How To Actually Enjoy Staying Home All The Time, From An Introvert
As my circle and I have been checking in with each other throughout this unfolding coronavirus pandemic, my introverts acknowledge—apart from the panic buying and health-related fears—staying in has been pretty awesome.
Can't go to bars and clubs? No biggie. Working from home? Yes, please. With COVID-19, staying in, quarantining, and working from home is becoming the new normal. In a somewhat facetious way, we are living in a germaphobic, introverted, creative person's dream world.
While we admire and respect the wiring of extroverts and ambiverts, feeling at peace (and joyful) at home is one topic introverts are experts in. So if you're struggling with the time inside, follow these tips straight from introvert psychology:
Repeat the mantra "I am profiting on time and energy."
Think of it like this: You have access to people all around the world, without even having to travel! Traveling to and from a location not only takes up a large portion of time, but it also incinerates energy. You save on both time and energy by staying home and doing all your work and social meetings online. All I need is a five-minute buffer between appointments to debrief from one meeting, jot down my goals and intentions for the next, and repeat the process. With minimal interruptions, I'm actually profiting on both time and energy.
This applies to fitness, too. When I have 15-minute breaks between appointments, I slot in kettlebell swings and pushups—the only equipment I own is one kettlebell and my bodyweight. As for running? I just put on my shoes, and off I go. No need to travel to the gym.
I finish my days significantly more energized and accomplished.
Create zones in your home.
Whether it's a makeshift office or a space for self-care, try to create separate zones in your home. That way, you'll avoid working from the comfort of your bed, no matter how tempting. Working from the bedroom can exacerbate insomnia and lead to poor sleep quality, all of which can also increase personal relationship issues. (When you're exhausted, you're cranky!)
That being said, when the whole family is home or when space is simply limited, the idea of physical zones can be a luxury. In such cases, the dining table can double as a desk. One tip I learned from spiritual mentors Tay and Val is to physically wipe the table with a different scent as you change the task you are doing. That creates an energetic boundary and trains your brain through smell.
Let your home shine.
I'm a clinical psychologist, but I’ll admit I probably spend more time studying apartment therapy than psychotherapy. I’m a sucker for creating beautiful spaces. Like many house-proud introverts, I love staying in because my apartment is welcoming and beautiful—even if all I have is 550 square feet.
This didn't come about by accident, though. It took the following thoughtful process:
- Decluttering. Things are living reminders of places, times, and people. Let go of what you've outgrown.
- Reflection. When I emigrated to Singapore nine months ago, my intention was to channel Homer's Odyssey, in which he brought back treasures from his long voyage. Likewise, my interiors mirror my journey.
- Functionality. In a small space, it's important to be practical. Don't buy impulsively, and have a rigorous organizational system.
- Beautification. Whether it's art, scents, or textiles, find what makes you feel happy and grounded.
- Cleanliness. Consider the daily and weekly cleaning and hygiene practices. Consider keeping your shoes outside and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces so your house feels safe to you. Deep clean once a month. Think of cleaning as a way to express gratitude to your space.
- Breathing life into the space. There's nothing like greenery to improve focus, calm, and mental well-being. I also love cultivating my own slice of a tropical jungle by growing sweet potato leaves. It helps me feel (at least a little) self-sufficient.
- Creating safe energy. Apply feng shui and scientific practices to optimize your house, and be selective of who you allow into your home (whether there's a pandemic going or not!) as people can mar the energy of the space.
To help cultivate a positive relationship with your house, try pursuing hobbies there and unpacking any boxes and suitcases left untouched. These actions can help shift the energy within.
Experiment with different time zones.
In his book The Power of When, sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D., says that in order to function best, we have to consider our sleep appetites and body clocks. So whether you're an early bird or a night owl, you should adjust your working hours accordingly.
Also consider using this time at home to work at a more personalized pace. For instance, people with ADHD-type traits tend to work best in 15- to 20-minute spurts, while those with longer attention spans function better in one-hour sessions. Worry less about a strict nine-to-five workday and figure out what workflow actually works best for you to maximize your productivity and peace of mind (while still meeting all your deadlines, of course).
Make an impact.
During times of economic downturn, there's opportunity for entrepreneurship and innovation. Consider tapping into this extra time on your hands with that business idea that you've been sitting on for some time. "There's never been a better time for you to step up and lead," business strategist Selena Soo tells mbg. "After the impact of what's happening right now, we'll see more services, education, entertainment, and connections online."
Right now, people are hungry for positive leadership and empowering messages. "In this time of stillness and reflection," she says, "people will start to place a great priority on health, self-care, connection, and personal and professional growth. Now is the time to step up, share your gifts, and be a role model for your community."
Connect socially, even from home.
Let's get one thing straight: Being an introvert means you need to withdraw to recharge. This is not the same as having social anxiety, nor is it the same as being a misanthropist (aka an anti-people person). I love the people in my circle—they energize me, and we know that isolation is terrible for mental health.
To combat that, I schedule in loads of "people time." I just do so in small groups or one-on-one sessions with the people I choose to give my time and energy to.
If you're in a country that's practicing social distancing, the best means is to connect virtually. A computer screen shouldn't change your ability to be vulnerable, share your concerns, or laugh about shared memories. If you're in a country where the spread is relatively contained, and the people you spend time with are socially responsible and practice good hygiene, then you might be able to connect in person. Otherwise, stick to virtual hangouts.
My friends and I regularly connect from our own homes. We reflect, cook, or play games together (which can all be done through a webcam). We study together, even if on different subjects, or we develop our own businesses and careers. What matters is we keep each other accountable.
The bottom line.
In these uncertain times, we are torn between the need to stay safe and the need to stay balanced. Know that you absolutely can do both. As home becomes a fortress, escape, and workspace, it's important to feel secure in it so you can pivot yourself back into the world we'll eventually re-enter.
Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, is a psychologist and executive coach currently living in Singapore. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from University College London and her master's in philosophy from University of Cambridge. Her first book This Is What Matters was published by Simon & Schuster in May 2022, which guides you to transform crisis to strength, or design an #EverydayAmazing life.
She has been featured in Elle, Forbes, and Business Insider and has previously worked with Olympians, business professionals, and individuals seeking to master their psychological capital. She works globally in English and Mandarin-Chinese via Skype and Facetime, blending cutting-edge neuroscience, psychology, and ancient wisdom.