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Should you do more or less in isolation?

There are a lot of articles and videos going around right now about how you should use your time during isolation, some are saying pick up a hobby or do some self-development to come out of isolation a better version of yourself. Other articles and videos say do less, take some time to relax stop trying to fill all your hours. With all these ideas and opinions how do you actually know which one to do? I have some thoughts on this that might be helpful if you’re trying to figure which one is right for you, it may come down to whether your introverted or extroverted.

Personally I think both solutions are right for everyone but to varying degrees. If you’re anything like me (an introvert) you are never lost for things to do! There’s always a subject you’re interested in learning or a task that could be completed or even something that could be reorganised for maximum efficiency. Prior to lockdown you may have had a list of things you wanted to do but were always drained from your busy week of constantly engaging with the world, the motivation may have been there but the energy wasn’t. Now that we’re inside more and most likely socialising less we actually have more energy than we normally would to commit to all those things we want to do but can’t give energy to, for the introvert this is the world we were built for. Something I’ve been working on myself for the past 2ish years is learning to be comfortable on my own, not literally being on my own because that’s no problem at all but learning to be with my thoughts without distractions. Another way I heard this same thought being phrased recently is we need more “bored time” which is time separated from external stimulation like phones and TV to let our mind wonder so we can let our brain process and come up with new thoughts and ideas. This time is different to meditation and mindfulness, it’s not about trying to separate your mind from your thoughts it’s just about letting your mind does what its designed to do which is thinking. If you are this person that is shocked when someone says they are bored because “there are so many things to do! Even at home!” then maybe you need to put sometime in your schedule to be bored and let mind relax and wonder to avoid taking in too much external stimulation to avoid overload and burnout.

On the other hand I have been speaking to a few friends recently who are absolutely HATING this time inside, sure there are many things to do but there’s no motivation or maybe there is motivation but they’re lacking energy to do anything. My friend you maybe an extrovert! Extroverted people need social interaction to feel energised and have enough stimulation in their lives, currently extroverts are living the lives that most introverts are faced with on a regular basis, a world not built for them. Isolation while and incredible for an introvert is creating a major problem for extroverts, they now are in place where they have to figure out how to meet their needs when they can’t go out a be with other people in person.

After discussing a few ideas with my extroverted friends about what would be the best solution for them to meet their needs is to take on a new hobby but create an online group with your friends so each week they can do part of the hobby together and create that energy they need to do more tasks. This could even be applied to self – development where you create a group with your friends and weekly catch ups to talk about what you’re working on and what your goals are. For an extroverted person it seems like a good solution is to do more but create a group around it so that they don’t fall down the slippery slop that leads them into very real mental health issues. For an extrovert not having enough social interaction can lead them into low mood and depression which they run the risk of right now if not acted on, unlike the introvert where in our normal lives having too much social interaction can lead them into exhaustion, burnout and depression.

With all this being said it’s a mix and balance for everyone we’re not all 100% either introverted or extroverted, it’s very much a spectrum and we have different needs. I can never say enough that this is literally the best time for all of us to be doing some self - development by figuring out what our needs are. For some self – development maybe doing less so that we don’t overload ourselves and for others it may be doing more so that we don’t feel the negative effects of social isolation.

It truly is a tough time that we are facing but it can be used for good, my hopes are we use this time productively whatever productive means to you. I hope that the introverts of the world are extending their compassion the extroverts struggling right now to give them some of your time and energy to brighten their day and when this is all over that the extroverts of the world extend their compassion to the introverts who live in a world not made for them and not pressure them to go out when they’re tired.. no, it won’t make us feel better :)

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