How are extroverts and introverts different in their road to recovery as we get back to our professional lives post-COVID-19? asks Dr. Frank Chow, workplace Mental Health expert, 2OPHealth.
The concept of extroversion and introversion have been around in psychology for a long time. Most of us are familiar with the terms and we may even have categorised the people we know as extroverts and introverts – or maybe ourselves.
A recent study by The Black Dog Institute found that 78% of respondents stated their mental health worsened since the COVID-19 outbreak. Social media deemed COVID-19 restrictions and work from home (WFH) mandate an introvert’s paradise. While some thrive and others don’t in the new WFH environment, how are extroverts and introverts different and what are their mental struggles and sentiments post-COVID-19?
Extroverts are generally individuals who are outgoing, talkative and full of energy. Extroverts thrive in social environments and being around others. They are usually more motivated with the outside world and rely on external rewards and cures.
In this WFH climate, extroverts are longing to return to life as we know it, missing the daily interaction with colleagues and friends. While it may suggest that extroverts handle the pandemic better than expected, by no means are they are immune to anxiety or stress when it comes to working from home.
Upon return, extroverts will have the tendency to get too excited and overcompensate for the lack of interactions and therefore, neglect hygiene requirements or social distancing, but feel paranoid afterward.
Advice if you are an extrovert:
Be mindful of your words, sometimes it’s easy to unintentionally overshare or discuss insensitive topics when you’re excited. Be aware and responsible with how you compensate, try not to overcompensate and celebrate excessively. Don’t go overboard with short-term relief with long-term effects such as drugs and excessive consumption of alcohol. Be sure to take care of your physical health as it affects your mental state, wash your hands, adhere to social distancing rules and be mindful of others when it comes to social interactions.
Introverts sit on the other end of the spectrum from extroverts. Individuals who are introverts are generally more reserved. They focus more on inner-activity and ideas, being alone and having time for themselves give them energy while being in the middle of a crowd can drain their energy. Introverts are more sensitive to external interaction compared to extroverts.
In the road to recovery, introverts will find it harder to reintegrate and resume to an office environment. Some will experience elevated fear and anxiety to return. Introverts tend to bottle up their frustration and build up more anxiety and agitation as they return back to work. With limited face-to-face communication with people during quarantine, introverts might get more anxious when they resume to normal life where they have to talk to their colleagues or boss at work face-to-face, they find it harder to make small talk as they feel awkward and sometimes are at a loss for words.
Introverts may respond to this by avoiding social situations and not participating in activities. They might get more sensitive and misinterpret what is being said to them.
Advice for introverts
Like all things in life, if you bottle it up, it will eventually explode. Don’t bottle up your fear, anxiety and frustration thinking that it will somehow disappear. Be aware of how you feel and where you are in this post-pandemic journey.
Everyone has a different pace to adapt back to life post-COVID-19, some faster than others. If you find it hard to quickly adapt back, pace yourselves, take a step back and make a plan. Talk to your manager or boss so that they are aware of your situation. Know when and how to turn for support, there are resources and professionals out there able to help you make sense of your situation.
Extroversion and introversion sit on two opposite ends of a spectrum. It is not as binary as we think it is as there are numerous other ways to describe an individual. It is, however, important to be self-aware of your own traits and things that work for you. Whether it is how you react to situations or how these situations affect you.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, social distancing and isolation from friends, family and your usual routines will likely present some mental health challenges. However, there is power in understanding yourself and where you sit in the introvert and extrovert spectrum, as it gives you the ability to be mindful of your actions, self-regulate your emotions and adapt your behaviour accordingly.