I know we’ve all heard and read these words countless times already, but we are in a global crisis. We’re trying to contain a deadly disease from spreading and from overwhelming hospitals and healthcare heroes. People with the ability to do so had to adapt to working or learning from home in a very short period of time. Countless others have to deal with issues surrounding being out of work. Too many people have died and there’s so much uncertainty.
I don’t need to list what’s happening; we’re living through it, and that alone, I think we’ve all realized, is difficult enough.
But physical distancing, which hopes to reduce the number of infected by limiting how often people come into contact with each other, adds an added layer of difficulty, especially for extroverts.
Social Distancing As An Extrovert
Social distancing (or, more accurately, “Physical Distancing“) is the responsible thing to do. We are trying to “flatten the curve” and keep our loved ones in at-risk populations safe. For those reasons, I’m happily staying in my apartment and doing what we’re supposed to.
As an extrovert, though, I’m finding the isolation of physical distancing particularly challenging to deal with.
I navigate the world differently than introverted people do. An introvert is someone content with being alone, who’s most comfortable in between social interactions.
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Myself and other extroverts, on the other hand, thrive in social settings and are energized in the presence of other people.
We are fulfilled by interaction, outgoing, and talkative, which leaves us craving the buzz of excitement we get from hanging out with others. I personally get bored easily because I’m constantly trying new things to spark my passions and make me feel vitalized.
A quick scan of extrovert articles and you’ll see that we’re typically unable to spend time alone. In this current state of affairs, that’s unfortunately what we’ve been left to do.
Though people simply cannot be categorized into just two groups and though exceptions and variations apply, I’d definitely agree that I’m prone to feeling sad when I don’t interact with people.
This has left me wondering how to cope with the widespread “stay at home” orders as an extrovert and how to nurture my mental health.
I think it comes down to feeling connected in other ways and staying occupied while still allowing myself some downtime.
Tips For Coping as An Extrovert
The first thing to come to mind was to utilize technology.
I couldn’t imagine facing this situation without the ability to video call the people I love. I’ve had virtual family dinners, I’ve group chatted with friends, and I’ve attended Zoom support groups. Seeing people in front of me, albeit on screen, makes me feel less lonely. Online gaming has allowed a similar feeling of connectedness to others across distances.
The internet is also a powerful resource for learning.
People have been talking more about using the internet as a learning tool via things like YouTube Learning, virtual field trips, museum tours, and online classes. Even if you aren’t in school, learning is a great way to feel close to others, distracted, and proud of yourself.
It’s also important to remember to be smart about using technology.
I know many people who typically try to avoid their phones because of the stress that’s attached to them, like how we’re constantly available to our bosses or how social media can breed negative comparisons. As extroverts, we may find ourselves clinging to those things that keep us attached to the outside world.
We can use technology without being consumed by it, and in this atmosphere, balance would be helpful.
Extroverts need to try new things to stay entertained.
That being said, during this time, don’t pressure yourself to do something extreme just because the internet has made claims that you should.
Yes, we have more free time now. Yes it might be nice to begin doing something you’ve told yourself you would do if you had time. However, keep in mind that we’re collectively uncertain, anxious, and confused, so if learning a new language or starting a business doesn’t feel like something you want to do, don’t worry.
Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling, be patient with yourself, and don’t allow the guilt room to grow.
Do what makes you happy, regardless of how “productive” it is.
Taking care of yourself is work too. And remember the ever-applicable advice that it’s about balance.
Being creative is essential for an extroverted personality stuck at home.
We must think outside the box in order to figure out what we can do, what we feel like doing, how to stay busy, and what might fill up our cups and make us feel good. We have to be creative to solve work-from-home, parenting, or online school problems.
We have to be creative in modifying our goals so they’re more focused on what we can actually do now.
While we stay home, it’s important to ask for comfort and support when we need it.
If we’re not around people like we normally are, we might not be talking about what’s bothering us. We aren’t in situations that might lead friends, family, or coworkers to ask if we’re okay.
It’s up to us to reach out when necessary.
Regardless of how many people claim it’s “attention-seeking,” it’s healthier to ask for what is going to help than to assume people should just know or to engage in less-than-healthy behaviors.
Taking time to be mindful has helped me embrace this living in the present.
During this crisis, everyone is in survival mode, and that involves only being concerned with the present moment and getting through the day as it comes.
When our fight-or-flight response kicks in, and survival matters most, we have no choice but to be present.
I usually do a 5-minute guided meditation, 2-minute breathing exercise, or listen to positive affirmations because even though I’m trying to stay distracted, I also need to sit in silence for a little each day.
It’s important for all personalities to continue to do what usually helps with our mental health.
I’m a morning person, and I thrive in the early hours. That’s why I take the time to be mindful soon after I wake up. I also know that routine is beneficial for my mental health; it gives me much-needed stability even when things are chaotic, and ensures that my brain is at least a little activated as I follow structured steps. So my morning routine is a big part of how I’m coping with “stay at home” orders.
Take whatever usually works for you (self-care practices, talking with a therapist) and do it.
A global pandemic is something I certainly didn’t expect to be dealing with, but the whole world is in the same boat.
As isolating as this situation is, I’m taking comfort in the fact that everyone, everywhere, is going through this with me.
The world sometimes feels smaller because we’re confined to our homes and limited in where we can go. At the same time, though, we’re connected through technology and our shared circumstances, and that makes everything feel bigger.
We’re all in this together, finding a new normal while we stay home so the world can heal.
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