Whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, these strategies will help you navigate these uncharted waters.
The concept of extroverts vs. introverts has taken off in pop culture, but at times the distinction can seem a bit overblown. When it comes down to it, all of us need some time alone, and all of us need some time with friends. It’s just a question of which one gives us more energy and motivation.
Extroverts are energized by being around other people, while introverts recharge from time alone. For both, it can be difficult to meet these days when we’re in self-isolation. Both extroverts and introverts probably miss seeing friends and going out. Introverts, however. may struggle most with getting alone time at home when others are around 24/7, while extroverts may feel lonely and listless when they can’t see their friends or have their usual levels of social interaction.
Luckily there are ways to plan for alone time and socializing during quarantine. It takes a little extra effort, but the pay-off in your peace and happiness will be well worth it.
How to get enough alone time as an introvert
These strategies should help. If you have another idea, leave it in the comments!
Get up early
I can feel some of you cringing as you read this. No one likes to cut short their sleep by even a few precious minutes. But if you can get to bed earlier and wake up even 10 or 15 minutes earlier than your family, starting your day in quiet will help you feel peaceful all day long. Think of it as a heroic minute to seize the day.
Take advantage of the quiet at night
After the kids or roommates head to bed, it’s tempting to flop down on the couch and zone out with Netflix. And sometimes, a little mindless entertainment is what you need. But if you can take 20 or 30 minutes to quietly pray or meditate, you will feel restored and refreshed in a way that no amount of screen time can do. Light a candle and ask Christ to fill you with the peace only He can give as you endure this time of crisis. You might also find refreshment in creating something with your hands, like sewing, painting, woodworking, or another craft.
Communicate with your family and put a plan in place
It’s a very hard thing we are all going through right now, even in a best-case scenario. Talk with your family or roommates about what the plan will be if you urgently need a break. You might go for a short drive or a walk, your spouse might take the kids out for a drive or walk, or you and your roommates might coordinate an alternating schedule for using the kitchen or common spaces. Think through your options ahead of time so you’re not trying to come up with ideas when you’re feeling at your wit’s end.
Spend time outside
Being outside is regulating and calming for anyone. The outdoors can also keep your kids interested and content for a long time so you’re able to catch a breather. Sitting in the backyard, or the balcony if you live in an apartment, offers a change of scenery to help you get through the day.
Take an extra-long shower
They say a cure for a bad mood is to “go outside or get in water” — and even the bathtub counts. If all else fails, lock the door of the bathroom and run a hot shower or bath. Tell yourself, “This too shall pass,” and take deep breaths for a minute so you can regain the calm you need to get through the rest of the day.
How an extrovert can get enough social time
Here’s where I lay my cards on the table: I’m about as extroverted as a person can be, and while my introverted husband has been craving alone time, I’m missing my friends so much I could cry. This is a lonely time for many, and extroverts in particular are feeling it. Here’s what I’m doing to keep the blues at bay.
Visit from the car
About once a week, I load up my kids in the car and drive over to a friend’s house, or a friend drives to mine. My kids and I stay in the car while my friend stands outside her front door. We wave, call hello to each other, and chat for a few minutes, from well over 6 feet away. It’s not much, but seeing and talking to an adult other than my husband gives me a boost to get through the next few days. One group of women have taken this idea to the next level, with a coordinated hang-out in an empty parking lot.
Visit through the window or glass door
This idea has really taken off as a way to visit with loved ones while respecting physical distancing. One young woman in North Carolina shared the news of her engagement with her grandfather through the window of his nursing home, a man in Minnesota visits his elderly father every day and sets up a chair outside his window for a long chat, and a woman in the UK took her children to visit her grandparents through their glass door. It’s a good substitute for getting together during this tough time.
Schedule nightly phone calls
After two weeks of feeling increasingly lonely, I had the idea to start reaching out to long-distance friends and scheduling a phone conversation with a different person each night. I’m so glad I’ve started doing this! It helps my spirits so much to commiserate and share ideas with friends who are in the same boat, and I’m really loving the chance for an unhurried catch-up with friends I haven’t seen in a while.
Plan meet-ups on Zoom
I coordinate a local chapter of Well-Read Mom, and our meetings have moved to Zoom for the foreseeable future. I was kind of dreading the first meeting, thinking it would be a pale and paltry substitute for our lively in-person discussions, but I was pleasantly surprised at what a great conversation we had, and at how much it boosted my spirits. Now friends and I are planning regular “girls’ nights” over Zoom, so a group of us can get together and find some community and solidarity from afar.
Ask friends for music, book, and podcast suggestions
For all the hours in the day when you can’t phone a friend, I’ve found it helpful to reach out for recommendations of friends’ favorite media to listen to or read. I feel like we are together, in a small way, when I listen to a friend’s beloved song or read a book she treasures. Afterward you can discuss with your friend what you heard, and find new common ground.
How we can all remain at peace
The simplest advice is truly the best: If you are losing your peace, make time to pray, because God gives us His peace in abundance when we ask. I got a great reminder of this last week. In one of my nightly phone calls, I mentioned to a dear friend that I’d been feeling anxious and scattered. She gently asked if I was diligently making time to pray, and shared with me that she blocks out 30 minutes each night to listen to Gregorian chant and quietly converse with Our Lord.
Even as she runs a busy household with four small children and a husband with an intensely demanding job, she has felt constant peace, thanks to this wise habit. It’s easy to say we should pray, but it can be hard to put into practice. Yet it truly is the best thing any of us can ever do to maintain our sense of peace. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in between, spending time in prayer and finding strategies to connect with friends and get some alone time will help as you navigate these uncharted waters.