Social media consultant Yumi (not her real name) found a new remote job and gave birth to her son during quarantine. The self-confessed introvert said she thought being busy at home during was an ideal set-up, until she started feeling lonely.
Before COVID, Yumi said she was "choosy" when it comes to meeting people. Now, she misses her family and friends who are not in the same bubble as her. It's a valid feeling, psychologists said, as introverts also need to socialize.
Over 500 days of varying quarantines have taken a toll on people's mental health. It also opened conversations on self-care and how to nurture relationships when physical distancing is the norm.
"I started to miss my family who are in Bulacan, and my friends who are in NCR Plus. Tapos gusto ko rin sana to travel, but we choose to stay home" Yumi told reportr.
Yumi fears prolonged isolation would make her more socially awkward. She also wonders how it could affect her one-year-old baby, who spent Christmas and New year's in isolation.
To be an introvert under lockdown
Research psychologist Matthias Mehl said introverts would be better positioned to weather extended time at home compared to extroverts, a Reuters report published in April 2020 said.
However, clinical psychologist Joseph Marquez said that being an introvert does not necessarily mean that a person doesn't want to be around other people.
"Interested siya (introvert) on the self looking inward. Though people perceive it as something reserved, tahimik lang, 'yung introverts they spend their energy through self-reflection mostly," Marquez told reportr.
On the other end of the spectrum, extroverts obtain gratification outside the self. They prefer to be surrounded with other people. Are they more affected by the lockdown than introverts? Marquez said the toll of the quarantine doesn't distinguish between the two personality traits.
For introverts, it just means they have more time for themselves compared to pre-pandemic times, which can be liberating at times but could also lead to excessive negative thinking, psychologist Mary Jane Guba told reportr.
Individuals who suppress their anxieties or worries may be less likely to communicate or share their burdens, which may result in loneliness, according to a study published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
According to a study from the University of Wollongong School of Psychology in Australia, introversion "predicted more severe loneliness, anxiety, and depression experienced as a function of COVID19-related circumstantial changes".
The pandemic affects everyone
Dealing with the effects of prolonged isolation does not depend on introversion or extroversion, Guba said. Coping mechanisms are determined by the quality of relationships that an individual has, she said.
In the Philippines, about 25% of respondents in a 2020 Department of Health survey said they were feeling moderate to severe anxiety, while about 17% reported feeling moderate to severe depression and other psychological conditions due to the pandemic.
So how do we deal with prolonged isolation? Guba shared these tips:
- Connect with people you trust
- Establish a daily routine and do activities you enjoy
- Seek professional help when needed
Marquez also advised people to reach out to friends who could be suffering in silence. They are the ones who stopped seeking out their friends, the ones who reply with a thumbs up or "OK" when it's not their usual response, or the ones who avoid conversations altogether. Reaching out to them can save a life.
"Being able to connect with people we trust and whom we can share our concerns and feelings with during this pandemic is important," said Guba.
(Help is here. Call the National Center For Mental Health 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 1553. Globe or TM subscribers may also call 0966-351-4518 or 0917-899-8727 (USAP). Smart, Sun, or TNT subscribers may call 0908-639-2672. For regional hotlines, you may visit bit.ly/DOHhelplines.)