Understanding ourselves during the rollercoaster of lockdown

The lockdown has been a tough journey. For some of us, it has meant the difficulty of losing loved ones and not being able to grieve as we normally would. For others, it has meant homeschooling and juggling job responsibilities. Some of us are worried about protecting our more vulnerable friends and family, meaning we haven’t been able to visit them in quite some time.

Some of us have felt the brunt of the pandemic economically, losing our trades and livelihoods, being left in limbo awaiting an unknown future. Others of us have kept our roles, but have had to quickly adapt to spending most of our time virtually, and often with additional work pressures than before.

Yesterday I asked a group of people how those who were introverts were feeling. For me, I found the first lockdowns easier – after all, as an introvert I’m quite happy sitting in my bunker for long periods of time. However, I’ve now gotten to the point where I’ve been inside for so long I feel like I’m losing touch with reality. It seems like a lot of introverts have been feeling this way too.

Whilst this is no doubt tough on the extroverts among us too, it’s interesting to see how they generally struggled far more at the beginning compared to the introverts. I don’t doubt the extroverts are still struggling too, but probably in a different way than some of us introverts who can find going outside more daunting the longer we are stuck inside.

For those that have been following me on LinkedIn, I’ve been posting quite a lot recently about feeling particularly burnt out recently. I highlighted the common signs for me – sleeping worse (and snoring more!), less motivation in the mornings, enjoying my hobbies less, finding my work and extra-curricular pursuits far less engaging and having tension stomach aches.

For better or for worse, I’ve learnt a lot more about my own trigger points and warning signs internally. For me, I tend to be a lot more disorganised with my thoughts, often interrupting myself mid-speech when I am overwhelmed. For those interested in the Myers-Briggs space, I have a co-pilot ‘extroverted feeler’, meaning I tend to have a heightened sense of feeling for others. When a lot of people around me are in pain, I tend to close the barriers simply because I do not have the capacity to cope with the feelings. In practice this leads to me ‘shutting down’.

I also tend to lose my physical connection with my body, meaning I am spending most of my time in my own head. I believe that the tension stomach aches have been my body’s way of telling me to start focusing on my body more, as I tend to neglect it when I am stressed via poor eating or lack of exercise.

These have been the signs I have found within myself. Some of this may resonate with what you are feeling, but much of it probably won’t either. As individual human beings, we are unique in our own way, and have our own wants and needs. On top of that, we’ve all been affected differently, so the degree to how difficult we’ve been finding it us different for all of us.

So it’s been interesting to reflect about how this situation has affected us all personally. Whilst I would not wish the difficulties we’ve had to endure on anyone, the silver lining is that it has given us an opportunity to understand more about ourselves. If we learn from this, we can look to come out of this as stronger and more resilient human beings.

I would also add that I don’t know anyone who has come out of the pandemic better off. This has negatively affected us in some way. So it is completely normal to feel low, upset or angry with the situation around us, even if you are one of the more fortunate ones for still having a job. We would not be human if we didn’t feel some sense of loss right now.

So take a moment to think about how the pandemic has affected you as an individual. What have you learnt about yourself? were there things that you found more/less challenging than you expected?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

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