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Surviving or Thriving? Enduring COVID-19 as an Introvert and Extrovert

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While millions across the United States follow government-mandated “stay home, stay safe” orders, adjusting to life indoors presents different scenarios for both introverts and extroverts – whether they live alone or have company.

Jason Moser, Michigan State University psychologist and director of MSU’s Clinical Psychophysiology Lab, says that during this time of stress and change, self-talk and meditation are helpful for both introverts and extroverts as they process the health crisis.

“Both should continue to find ways to stay active and exercise to keep them calm and boost immune functioning,” Moser said. “We are lucky it is spring and we can take advantage of open spaces for activity, as well as take advantage of the fact that open green spaces are calming and psychologically healing.”

Noting that combinations of techniques may help.

Here are some of Moser’s tips to combat added stress of the current health crisis for both personality types:

If you’re an extrovert…

“Staying connected and being active will likely be the most important things for these folks. Going for walks, exercising, and this could also be a time to tap into creativity.

“Luckily, staying connected is easy online now so making time to connect and debrief about stress as well as talk about other things in life will help.

“People are getting really creative with group chats and happy hours online so ‘the more the merrier’ can translate pretty well online. Even getting groups of friends together online to play board games or video games could make the connections more stimulating and dynamic.

“This may also be a time for some extroverts to post more content on their social platforms, make videos to share and such. It may be that such folks can do these in virtual groups on calls. Or, just getting out in small groups of folks that create a ‘pact’ to keep the circle closed to others can still practice good social distancing in areas where complete lockdowns haven’t occurred yet.

“And, yes extroverts can suffer from anxiety and depression so the above practices can have a knock-on effect on anxiety and depression as well — staying connected and active are very common and potent ways to combat both.”

If you’re an introvert…

“It does seem like introverts would find a good ‘fit’ in this kind of social distancing world. And, that may very well be the case.

“Introverts might find this a good time to connect with others in a way that is easier for them to do – from a distance, on their own time and by their choice.

“It might be that introverts actually become more extroverted as a result of connection being much more virtual for everyone.

“I think it’s still important for these folks to stay active and do what they can for themselves to stay physically and mentally healthy – even if it’s by themselves. If you notice that you’re starting to experience negative moods, it’s time to try a different activity.

“Time will tell how these events have an impact on introverts and broader society, so we’ll see.”

“Staying flexible and open will be important for us all,” Moser said. “I think for both types of personalities, it’s important to be mindful of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors and be sure they’re getting what they need, and staying physically and mentally healthy as they adapt to new circumstances.”

Caroline Brooks and  Jason Moser via MSUToday

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