How to survive working from home if you’re an extrovert

You’ve likely seen the memes but allow us to remind you: while introverts have been preparing for self-quarantine for their whole lives—extroverts are going into a state of panic. As psychotherapist and author Jenny Maenpaa, LCSW, EDM explains, there’s a reason this sector of the population is often defined as those who recharge their batteries via social interaction. This means they gain energy and insight by engaging with other people—whether that’s brainstorming a project with colleagues or gossiping by the coffee machine.

As the nation responds to COVID-19, employees are now being asked to turn their homes into remote offices, which for some people, means a life of solidarity for the foreseeable future. “Extroverts may find themselves sluggish and lethargic while working from home, but confused as to why since they got to sleep longer, skip the morning commute, and drink a leisurely cup (or cups) of coffee at their own pace,” Maenpaa explains. “However, the lack of interaction with other humans can quickly drain extroverts’ mood.”

So, how can you cope? Here, experts provide their best advice for getting through this unprecedented moment in time—and staying sane in the process:

Opt for video chats rather than phone calls

Whenever you have the option, ask for a video call rather than a voice-only conversation if you’re an extrovert. As executive career coach Elizabeth Pearson explains, this will make you feel more connected to your colleagues and build excitement and camaraderie, all while being safe. Especially since there are so many tools available—including Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and even FaceTime—there are many options to host. Not to mention, they’re often more productive than other mediums.

“Today’s video chat tools are so easy to use, you can hop on a quick 5-minute call and get almost instant answers for your boss or colleagues—much faster than if you emailed back and forth all day,” she explains. “You can maintain your human connection over the phone, but without putting yourself or others at risk.”

Connect with your friends and family daily

Sure, work is a great distraction when you’re stressed about the state of the world. But, since it isn’t recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to visit with family or friends, you can feel disconnected from your personal community, too. That’s why psychotherapist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D recommends scheduling time daily to connect with someone you love.

Though phone and video chat are preferred, even a texting session will go a long way. “By having loved ones to vent to and share with, an extrovert can still reap good feelings, even when working remotely,” she explains. “Extraverted professionals need to have periodic infusions of people interacting with and being around him or her to feel more connected, productive, and happy.”

Create a routine.

Extroverts will struggle more than others to adapt to a ‘new normal’—especially one that leaves them feeling lonely and anxious. What can make a huge improvement in their spirits is developing a routine with structure. As registered clinical social work intern Alyssa Hickey, MSW explains, consistency and stability help us feel comforted, so figure out the schedule that works the best for you—and stick to it. “Wake up at times you usually do, make breakfast, get dressed and ready for work, maintain your usual hygiene routines, eat around the same times, and unplug around the same time,” she recommends. 

Volunteer on a hotline

At their core, extroverts love to talk. Ask questions. Make jokes. Have DMCs—deep, meaningful conversations—on the regular. Since some of your pals may not be up for on-going discussions during a difficult period, you can use your extra energy to benefit those in need. As recommended by psychologist Dr. Tony Oretga, many non-profits need hot-line volunteers—whether for those in domestic abuse situations or at risk for suicide.

Many people are feeling heightened anxiety right now, and may just need someone to talk to feel less alone. “While this does not serve the same purpose as face to face contact, it does give you some ability to interact with others and help out folks during a very scary time,” he continues. “Just because you are physically quarantined does mean you can’t connect with people digitally.”

Don’t read the news non-stop.

Though staying updated on the latest recommendations from the CDC and the World Health Organization will help to keep you and your family safe, tuning-in to the new non-stop will only make your already active imagination more hyped. “Unplug from overstimulating negative content by having a spa night, where everyone tries different homemade masks and beauty hacks and shares pictures and talks,” recommends licensed marriage and family therapist Bree Jenkins, LMFT. Instead, she suggests downloading interactive games—like Words With Friends—that creates a positive distraction from the chaos. “Connect and have fun which will both reduce stress and anxiety, while also giving you the social recharge you need,” she adds.

Go for a walk.

Until your city or state tells you otherwise and as long as you aren’t showing symptoms, Maenpaa suggests taking advantage of Vitamin D. Fresh air can fill our lungs and cleanse our minds, helping us to regroup and see the big picture. “In many places, spring has sprung and it is nice enough out to go for a walk without being bundled up or sprinting to your destination to get back inside,” she shares.

Find a project

Because extroverts need more attention and stimulation than their introverted buddies, finding a new project will keep them occupied. Hickey recommends brainstorming activities that you can do solo that is enjoyable and hold your interest—like puzzles, coloring, new recipes, cleaning, and even meditation.

Perhaps you haven’t gotten around to reorganizing your closet? Or, you haven’t put photos away in an album. Whatever you have lingered at home, now is the time to do it.