Updated: Apr 24
HOW WELL DO YOU COPE IN A CRISIS?
Many researchers expected people with introverted personalities to cope better during the lockdown and stay-at-home orders. This is because people with introvert tendencies cope well in their own company. Extroverts on the other hand need social connections to thrive.
But studies conducted over the last two years have proved the opposite. Extroverts coped much better during the early phases of lockdown. Introverts took much longer to adjust but did better as time went on. These unexpected results have led people to ask – which personality traits are the best for coping during a crisis.
ADAPTING TO THE NEW NORMAL
It is important to remember that everyone has been affected by the lockdowns irrespective of their personality types. Understanding personality traits can help us recognise when someone may be at risk and offer appropriate coping solutions. Extroverts tend to do well in social situations and come alive when they interact with others. The long periods of social distancing may have created additional stress for extroverts. Research suggests that this personality type may find the return to normality, especially the reconnection with friends and co-workers a relief. Introverts find social situations draining. They may need more time to adjust as society begins to open up again. Studies found that some people thrived when they worked from home, drawing strength from their own company or with just a limited number of close family around them. The idea of going back to the office may cause anxiety or trigger acute stress responses.
CHALLENGES TO CONSIDER
As society re-opens people will face many challenges irrespective of their personality traits. But there will also be something for everyone to look forward to as the impact of the pandemic eases and more people get vaccinated. Personality plays a role in how people feel about safety precautions. Studies suggest that extroverts have a more optimistic outlook, which can make them less likely than introverts to follow health precautions. Recognising this can help extroverts to be considerate of their more cautious introvert colleagues.
Many people felt lonely or isolated during the pandemic. It will take a while to get back to normal and these feelings and experiences will not disappear overnight. Depression and anxiety remain high, and symptoms like lying awake, comfort eating, worrying about the future, or low motivation are likely to persist. Introverts, in particular, may take a little while to reconnect but extroverts and ambiverts, or people with an equal balance of extrovert and introvert traits, are expected to find it easier to rebuild relationships with co-workers and friends.
HOW RELAXATION CAN HELP
Change causes uncertainty and many people are likely to feel stressed as we transition towards the new normal. It can help to remember that everyone’s emotional resilience will be low, and we ought to be forgiving of raw tempers, snappish retorts, or a lower than usual tolerance. These feelings and behaviours are a consequence of living through a challenging and frightening time. Take time for yourself, get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, and perhaps exercise a little. It is also good to practice relaxation techniques. Just ten minutes a day of deep relaxation can restore your equilibrium. Mindfulness or self-hypnosis audios provide an easy and affordable way to relax. Learning to use self-hypnosis can also build your emotional resilience and help you see things more clearly. Many people have used this period to join courses for personal exploration or to learn more about how the mind works. Another strategy is to remember other challenges that you have encountered in your life and recall how you coped and worked your way through them. This simple exercise creates an optimistic mindset and naturally lifts your spirits.
BENEFITS OF TALKING
It may be a cliché but talking about how you feel can help. The pandemic was a global experience and talking about your experience with a colleague or co-worker helps people to feel connected and restores feelings of empathy. If you feel able this is a good opportunity to reach out to others and help them to make the transition to the new normal and renewed social interaction.
DEVELOPING A COPING PERSONALITY
Not everyone can cope all the time. Talking to a friend helps but if you find yourself unable to feel the joy or getting tearful several times daily, it may be time to seek help from a therapist. Another sign that you need help is lying awake at night or waking up very early every morning. There are many types of therapy available. Clinical hypnotherapy offers a combination of psychotherapy and relaxation techniques. It is safe, effective and many people find that just one session offers a rejuvenating and empowering experience. And an increasingly common option is virtual therapy. Virtual therapy offers a safe and private opportunity to see a therapist from the comfort of your own home. The therapy is conducted through a live virtual platform and research shows that it is as effective as in-person therapy. Both introverts and extroverts may need a little help as they adjust to the new normal. But irrespective of whether you see someone in a physical consulting room or via an online option, the most important criteria is to establish that your therapist is qualified to deal with your issues and offers you a safe, non-judgemental, and welcoming space.