How do you thrive in isolation? I’m not an expert in getting through an enforced period on my alone, I’m not professionally trained to advise people either. But I can tell you what works for me when I’m confined within four walls. Hopefully my tips will help those with similar personality types. So, if you’re an extrovert, an ambivert, or an omnivert, you might be interested in my strategy for getting through a period of isolation.
Extrovert? Ambivert? Omnivert?
Most people are familiar with the term ‘extrovert’. This word is used to describe somebody who is outgoing and feels happy around others. The other commonly used term is ‘introvert’, a word used to describe a shy, quiet person, who prefers to spend time alone. But what if you’re neither? Well perhaps you’re an ambivert or an omnivert. An ambivert is somebody whose normal behaviour is between introversion and extroversion. Whilst an omnivert is somebody that can be either at different times. All of these personalities may struggle to work out how to thrive in isolation, because being alone all of the time isn’t their preferred way to live.
I’m a self-proclaimed extrovert. I get my energy from those around me. So, staying at home isn’t something I find easy. I know that many of my fellow extroverts can relate to this. Some of my ambivert and omnivert friends have also struggled with the feeling of isolation. Their inner introvert is quite content with being alone at home, but how do they get their extrovert kicks?
I realised a couple of months ago that I’ve never shut myself away on purpose before. Not for any length of time. But, realistically, this could happen to any one of us, without warning. We could become ill, injure ourselves, lose our job, run out of money, or we may have to stay home to help manage a pandemic. Things can change drastically, without warning, for any one of us. Do you want to know how to thrive in isolation? I do think it’s possible, providing you take the right steps.
How to thrive in isolation
1) Make the most of what you can do
At the time of writing, the world is in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. The UK is in lockdown and the government hasn’t issued a time limit for exercise, but Gove recommended that runners take 30 minutes per day and walkers take an hour. I’d advise that you do try to escape your own four walls.
The same applies if you’re stuck at home for another reason. You should get out of the house as much as you reasonably can. Just seeing other people going about their business might make you feel better and less alone.
2) Bring some structure to your day
Joe Wicks has been PE teacher to the nation since the UK’s schools closed. He has been teaching kids via his YouTube channel each morning. Now despite not quite being within his target audience, as I’m 34 and not eight, I have been enjoying these workouts. I also like the fact that they’re at the same time each day, as it’s an easy way of bringing a bit of structure into my life. I’ve also overhauled my working-from-home schedule to make sure I’m making the most out of my working days.
Not everybody needs structure, but I find that it helps me. I need to create cornerstones for my week. Your cornerstone could be a phone call with your mum, or baking banana bread every Wednesday. It doesn’t matter what it is but try adding something in and repeating it each week. You might find it helps.
3) Find alternative ways to escape the house
I usually go out, meet pals, go to the office, go shopping, go for a coffee, eat out, swim with a pal. If this extrovert is invited somewhere, she’s there. However, when you’re stuck at home, you have to find alternative ways to escape.
I’ve been furloughed from work, which means that I have time at home with my partner and toddler, with no real means of escape. So, I have decided to use the time to develop this blog, whilst tucked away in our home office. I hope that my blog will be useful to somebody and that the process will help me to hone some new skills. If nothing else, it gives me a platform to communicate with others…
4) Connect with your friends and family
This isn’t the 1940’s, we don’t have to rely on snail mail to connect and it’s important to utilise the tools we have. There are loads of different ways to interact with your loved ones. WhatsApp, Facebook and Zoom, to name but a few of the options.
Over the past few weeks, I have taken part in video calls, interactive quizzes and Slimming World meetings. Where there’s an extrovert, an ambivert, or an omnivert wanting to interact, there’s a way!
Of course, you can have too much of a good thing, especially if you’re an omnivert or an ambivert, so it might be advisable to spread the socialising out.
5) Take it a day at a time
I could sit here, worrying that I’m going to lose my job, or that my wedding in August won’t go ahead. But instead, I’m going to suppress those thoughts. I know that, as a family, we will be able to keep the roof over our head and that Keir and I will get married eventually. Hopefully it will be in August 2020, but if it isn’t, it’s not the end of the world. It’s all going to work out as it should and I can only control the day ahead, so there’s no point in speculating about the future. As difficult as that may be.
I find that avoiding consuming too much media and keeping negative people at arm’s length helps me to contain my worries. As an extrovert, I feed from the energy of others, so it’s important to keep the vibe as positive as possible when I’m finding life a challenge. That doesn’t mean you have to cut off negative people completely. But I find that it’s important to balance the negative with the positive.
6) Be kind to yourself
It’s okay to have a bad day or to feel lonely. Yes, there are others in worse situations, but your worries are valid. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and it’s important now, more than ever to cut yourself some slack.
It’s also fine if you haven’t worked out how to thrive in isolation, because sometimes surviving the day is enough.
7) Give yourself some down time
I love my partner and my son dearly, but I need some time away from them. I also need some time away from the screen. And even though I’m an extrovert, I think it’s important to spend some time alone and to be comfortable in my own company.
This tends to reduce that overwhelmed feeling and it also saves my eyes. So have a bath, indulge in some self care with a new beauty product, or go for a stroll. Do whatever you need to do to give yourself a break.
8) Explore a new hobby, or revisit an old one
Have you ever wanted to learn the guitar? What about a foreign language? Are you a crochet whizz? Or is photography more your bag? There’s an online resource to help you to learn anything and everything, so why not use the downtime to explore something new? Or you could pick up a hobby that you haven’t had the time for recently.
It might be helpful to set some goals around your new hobby, so you can track your successes. Challenge Clare has some great tips for setting and achieving goals.
9) Eat and drink well
When you can’t do much else, it’s easy to turn to food as a comfort. But will that chocolate really make you feel better?
Drinking in the evening is also an easy trap to fall into when your pals have dialled you into a video call. But how will you feel the next morning? Probably not great. Especially if, like me, you don’t have an off button!
Is it worth it?
How do you thrive in isolation? It might seem like an impossible task. But if any of the tips listed above help to improve your mood even slightly, then I think it’s worth doing.