Introvert or extrovert? We are all in this together…

It’s likely that while we’re all on lockdown you’ve stumbled upon this meme on your Social Media. It may have prompted some laughter but it also holds some underlying truths. As the old adage says – at the core of every joke is the truth!

Though it’s true that we are all going through lockdown together, metaphorically speaking of course, how we’re individually coping may differ from person to person and may even be a reflection of which category we fall into; introverted or extroverted.

For some it’s pretty obvious which camp they’re in but if you’re still on the fence here’s how you can assess which type you are.

People described as introverts tend to gain energy from their own company, small groups or one to one situations, while extroverts tend to gain energy from larger group situations.  

Of course, it goes without saying that a person isn’t exclusively an introvert or extrovert, but their tendency may provide different challenges and coping skills – especially during testing times like self-isolation.  Once you’ve gleaned what type of person you and indeed your loved ones are, you’ll be better equipped to be sensitive to both of your needs.

Firstly, take some time to think about what your needs are, those of your family members and friends.  One type isn’t better than another but just acknowledging differences might help you understand how you’re feeling and what you can do differently to help yourself and others.

Secondly, don’t assume. Just because your friend is more introverted doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate and need a phone call from you or to be invited to your group online quiz.  Likewise, your extroverted family member will probably need some downtime and to be alone or in a one on one situation without interruption.  Personality types aren’t a one size fits all so it’s important to adapt to the individual!

What might the challenges be?  
If you fit into the introvert camp, you may be used to your own company or spending time with friends one to one, so finding yourself suddenly in a full house with little or no time to your self may seem like a daunting prospect.  But fret not, there are ways to get you back in your comfort zone.

Try putting aside some alone time or scheduling a phone call with a friend. Focus on your needs and try to make them a reality – even if it’s for just a small window of time!

If, however, you’re on the other end of the spectrum and can be classified as an extrovert, you may be struggling to adjust to a slower pace from the hustle and bustle you’re usually accustomed to.

But just because your social life may not be as thriving as usual, it doesn’t mean it has to be non-existent. After all socially distancing doesn’t need to mean being socially distant!

And in fact you could find yourself in the role of galvanising people together into group chats and video pub quizzes – so embrace it, now’s your time to shine!

Even small gestures like taking the time to check in with your neighbours when you go on your daily walk, or saying hello to people can make all the difference – you could be the only person they’ve seen all day – just remember to stay the required distance apart!  

In general everyone can benefit from imposing some kind of structure to their day during this uncertain time.  You can do this by creating routine such as getting up at the same time each day, scheduling social activities such as phone calls and e-pub quizzes and even organising after-work Zoom drinks on a Friday as you would normally.

Sticking to the known can greatly help in times of unknown, such as now.

Managing anxiety Nevertheless, there is no point downplaying that this is still a challenging time for all. If you are struggling with anxiety at the moment, try using the APPLE:

ACKNOWLEDGE – Notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.

PAUSE – Don’t react as you normally do.  Don’t react at all.  Just pause, and breathe.  

PULL BACK – Tell yourself this is just the worry talking, and this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary.    It is only a thought or feeling.  Don’t believe everything you think!  Thoughts are not statements of fact.

LET GO – Let go of the thought or feeling.    It will pass.  You don’t have to respond to them.  You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.

EXPLORE – Explore the present moment, because right now, in this moment, all is well.  Notice your breathing, and the sensations of breathing.  Notice the ground beneath you.  Look around and notice what you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell.  Right NOW.  Then, SHIFT YOUR FOCUS OF ATTENTION to something else – on what you need to do, on what you were doing before you noticed the worry, or do something else – mindfully, with your full attention.

And finally, who doesn’t love a little bit of Stephen Fry:

Take care of yourself and we will see you on the other side.