by Donna Hay
How are you faring during coronavirus lockdown? Are you thriving or just surviving? Happy or sad? Anxious or unconcerned? Or maybe your feelings are somewhere in the middle. Your answers to these questions could have a lot to do with your personality type.
How? Well, do you gain energy from being around others and thrive on outside stimuli, or are you the opposite? Someone who needs time alone to recoup after a night out with lots of people. As the old saying goes, “Go big or go home.” Well, don’t bother saying that an introvert, because we will. In fact, we left half an hour ago. You didn’t notice? How could you? You were too busy belting out your rendition of the King's, “A Little Less Conversation” (a tad ironic, don’t you think) complete with the snarling lips and Elvis’ signature dance moves.
Yes, “JOMO” or “the joy of missing out” is a motto adopted by introverts the world over, long before lockdown life. We like missing out. We enjoy staying home and engaging in solitary activities. We don’t like being the center of attention. Even though we’re proficient in many areas, maybe even Elvis’ dance moves, we often don’t feel the need to show off these talents. Our eyes see everything, but reveal nothing. And we like it that way.
So what do your traits reveal about you? How are you coping with 2020 so far? Are you enjoying the slower pace of life coronavirus lockdown has brought about, or does it feel like 5 months of Mondays since it started? Your answers indicate which personality type you lean towards. Sometimes, however, there may not always be a perfect fit into one or the other mold, and at times it can be difficult to see where someone fits in.
For example, I have a friend who, although she gravitates more towards introversion, classifies herself as an ambivert or “extroverted introvert.” She is selectively social, meaning she enjoys socializing and going out, but may not always attend. A word of warning, though, don’t not invite her somewhere. She would take offence. She likes to go out, but also likes to have the choice not to if she doesn’t feel like it. Cheeky, I know, but that’s how she rolls.
Ambiverts are basically walking paradoxes whose energy levels are closely tied to their environments. They take a while to warm up in social situations, so they definitely won’t be the first to hit the dance floor. They can be both charming and chatty, but also deeply introspective, and can be either intrigued or exhausted by other humans depending on the given scenario. And then sometimes they just want to go home to devour snacks in peace. When they get there they are likely to change into something that makes them look homeless. Comfort is key, right?
So which personality type is faring best under coronavirus lockdown? To be honest, that’s not an easy question to answer. The obvious answer would be introverts, largely because we like our own company, so being at home a lot doesn’t really bother us. But that said, we also hate uncertainty and are not fond of change, so this lockdown has left many of us quite anxious and overwhelmed regarding what may or may not happen in the future.
Zooming or FaceTiming our friends can be a lot more intimidating for an introvert than you may think. It’s not like we can slink into the background during a Zoom call. And it also doesn’t allow for those natural pauses in conversations that would happen in real life. Isolating with others in our homes, with husbands, kids, and housemates is also often not ideal for the intrepid introvert. We are not wired for this full-time interaction.
Extroverts, on the other hand, may be struggling with an entirely different set of challenges. Their social batteries might be flat from zero social interaction and lack of the stimulation they get from being out and about. They may be trying to virtually recreate all they’ve lost with Zoom wine dates and thumping online exercise classes. And feeling connected with others is not wrong by any means. They are doing what they need to do, in order to get by. And that’s totally OK.
I guess the bottom line is, all of us may have a bit of both personality traits and it’s hard to pin down which type will win the coronavirus lockdown challenge. Humans are complicated and diverse creatures at the best of times. We could be stimulated or bored with exactly the same situations that happen at different times, basely solely on our mood and thoughts on that particular given day. Gosh, we are temperamental beings, aren’t we?
So how can we cope successfully with lockdown life regardless of our personality traits? Well, what if we transformed our thinking to be happy regardless of whether we were obligated to stay cooped up inside or not? What if we used our magical abilities to think happy thoughts, irrespective of what is happening to the world around us? While I readily admit it’s not always easy to be positive in trying circumstances, it’s definitely possible. One thing I personally stopped doing very early on during this pandemic is reading all the very depressing news articles and statistics on COVID 19. It’s good to be aware of what’s going on, but to a degree. There are limits to how much depressing news one can take in.
Adopting a regular exercise routine has done wonders for both my mental and physical health. Nurturing the soul and having a purpose in life is fundamental to our well-being at any time, and not just now. Beating the lockdown blues could mean setting some goals and doing our best to achieve them. This could be practicing a new skill, learning a different language or brushing up on our skills in the kitchen. What about planning a fun and spontaneous date night with your other half? You may have more time than you usually do, so why not invest it in your romantic relationship? This is mutually beneficial on so many different levels.
Admittedly, beating the coronavirus lockdown blues might be a little more difficult if you have been thrust unexpectedly into the deep end of home schooling, learning about geographic locations you never knew existed and solving math equations you have no idea you even could. However, this could be a great time to bond as a family and get back to basics, as it were. What about playing some games or building a puzzle as a family? This is nourishment for any family, and the kids will love you for helping build that blanket fort and then getting inside it with them. The heartfelt grins on their little faces will make it all worthwhile.
These activities benefit everyone, and sometimes it can feel so damn genuine and real that it makes you wish you could always live at this slower pace of life that lockdown has afforded us. Drop off a meal for someone who needs it. Wake up early and go for a sunrise walk. Read a novel just for fun. Get away from phones and other devices and set some restrictions on screen time. We lazily scroll on our phones or devices, because it’s easier than finding something constructive to do. Don’t waste this precious downtime, invest it in your future. Use this precious time to lay the foundation. Set those goals, and slowly achieve them day-by-day.
No matter what personality traits we do or don’t have, or whether we enjoy being alone, or not, the lockdown blues are real. But they needn’t be dark inkpot blue. Make them aqua or turquoise. Add in a splash of pink or yellow to brighten the curve. Make the best of this time that has been given to us to just slow down and enjoy the ride. Wrestle your thoughts every day into submission, so each and every day is gift. Remain grateful and be authentic. And above all, stay safe. As Elvis would say, “Thank you very much.”