Coping with Social Distancing
The Two Types of People Most Affected & the Top Three Coping Strategies for Each
This is a very uncertain time for each and every one of us. Regardless of our age, gender, socioeconomic status, location, or situation, there are questions weighing heavy on each of our hearts right now. We are wondering if we will stay healthy and if those we love will. We are wondering what will happen to those numbers in our bank accounts as days out of work extend on and on. We are wondering about our children, who aren’t in school and aren’t getting to celebrate milestones. We are wondering about our towns as the possibilities of businesses closing become more and more real.
For some, in addition to all of the above, the weight of social distancing is bearing down hard. As a licensed mental health counselor, there are two populations I see affected the most by this: extreme extroverts and those who thrive on structure to be at their best. Below are my top three recommendations for staying strong through social distancing for each of these two types of people.
Extroverts, you know who you are, and if you didn’t before social distancing, you certainly do now. You refuel and recharge from being around people. Social activities are something to look forward to, that you thrive on. Being around other people a large percentage of the time is not just a want, but a NEED.
If this is you, make sure you are doing the following during this trying time:
Use Technology to Connect
It is paramount for extroverts to try and REPLACE their lost in-person social interactions with as much social interaction over the phone, or other communication means, as possible. There is no substitute for talking and face-to-face contact for an extrovert, so make use of apps that are available to us like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom and MarcoPolo to talk to and see the faces of your friends and family.
Use Social Media and Messaging Apps
Extroverts need a LOT of social time. Between FaceTimes and MarcoPolos, stay connected with friends and family by sending pictures of your day, messaging back and forth, or even emailing. Pay attention, though, to not let social media cause more harm than good. Guard against feelings of FOMO or internal comparisons, and know when to dial back.
Write About Your Experiences
When you can’t be in person or on FaceTime with the people in your life, find your voice through writing. Start a blog, or add more of your own self-expression to your Instagram or Facebook posts. Telling your story, even just your inner workings and musings, will not only give your voice a place to live, but will speak to others who are feeling lonely and need a voice to hear during this time as well.
There are many reasons that some need more structure than others. Often structure helps for people who have difficulty with focus and attention. It also helps boost those who tend toward low-mood or depression. If you are finding yourself floundering during this time, struggling to organize your day and wrestling with overwhelm, confusion, low mood or lethargy, try these tips for making the best of this trying time:
Create and Impose Your Own Structure
Most days, we need to eat several times, shower and engage in basic personal hygiene tasks (yes, even when stuck at home), move our bodies, do household chores, engage in social behavior, and get some work done. Use a calendar app or a pencil and paper to create a schedule for your day. Set timers if you need to, or implement rewards to help you stick to your schedule.
Find an Accountability Buddy
Whether it’s someone who also needs structure, your super organized friend, or your boss, find someone who you can check in with throughout the day and week to make sure you aren’t the only person keeping an eye on whether or not you are staying on task.
Empower your Brain
There are many things we can do to support our brains in being their sharpest. Take breaks throughout the day to go for a mini walk or do yoga in the sunshine. Make sure you are powered up with a solid multi-vitamin and omega supplement. Use citrus or mint essential oils in the diffuser to maintain alertness and uplift the mood. Finally, stay properly fed and hydrated throughout the day, and avoid excess sugars, simple carbohydrates, and alcohol.
While we are all different, we are all in this together! We may be distant in body, but we can still feel near in spirit. Utilize these tips to ride out the weeks ahead and live your best life, even under the craziest of circumstances. As always, if you or someone you love needs additional support, never hesitate to reach out to a professional who can offer virtual support during this time.