Self-Care for Introverts during Social Distancing

By March 28, 2021January 6th, 2022No Comments

Photo: GabrielaPalai/Pexels

Author: Emiliya Tsaneva

In the current situation when we are advised to have less contact with people, we immediately think about all the extroverts and how difficult this is going to be for them in particular. Indeed, initially a lot of introverts had the reaction: “Great, now I am just not going to see people, without having to come up with excuses!”. But although it might feel like their natural state to self-isolate and not to see people a lot, if this continues for a longer period, it does have a negative effect on introverts as well. 

According to the Cambridge dictionary the term introvert means a person, who is shy, silent and would rather spend his time alone than with other people. The introvert recharges himself by spending time alone – reading a book, watching a movie, drawing, walking in nature, doing individual sports, etc. When it comes to social contacts, especially if we are talking about a bigger number of people and loud events, most often introverts get stressed out and exhausted. Meeting new people is also not the most pleasant activity they can do to themselves. Of course, the description above is just a general frame, introversion in the individual could be to a different extent. 

It’s not at all something bad to be an introvert. It’s just important to know ourselves well, to be aware of what recharges us and what makes us exhausted, so that we can give ourselves what we need and have acceptance for ourselves in situations that are difficult for us. During the time of social distancing introverts are supposed to be in their natural setting – we can take time for our favourite activities on our own and peacefully avoid contact with people, since at the moment this is the norm and is actually preferred, while earlier it was perceived as something weird. Although introverts seem to be better equipped for the current situation, this actually poses a serious risk of going to extremes.

We, introverts, are still social beings and even when being in contact with others often exhausts us and stresses us out, we still need it. The current situation is the perfect excuse not to have contact with other people, which in the long run could lead us to experiencing even stronger feelings of shyness and social anxiety. We get so used to being alone and not having contact with people, that the moment we need to go to the shop or to have some kind of contact with a bigger number of people, our anxiety raises to an extent we have never felt before. We get so used to being alone that suddenly being in social situations makes us feel more discomfort than ever before.

Another risk when we stay alone for too long is that we could start feeling lonely, start wondering what is wrong with us or start longing for human interaction, but we might have no idea how to get it, and in the end all of this has the potential to lead to depression. Being in contact with close people contributes to our wellbeing and could bring us joy, this is why it is extremely important to give it to ourselves regularly, even when it costs us energy and effort – it’s for our own good.

What could we do in order to feel better during social distancing?

  • Communicate with your colleagues – when we work from home, we often focus entirely on getting things done and we communicate with our colleagues only when we have a question or we need assistance with something. When we are at the office, no matter if we are keen on it or not, we take part in the so-called small talk. We just share some insignificant things with each other, which, however, gives us the feeling that we are part of a group – no matter if we are aware of it or not, we, introverts, also have the need to belong. When we work from home, these little interpersonal interactions are missing. We can give ourselves some human contact by sometimes proactively messaging a colleague we like as a person and ask them how they are doing, how was the weekend or even send them a funny picture – laughter has a tremendous impact on productivity levels and motivation, so no worries, this won’t hinder you from getting your tasks done, on the contrary.
  • Communicate with your friends – take your time to message your friends and also schedule some video calls the first moment possible – really using video, don’t talk to them only over the phone or texting. When we see the other person, even when it is on camera, we feel as if they are in the room with us, which satisfies the need of human contact much more, than when we simply text or talk on the phone. Of course, talking on the phone or texting are better than no human interaction at all, but being able to see your friends is more satisfying. Here as well try to be the proactive side – a lot of introverts complain that at a certain point nobody texts them, nobody contacts them, they get this idea that no one likes them, but this is often due to the fact that they usually reply to invitations with “no” or when someone messages them, they text back one-two words, so the other person might feel that the interaction is not really welcomed. So if we have given those signals to the people around us for a long time, they naturally start pulling away from us – again, not because they don’t like us, but because if there is no reciprocity, the communication dies out at a certain point. But if we become proactive and message the other person first, at a certain point things will balance.
  • Do sports – do yoga, dance, have a look for some cool videos for exercising at home and do them regularly, have a walk at the park – this definitely helps you feel better and your body will thank you. Just turn it into one of your priorities and do it regularly.
  • Adopt a pet – to take care of a pet is a serious thing. Here we talk about another living creature, which you will be responsible for, so first take a good consideration if you can carry this responsibility appropriately in the long term. If you can, then you should know that a pet will help you feel better, it will help decrease the feeling of loneliness and make you feel loved. Besides, it might often make you laugh with its weird behavior sometimes. In the shelters there are a lot of cats and dogs, which will be more than happy to keep you company. If you can’t take care of a pet long term, there are a lot of organisations that are looking for temporary home for a dog or a cat, so this way you will give someone in need a foster home until they find their permanent one and at the same time you will have a good company for a while.
  • Tactile stimulation –  we all have the need of tactile stimulation, which in the current situation often stays unsatisfied. We lack the hugs and being close to our loved ones and sooner or later this makes us miserable. Of course, it’s not the same, but we could still give ourselves some tactile stimulation on our own – a nice soft blanket to cuddle with, a cozy bean bag we can hug or giving ourselves a self-massage could be very useful and increase our mood and sense of wellbeing. 

It’s always better to invest time and effort in prevention, than to wonder how to fix the damage afterwards. It is important for introverts to give themselves some form of contact preventively, before distancing themselves from people so much, that they no longer know how to communicate with others. But even if you have already reached the point where it has become extremely difficult to communicate with others, things can get better – just make sure you act on time and get yourself professional support.

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