyone else.
Type 3: The Achiever
Type 3s are incredibly adept at putting their best, most impressive foot forward in any situation. You can become so used to shifting and appearing successful that you can do it even around the people who love you the most. Time with your loved ones is an opportunity that you might not be taking advantage of; it’s an opportunity to feel loved and supported regardless of your accomplishments or appearance. What if you spent this holiday season soaking up the love and respect that exist naturally for you in this space without you having to earn it? Reflect on what it means to you, and see what it feels like to rely on this love and support a little more.
Type 4: The Romantic
You’re used to living life with your emotions on the surface, remaining deeply connected to your inner self at all times. This year, this trait might leave you vulnerable to a lot of free-flying stress and emotional overflow from other people. The deeper issues you have with the people around you stay more on your mind than they do for other Enneagram types, which can make it hard to compartmentalize minor tensions now from your longer-term, deeper conflicts with others. Try to remember this and give yourself ample time and space to react to obstacles; try to give those around you the benefit of the doubt when you can and give yourself permission to disengage when you can’t.
Type 5: The Investigator
This holiday might feel overwhelming for you because Enneagram Type 5s tend to have bigger, less flexible boundaries than other types; take the space you need but don’t shy away from the connections you can handle that will make your life better. Challenge yourself to tell the people in your life why you’re thankful for them, even if you’re scared it will leave you depleted. Emotional connections are important and taking the initiative might make you feel more in control and help show you that you don’t need to be so self-protective at all times. If you do find yourself needing space or time alone, make it clear to those around you that it’s not personal, just something you need to be your best self.
Type 6: The Loyalist
Type 6s always have their heads on a swivel, seeing potential bumps in the road miles before they happen. You know your loved ones and your holiday routines well; use this knowledge to think about potential stressors and make your peace with them ahead of time, making a plan if necessary. If you know you’re likely to have specific tensions with certain people, visualize a scenario with a positive outcome, like calmly changing the subject or breaking away from the situation before it escalates. Communication is key. Don’t get caught up in your head about what others expect or think of you; just ask!
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Your tendency as an Enneagram Type 7 is to speed through the parts of life that don’t enthrall you but this year has taught us more than most to appreciate time with loved ones for the gift that it is. See what you can value about the mundane this year. When there are quiet moments, spend a second reflecting on how special it is to hold them close instead of rushing on to the next topic or activity. See if these memories hold value even when they’re not exciting or novel, and reflect on what they mean to you.
Type 8: The Challenger
Have grace for others and practice empathy for yourself; people are stressed and tired and might make mistakes, and for once you might not need to hold them to your normal rigorous standards. Enneagram Type 8s are known for being blunt and honest but this year might be a time to practice holding your tongue if you notice that those around you seem more fragile or tired than normal. Use your innate protective instinct to watch out for your loved ones; your strength is always a gift but might be even more appreciated than usual this year.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
The holidays can be especially stressful for the mediators of the Enneagram; Type 9s are constantly finding themselves at the cool center of disagreements and conflicts year round, and the holidays can escalate this dynamic. People might try to make you responsible for their feelings, for settling arguments, or for listening to their grievances, but know that you never are. 9s can have a hard time exerting boundaries if there’s any risk of conflict and they’re also good at masking their negative emotions, making them extremely vulnerable at a time when everyone could use a good listener. It has never been more crucial to protect yourself; enforce your boundaries, even if this is sometimes awkward or not fully understood by your loved ones. You’re worth it.
No matter what your holiday looks like this year, there are bound to be factors that might trip up your weak spots, as well as ones that call to your strengths. Whether you’re calling in to a remote celebration, gathering with your household, celebrating alone this year or coping with setbacks or tragedy, this year will doubtless demand more of us than in the past. But the spirit of the holidays, the sense of gratitude and the appreciation for families, both blood and found, are things we need now more than ever. The year might demand more of us but there is a reward for rising to the challenge, working together and playing to our strengths; the Enneagram can be a great guiding tool for finding our way. I hope that wherever you find yourself this holiday, you’re able to make the best it can be and appreciate the strength within.