“I talked to a calzone for fifteen minutes last night before I realised it was just an introverted pizza. I wish all my acquaintances were so tasty.” – Jarod Kintz
All humans need some form of connection with other humans – a statement backed-up by the fact that solitary confinement has long been used as a method of punishment or even torture. So, unless you’re ‘Cool Hand Luke’, the need for social distancing and self-isolation is going to be tough, but will it be tougher for extroverts?
Business as Usual for Introverts?
As the world goes into lockdown, many self-confessed introverts have posted comments on social media about being totally prepared for isolation, saying that staying at home and being in their own company is what they do best, but will social distancing really be a breeze for introverts?
The answer is no. Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert, we all need some form of social interaction to maintain good mental health, so while the idea of avoiding people may seem like a dream come true for some, total isolation is not healthy for anyone in the long term.
For many introverts, the prospect of working from home and not having to attend enforced meetings or networking opportunities won’t feel like a hardship. In the same vein, not having to politely decline party invites and be accused of being a “killjoy” by others will no doubt be a relief, but the problem here is that the very real need for social connection often goes unrecognised. The daily interaction with other people provided by everyday and often mundane activities meets that need without most of us noticing it.
As with many things, it’s only when it’s taken away that we begin to miss what we had.
You see, being an introvert is not necessarily being “anti-social” or being “shy”, it’s simply recognising the need for quiet time to recharge your batteries. There are introverts who can party like the best of them, but the difference is that they recognise too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.
It’s not about avoiding social interaction, it’s about recognising limits and taking time out when needed.
Recognise Your Limits
It’s fair to say that those who thrive on the hustle and bustle of daily life and the constant connection with others provided through busy workplaces may feel panic-stricken by the prospect of working in isolation at home. Not being able to meet up with friends after work or attend social events at the weekend will again feel like some form of torture for those who revel in the company of others, making it important to look for other “virtual” ways to connect during the weeks of lockdown – especially for those living alone.
However, while modern technology and social media make it possible to stay connected in many positive ways, it can also lead to increasing levels of anxiety through the constant reporting of bad news, and images of people having “fun” in isolation may even increase FOMO feelings in many.
The key message for extroverts is to remember that no one is in “party mode” all the time.
Anxiety over “missing out” can lead to a fixation on being connected to everything and everyone 24/7, and even before the lockdown, it was already recognised that down time away from devices is increasingly important in terms of improving mental health.
Of course you’re going to miss life as it was, but just as you enjoyed down time from time to time before, remember to take time out to enjoy it now. Avoid focusing on the storm that’s coming and think instead about the party that’s coming at the end of it all.
A Healthy Balance
It’s interesting to note that while many introverts joke about loving the need to stay at home, being in lockdown with family members may eventually lead to the same need for quiet time alone to recharge batteries.
Introvert or extrovert, we all need the human connection, but we also all need our own space from time to time.
Recognising your feelings and the knock-on effect they have on your behaviour will become increasingly important as the need for social distancing continues. Take advantage of the opportunity to to get some exercise when possible and take advantage of old-fashioned means of communication such as talking on the phone to help maintain healthy lines of communication without the unhealthy input of social media.
It’s all about getting a healthy balance, and remembering that we’re all in this together.
Don MacNaughton is a High performance coach having worked with thousands of people over the last two decades to achieve their goals and dreams.
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