I’m an Extrovert—Here’s How I’m Surviving Quarantine

This "new normal" will never feel normal, but these five things are helping me feel a little more at peace during the pandemic.

Karla Walsh extrovert quarantine coronavirusCourtesy Karla Walsh

Any other personality-test fiends out there? While my results vary from year to year in StrengthsFinder and DiSC assessment, no matter how many times I retest, I am a certified, tried-and-true Myers-Briggs ENFJ and an enneagram type 2 wing 3. It means I’m a protagonist and a host—I believe in support and love to share energy with others more than nearly anything else in the world. In short, I’m an extrovert. In case you were wondering, this is what your Myers-Briggs personality type really means.

Pre-coronavirus Karla found joy in nightly dinner parties or outings with pals, daily spin classes with a room full of other fitness fanatics, and frequent drop-in visits to loved ones to let them know I was thinking of them. All that changed this March, when the most selfish (rather than selfless) thing I could possibly do is share space with another human.

Now, 24 days since I’ve been within six feet of another person, thanks to some epic social distance–style supermarket-dodging and holing up in my apartment nearly 24/7, I’ve had several people text, call, or email to check in on me.

“Hey, I’m an introvert and this is hard, lonely, and weird. How are you holding up?”

My answer: “Surprisingly, well, all things considered! I have one pretty sizable self-care agenda.”

Turns out, a few of the things I did in my not-so-extroverted hours as a 30-something single woman working from home have come in handy as we try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As for the other stuff, I’m adapting as best I can. Here’s what I’ve been doing, and I hope it helps you, too.

Daily calls with Mom

While I haven’t—and shouldn’t—experience physical touch for the foreseeable future until this virus has calmed down, apparently I’m subconsciously seeking some out each day when I dial my mom for a check-in chat. A phone call with your mom is as hormonally mood-boosting as a physical hug, according to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Child Emotion Lab. (In case you missed it, there are loads of scientifically-backed health benefits associated with hugging—when we’re not social distancing.) Not only are these calls emotionally soothing; it’s also a therapeutic way for us both to let out the lingering worries and stresses we’re letting fester inside. We share everything from tears to giggles to vent sessions, often all in the span of 15 minutes.

Zoom dates

Just because my happy hours and dinner crawls across town have been put on hold doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to recreate a similar vibe virtually with friends and coworkers. At first, I replaced texts with video chats. Then I realized I craved a bit more normalcy in my social routine. So, last week, I scheduled a handful of virtual happy hours and dinners with pals, where we’d each pour a glass or order curbside carryout from the same local restaurant and “share a meal.” Supporting a vital small business while catching up on life? Win-win. (Or should I say wine-win?) FYI, here’s how to order from your favorite fast-food restaurants right now.

Yoga and YouTube workouts

The gym where I teach and take spin classes six days a week has been closed for a month, so I’ve taken to in-home workouts for similar stress release. I start the day with a 40- to 60-minute circuit or strength workout from POPSUGAR Fitness or Sydney Cummings (both free on YouTube!). Then I give myself a daily goal of at least 30 minutes of yoga using the Down Dog App (free through May 1). Since I can chip away at the yoga in little stretch nuggets, it makes the movement totally easier to achieve and keeps my work-from-home computer-tensed muscles from getting too stiff. It’s just one of the productive things you can do when you’re stuck inside.

Lots of baking therapy

When I’m not quite sure how to process my emotions and simply need to foster a sense of control, I bake. Right now, I’m pretty much baking my way through quarantine. Cakes, cookies, pies—there’s something magical about the zen-like process of stirring, rolling, and slicing.

After taste-testing, since a woman can’t live on sugar alone, I package up most of my goodies, add a handwritten note, and drop off care packages to the front doors of those I admire and appreciate. From a pal who just scored a new job to a coworker making dozens of face masks to protect essential workers to a local mom who’s struggling with the new work-life mix, a surprise doorstep delivery feels almost like I can share a real hug with them.

Deep breaths

Karla Walsh extrovert quarantineCourtesy Karla Walsh

Above all else, the one thing that has helped me maintain a level head and a pensive-yet-positive mindset throughout this solo isolation period: grace. In moments of overwhelm, I take a big deep breath and give myself permission to feel what I need: grief, gratitude, fear, anxiety, hope, happiness, worry or guilt.

There is no test that can categorize us into what we should be doing or feeling right now, and that can feel a little unsettling. But it’s also freeing. Now is the time to reassess what you miss, what you want to leave behind, and how you want to allocate your energy moving forward. I’ve come to find out that I’m just as good of a protagonist for myself as I am for others—and I’m definitely going to take that energy with me beyond 2020.

Next, find out how a therapist is staying sane during the coronavirus quarantine.

Take a look at our Coronavirus Guide to discover more ways to stay sane, keep your family safe, and make the most of your together time.

Karla Walsh
Karla Walsh is a freelance writer, editor and restaurant brand manager based in Des Moines, Iowa, where she reports on fitness trends, wellness research, psychology, and healthy recipes. She is a level one sommelier and is certified by AFAA for group fitness and NASM for personal training. Her writing has been published on ReadersDigest.com, Shape.com, EatThis.com, WomensHealthMag.com, EatingWell.com, BHG.com as well as in Runner’s World, Better Homes & Gardens, AllRecipes and more. Find her on Instagram @karlaswalsh.