April 30, 2020

Dear Introvert: 7 Ways to Keep your Sanity in Quarantine with Others.

Check out Elephant’s Continually-updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon

Is it just me, or is the entire World Wide Web a resounding chorus of voices singing, “You are not alone”?

Everywhere I click, a film celebrity or Broadway star or viral TikToker is reminding me that I need not fear for I will never, ever, ever be alone.

Cue horror movie scream.

I know it’s meant to be reassuring, but as the self-proclaimed “Superhero of the Introverts,” that is literally the stuff of my nightmares.

One might think that introverts have it made in the shade during this quarantine phase, but that is only if you assume that we all live alone. Many of us share space with roommates and children and spouses. We have aging parents, extended family, and other loved ones whom we live with, commune with, and take care of.

And although we love them, trust me, we are fully aware that we are never alone.

That’s precisely the problem.

I don’t have to tell you that those of us born with a more introverted nature really thrive on alone time to gather energy; generate centeredness; and, in some cases, reclaim daily joy. But with life as we know currently on its head, so many introverts are struggling to hold it together.

So how can we continue to feed our souls during the Corona-crisis lockdown? How can we survive without any time alone?

Having asked myself these same questions, I gathered some helpful tips to rescue myself and hopefully you too.

Here are seven ways introverts can more successfully navigate quarantining in close quarters with others:

1. Meditate

I know, I know. Now might not be the greatest time to pick up a new discipline, but hear me out. Beginning or further developing your ability to be present in the moment is invaluable. Especially right now.

Guided meditations can be done in less than five minutes. And even if that five minutes is, for some reason, interrupted, a mere 60 seconds of being aware of your breath can relax your mind and your body and feel like a mini-vacation.

My current favorite app to practice meditation with is called Balance. It is great for beginners, as it really walks you through the foundations of meditation and assimilates to your needs, schedule, and progress. Those who have practiced meditation before will also find value in this app, as it meets you exactly where you are.

2. Revamp Your Gratitude

We have all heard it: gratefulness begets blessings. It can begin to feel trite, but it is a cliché because it’s true.

If you already are a daily gratitude practicer, may I extend a further challenge to you? Rather than just listing in your mind or on paper several things that you’re grateful for, take a moment to think about why you’re grateful.

For example, if today you are grateful for the sunshine, go a step further and recognize that you may be grateful for the sunshine on your skin because it reminds you that you’re healthy or because it shows you that there’s something bigger than you are. Maybe you’re grateful for the sunshine because it reminds you of your hometown or a favorite memory.

Go deep with your gratitude. It’s soothing for the introverted soul.

3. Assert Boundaries

Because I’m a lot like you, I would much prefer to mow the lawn with a nail clipper than to have to speak up and assert boundaries—especially with the people I love.

Somehow, drawing a line in the sand feels manageable with coworkers or bosses because we can remain a bit distanced or clinical. There are simply fewer feelings involved. And we know, at the very least, that if we annoy Craig from HR, we can simply file it under “not my problem” once the clock strikes 5 p.m.

With spouses, children, extended family, and close friends, it’s a completely different story.

But consider this: it is unlikely that you are asking of them anything that you would not gladly do for them in return. That is because you value others’ desires and well-being. This is the time that I admonish you to value your well-being just as much.

I challenge you to think of one instance in which you can set a time limit, say “no,” or set some other clear boundary that would improve your quality of life during quarantine.

Do you need to ask someone dear to you to consume content or watch Netflix using headphones rather than blasting it in the house? Do you need to excuse yourself from a group or family activity five minutes earlier, so that you can step out onto the porch for some fresh air alone? It’s up to you.

Although this is a difficult time for everyone, you are also allowed to take the space you need to manage your personal wellness.

4. Say No to Multitasking

When you have a moment alone—Take. It. In.

This is not the time to try to answer six voicemails while driving to the grocery store, catching up on world pandemic news, and simultaneously evening out your bangs.

Allow yourself the gift of being fully in the moment, because these moments are fewer and farther between than normal right now. Any time you have the luxury, do one task at a time—or do nothing at all for a moment. Be still. The world will wait.

5. Keep it All in Perspective

Funnily enough, this is similar to the advice I offered our extroverted friends who are struggling with social distancing at the moment.

This will not last forever.

We are living in a pressure cooker right now. That’s right, we are stewing in more ways than one. Emotions are heightened, stress is increased, and the temptation to feel like life has never been more exhaustingly miserable is ever present. If you are scrounging for time alone on top of all this, please remember that this unprecedented period will shift into a new phase.

No one can say precisely when. However, as we move through the current crisis, you will become more and more practiced at finding methods to soothe your inner introvert until lockdown is lifted and we find our way to our new normal.

6. Forgive Yourself

If you have been exasperated, furious, emotional, withdrawn, on edge, or simply sad, all of that is 100 percent normal.

It is part of being in crisis. I officially relieve you of your duties of doing this “Corona Crisis Thing” perfectly. Life coach and internet personality Michael Buckley posted recently, “There’s no trophy at the end for who quarantined the best.”

So in the sweet moments where you have time to retreat from the world, do not spend one millisecond of that time beating yourself up for not being energetic enough, or extroverted enough, or enough enough.

You are enough.

7. Turn down the volume

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to highlight that there are a ton of things in this world that we cannot control. However, let me point you in the direction of some things you can control.

There are ways to turn down the noise in your atmosphere so that it goes from shrieking freight train level down to a manageable hum:

  1. Regulate your content consumption. If you notice that you don’t want to be watching something anymore, turn it off—be it mid-sentence or even two seconds before the end. If you’re done, be done.
  2. Clean up your social media feeds. Hide the people on Facebook who are adding to the noise in your life and highlight those who bring you peace. The “unfollow” button is not for haters. It’s for people who love themselves enough to be intentional with what they consume.
  3. I even find that turning down the literal volume on my computer or speaking at a lower volume as well as asking conversation partners if they can bring it down just a little makes my little introverted heart so happy and comfortable. There are many ways you can bring the noise level down. You’re in control.

We Can Do This

Introversion is a beautiful thing, but it’s not necessarily always an easy thing. The current Corona crisis has taught me, however, that there are infinite and ingenious ways to continue to feed my soul, even in times of chaos.

And even more than that, it is absolutely worth it to find ways to fill my tank—because I am worth it.

Dear introverts, you are worth it.

Wishing you health, love, and delicious mini-moments of solitude as we navigate toward our new normal.

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