As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and more cities are recommending self-isolating as a precaution, it struck me that people who are normally busy and living an extraverted life are being forced by circumstance to live as an introvert.
Introversion and extraversion are personality typing classifications that stem from the work of psychoanalyst Carl Jung. These classifications do more than just specify whether people like people (extraverts) or not (introverts). In fact, this simplification does not accurately reflect what introversion and extraversion mean. These types refer to how people recharge their energy.
Introverts recharge through introspection, quiet, and intimate conversation with no more than a few people at a time. Loud and stimulating environments, big groups, and being ‘on’ or ‘fake’ are draining for an introvert.
Extraverts recharge through engaging with others, processing ideas out loud, and living outwardly (groups, activities, being in public). Quiet, reflection, and very personal conversation can be draining to extraverts.
So where does this leave those who are being asked to self-isolate? If you are not sick, you still have your normal stockpile of energy but now may be unable to expend it. There is value for each type to have exposure and comfort living as the other type. I often encourage introverts to practice social engagement, group activities, and public speaking to get comfortable with their ‘inner extie’. Same thing for extraverts, as there is value to sitting with yourself and journaling, meditating, and practicing listening.
Humans don’t like to be forced to do anything, however, and that is what self-isolation measures may feel like. I would encourage you to engage your self-talk and shift your perception to this being a choice. You could go out and about in the community but you are choosing to remain safe for yourself and your loved ones.
If you are an extravert, try to find a balance in your day. Schedule video calls, text friends, have phone calls, go outside, find ways to get some exposure to people but in a way that is safe and respects the requests of your community at this time. Don’t be afraid to use this time to recharge your batteries and maybe work on a project you’ve been meaning to get to for a long time or brainstorm ideas for the future.
If you are an introvert, you are probably doing okay. Days filled with remote work, naps, media, texting and phone being the main sources of contact, and quiet is likely quite comfortable for you and rejuvenating. However, introverts are at greater risk of being in their heads and worrying so taking additional measures to deal with stress would be essential- journaling, meditation, sharing your feelings through text with a friend, self-talk, gratitude, and exposure to happy things are all tools that may benefit you at this time.
Remember, this is a time limited event that is giving us an opportunity as individuals to connect with ourselves and get back to basics. As a community, we are linked and joined by this common experience even if we do not have the opportunity to talk about it in person.
Enjoy this time. Be with yourself. Be kind. Be safe.
By Paige Abbott
Paige is continuing to practice as a psychologist in Calgary, AB at the present time. She is happy to shift as many of her sessions as needed to phone and video sessions. An introvert by nature, she is relishing the quiet and opportunity to be with self and immediate family.