Advice From An Introvert: 5 Tips to Survive Social Distancing

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During this time of crisis, while we’re fighting a global pandemic, Malaysians are now confined to their own homes to minimise contact with other people.

I need to say – what a time for introverts! It feels like we’ve been preparing for this our entire lives.

After all, we’ve had years of practising how to avoid people. All those weekends avoiding calls from friends to hang out are finally paying off!

But for the extroverts: If you’re panicking at the thought of a sudden lack of social life, don’t fret.

I’ve put together a guide that will help you survive the unfamiliar landscape of an introvert’s sheltered existence. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Exercise Using Household Objects

home workout with household items

If you think a Movement Restriction Order means you get to veg out on the couch binge-watching The Witcher, you might want to reconsider.

Exercise will trigger the release of mood-elevating endorphins. When I don’t get to do something active for too long I find myself getting moody and irritable.

While gyms are now shut, there are still many options for fitness. With a bit of creativity, many workouts can still be done with household items.

Yoga stretches and bodyweight exercises can be practised at home, and there are many good YouTube workouts that can guide you through your at-home fitness routine.

If you absolutely have to go out for a walk, try to maintain a distance of at least six feet away from other people.

It’s also good practice to shower and change out of your clothes once you get home to get rid of any stray microbes clinging to your clothes or skin.

2. Schedule An E-Meetup!

concall with friends

I work from home and early on, I fell into the trap of just going through the motions, without remembering to take a break.

After a while, I began to dread waking up and having to slog through the same monotony. To keep myself sane, I started scheduling one or two fun things a week to look forward to.

It doesn’t have to involve elaborate planning and can be as simple as a video hangout with friends or live-stream parties.

Sometimes it can even mean quickly nipping downstairs to pick up my favourite green tea gelato… or having food delivered from my favourite restaurant.

My partner and I also plan watch-lists on a shared productivity app.

On movie night, we pick one of the options on the list to watch together, usually while enjoying falafels from our favourite Lebanese restaurant.

3. Stick to a Sane Sleep Schedule

You might be tempted to sleep in or sleep late, as you’re now working from home.

However, when you don’t have a regular sleeping time, you’ll find yourself feeling increasingly lethargic and depressed.

Lack of sleep can negatively impact mental health, cause cognitive impairment, and worst of all it suppresses your body’s natural immune system.

Even if you don’t think you need as much sleep, your productivity – and health – will suffer.

4. Try Wearing “Going-out” Clothes at Home

Irene's work from home setup

Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean your routine needs to be disrupted.

Having a routine in place is essential for good mental health. Creating plans for the day and week will help you avoid feeling sluggish and unproductive.

In the midst of so much uncertainty, doing this helps you stay mentally grounded.

When I wake up in the morning, shower, and get dressed in my ‘going-out’ clothes, it puts me in the right headspace, even if I never set foot in a workspace.

It doesn’t even have to be full office wear — Wearing nicer clothes really does set the mood for work, even if it can feel strange to be overdressed at home.

Hanging out all day in your pyjamas or a tatty pair of unwashed sweatpants can quickly become demoralising.

On days I feel particularly uninspired I sometimes even put on light makeup!

5. Enjoy Time With Yourself

Irene Chan bullet journal

[The writer’s bullet journal. She is currently based in Thailand]

Amidst our hectic schedules and social dates, we’ve forgotten how to enjoy quality time with the most important person in our lives: Ourselves.

Remember Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)? Now you’re free from that feeling!

You now have more time to pursue the hobbies you may have put aside while focusing on your friends and family.

It can feel a bit weird to do things alone, at first.

But once you get the hang of it, it becomes very satisfying to be able to do things on your own time, at your own pace.

I write down tasks – both for work and personal life – so I can break them down into manageable blocks that don’t overwhelm me.

That way, I’ll have more time to work on my art, sewing projects, reading list, and focus on my writing.

Writing your thoughts down is helpful. It is therapeutic and offers you a way to track the small, positive changes in your life.

When you’re feeling negative or anxious, try to write about a positive thought instead. Steer your thoughts towards a happier place.

Empower yourself to change your own narrative!

Social distancing day-by-day keeps the virus away.

These are troubling times, but social distancing will help us protect each other.

Keep in mind that we are making this small sacrifice to keep people who are immuno-compromised away from harm, and reduce risk of transmission to those who don’t have the privilege of being able to self-isolate.

It can be a bit challenging at first, but with a little bit of creativity and the use of technology, we can all still find things to do and have interactions with our friends and family.

Stay safe and stay healthy. Together, we can do this!

Do you have other ideas on how to survive social distancing? Let me know in the comments!

For more stories like this, read: Introverts Aren’t Antisocial: 5 Things People Get Wrong About Us and How I Learned to Deal with the Crippling Loneliness of Being a Freelancer.

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Hi, I'm Irene, marketer-turned-freelance writer with a passion for shoes and stories. Acquiring good books and good boots is my lifetime obsession. When not writing for a living, I spend much of my time as a #crazyplantlady. Currently living in Bangkok with two pet rats (!!) and a long-suffering human.
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