How the Pandemic is Affecting Introverts
by Catherine Morris | December 3, 2020, updated about 1 month ago
However, it's very possible to embrace your introversion and find your healthiest self despite the stats.
It's hard to pin down introversion. It's commonly defined as what it's not, and often explained in relation to its opposite trait, extroversion. In basic terms, introverts draw their energy from time alone while extraverts take energy from the people around them. That's why extraverts thrive from prolonged social interaction while introverts become drained.
Despite the endless articles and memes about what it means to be an introvert, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there. Here's a few things introverts are not—they're not lonely book nerds, or shy hermits, or depressed shut-ins, or anxious worrywarts. Of course they may be those things as well, but the one is not reliant on the other.
“Introversion isn't necessarily being shy—there are people who are on TV who are introverts! It's not about that, it's about how we charge our batteries. Extraverts feel more energized around people, introverts go out in a crowd and it's draining. It can be almost painful,”
Maria Koropecky, is a life coach who specializes in helping introverts achieve their goals, and someone who is also an introvert.
"We have to have ways to go back to a safe place where we can recharge our batteries, and then we can process everything and be quiet. That's the difference.”
Leaning Into Your Introversion
Introversion and extroversion are fairly fixed personality traits and discernible from an early age. If you were the type of child who needed time alone while your siblings ran in dense packs, you almost certainly experience the same aversion to lots of social contact as an adult.
In a world that rewards extraverts, it's sometimes hard to be an introverted child, and that feeling of being different can linger into adulthood, causing a host of problems. Koropecky says she sees this frequently in her work and adds—
“So many introverts don't feel like they belong. Even in a group, they feel like they are on the edges of that group and don't fit in. We are so used to feeling like outsiders. I'm an introvert by nature, and I know what it’s like to go through life and just keep quiet and not speak up. As I've gotten older I've had enough of that. I am speaking my truth and finding my own voice. I want to help other introverts find their voice too and experience more of life.”
Koropecky's mission is to help dispel shame around introversion and to encourage people to embrace their personality traits, working with their nature rather than against it. She says—“I teach introverts to speak up because they have some real gems in there. When they do talk, what they have to say is usually very insightful and interesting. I get people past that block and see what happens. Introverts are often very creative. They are artists and writers and they have this work they have produced that is really amazing stuff.”
Self-expression isn't just a way of unleashing creativity for introverts, it can actually support their health.
A 2009 study from the Netherlands, which examined introverted heart patients, found that those with more introverted personalities had worse health outcomes, because they were less able to express negative emotions.
With stress playing a big role in disease of all kinds, it's essential that introverts have an outlet. Koropecky says—
“Don't hold it in. Do not repress your feelings. Speak with a close friend, or journal about it. Have a method to communicate what's going on with you. Introverts often have health issues like smoking, alcohol [abuse], emotional eating—they are just pushing who they are and what they want to say, down.”
A coach like Koropecky can help introverts establish their boundaries, set goals, and negotiate obstacles in a safe environment. She explains—
“Coaching is a creative conversation. It is a future based conversation about where you want to go. It is the bridge to get you from where you are now to where you can be. It’s very proactive and positive. We figure out how to reframe your beliefs so they do not have that anchor if they don't serve you. Then we look at action steps, and are ready to move forward.”
“I once had a woman with health issues who was very frustrated, she had a rash and it was affecting her confidence. After three months together she really blossomed, she was radiant. It was amazing to watch her transformation. She was able to express herself and talk to someone she trusted, it was so heartwarming to be a witness to that.”
The Pandemic’s Effects on Different Personalities
Koropecky has been coaching since 2015, but found her work taking a turn this year when the world went remote. She says going virtual hasn't diminished her business—on the contrary, she's now connecting with clients in the UK, Europe, India and beyond! She notes that consulting online is just as effective for clients as in person—“You quickly forget that you are remote and you just talk about whatever is going on and you try your best to be in the present moment.”
When the pandemic lockdowns first began, a lot of introverts welcomed the chance to stay home and recharge, but as the uncertainty became more permanent, something unexpected happened—studies now show that introverts are actually faring worse than extraverts, experiencing more anxiety, loneliness and/or depression.
When it comes to picking a support system, Koropecky has some words of advice—
“Meet a coach and if you like them and connect with them, see what they have to offer. Trust your intuition and shop around.”
Despite the increased isolation we've all encountered this year, Koropecky puts a positive spin on the pandemic in general and says most of her clients are doing well. “This is an amazing opportunity on so many levels. It gives people the time to reassess what they are doing with their lives—are you in the right relationship, job, city? Are you living your dream? It's a wake up call. We are usually on a 24 hour clock, but this pandemic is giving everyone a chance to say 'whoa, what’s going on?' It's putting our health at the forefront.”
It doesn't matter if you're an introvert, an extravert or somewhere in between-a-vert, Which Doctor practitioners can help you be your best self. If you're feeling lonely, anxious or uncertain in these challenging times, reach out to Maria Koropecky or one of our other qualified life coaches, therapists or counsellors to get guidance and support.
Catherine Morris is an award-winning journalist with a bad case of wanderlust and a passion for all things health and wellness. Originally from Northern Ireland, she worked as a news and feature writer for media outlets in the UK, South Africa, France and the Caribbean before settling in Canada. Catherine now lives in Alberta with her husband and rescue mutt and spends her time happily exploring the great outdoors with both.