Personality Types While Quarantining and Building Resilience

Collectively, we are living through a global pandemic. Personally, each of us may be responding very differently to this collective experience. Given your personality and preferences, how are you coping? Is this very different than a person you are sheltering in place with?  Your partner, roommates, parents, and child(ren) may be having different responses and reactions to your own. How then can these differences be reconciled within the same quarantined household?

Some of the main differences seem to be between extroverts and introverts. At the beginning of the quarantine, there were many memes circulating around the internet proclaiming that introverts forced to stay at home felt like they were finally living their best life.  Freed from forced social interactions and seemingly unnecessary conversations! Extroverts, on the other hand, were missing these encounters and filling their time reaching out to friends for Zoom happy hours and phone chats.

According to a Washington Post article by Jelena Kecmanovic:

People with certain psychological characteristics are more vulnerable than others to the effects of staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, what works best for one personality type might not be helpful to another. As a psychologist, I see the differences in how people adjust to the challenges of isolation, constricted life, uncertainty and dramatic change. Two personality traits that seem to have especially strong effects on people’s current functioning and household disagreements are extroversion, though introverts can also have issues, and perfectionism.

If you live with people who have different personalities from you, your needs might clash at times. The differences can become exaggerated during the pandemic because everybody is more stressed. “As an extrovert, I want to chat a lot about our current crisis, but my husband is introverted and, after a shift in the hospital, prefers quiet,” McGinley said. 

Forced togetherness can exacerbate tensions. “Since my extroverted roommate is now working from home, it’s been very hard to reconcile our preferences, like her love of loud music,” Wax said. The key is to talk openly about what you need, make a plan to compromise and check with each other frequently. How do you make a plan? “Bring awareness to how your day goes and identify frustration points — they are usually predictable. Then make a simple, doable plan for how you are going to deal with these situations,” Gillihan suggested.

No matter your personality type and preferred method of coping, the pandemic has taught all of us the importance of focusing on our own mental resilience.  Resilience is a skill that can be cultivated by noticing our own thoughts and separating from the non-beneficial ones in order to rebalance. Here are three tips to help you build your resilience:

Calm your mind
The OITE offers Mindfulness Meditation sessions each week. Carve out some time in your week to pause, reflect, and breathe. Check out OITE’s Upcoming Events to see the schedule.

Move your body
The NIH Recreation and Wellness are offering many workout classes virtually. If online classes aren’t your thing, go out for a walk/run/bike ride and find a way to get your endorphins pumping.

Connect compassionately with others
The OITE is offering weekly resilience groups on a variety of topics, including: anxiety and depression, preparing for the unknown, dealing with parental guilt, etc. The topics change weekly so check out the Upcoming Events for offerings that might be of interest to you.

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