Having to stay at home brings with it many challenges, these challenges will be different for each of us depending on a whole variety of factors. I have been reflecting on how being an introvert, or an extravert might affect our experience in this extraordinary time. In particular, how does this aspect of our personality influence the way in which we rest or recover from all that drains us in life? How can that understanding help us to find ways that help sustain us in the current situation?
By an introvert, I am talking about someone who is re-energised and refreshed primarily by spending time on their own, having space, silence, solitude and stillness. Whereas, an extravert would be more likely to be re-energised, and refreshed by spending time in communication, community, and company.
For some of us staying home means we are alone, physically isolated from everyone but, mostly in control of our own environment. For an introvert, this may actually not bring too many challenges. But for an extravert, this could feel stressful, or even exhausting.
The challenge for you extroverts is to find new and safe ways to connect with others, to find virtual community and conversations with individuals and groups. Many people are initiating video conversations with friends, meeting virtually for coffee, and organising group gatherings online. Maybe you could be the one to initiate something. There are many schemes connecting people in local communities, either to help or be helped. In the past, you may not have had time to be well connected locally; here’s an opportunity to meet a whole new group of people. So many activities are becoming available online. Being with others while also staying at home has never been easier; you can atttend exercise classes, pub quizzes, church services and choirs. Have a look around and find what works for you.
For others staying at home means being surrounded by others in a relatively small space. Each person with their own needs and personalities. For the extraverts among us, they may be enjoying the social interaction. However, for an introvert, you may be finding this overwhelming, anxiety-provoking and exhausting experience.
The challenge is to find ways to have time alone, pockets of quiet, even if you need earphones to achieve that. Choosing to go for a walk alone, to soak in the bath, or retreat to your bedroom/spare room. These are all ways of creating that vital quiet space.
You may also need to be careful about how much you communicate with those outside of your home; how may group chats you join or video calls you accept. You may not be able to fully control the amount of contact you have with those you are sharing your home with, so think carefully about any extra communication where you do have a choice.
Creating sustainable habits
In both cases, recognising what you need is the first step. Finding new, creative ways to meet your needs will take a little time. It will require experimenting and reflecting on what works for you and what doesn’t. Since we do not know the length of time this situation is going to go on for, it is important we invest time figuring out how to create a sustainabily healthy environment. It is important to make sure we keep as energised and well as possible, both for ourselves and for those you are in community with, both real and virtual.
Remember, you may have both introverts and extraverts in the same house; not everyone is aware of their own needs or reactions to the current situation. Perhaps you could start a conversation today around how to create safe environments for those with whom you share your home.