Clacton-based psychologist shares expertise to cope in the lockdown. 

WE hear a lot about how businesses don’t deal well with uncertainty and this is no surprise, given that businesses are made up of people.

As humans we really don’t do uncertainty and that’s what we’re facing a lot of at the moment.

Psychologists explain how we are still very much the product of our evolutionary past – and that means we do ‘flight or fight’ well, but are less adapted to anything in between, like ‘wait and see’ or ‘just stay put’.

We don’t know what is going to happen at the moment and that’s a difficult place to be in.

It’s very stressful and this stress can lead to sudden feelings of fear or anger in ourselves and those around us.

Once we understand that it is the stress of uncertainty that is making us feel like this it can be easier to handle in both ourselves and in understanding how others are feeling – and then finding ways to help ourselves and others.

So in this sense, we are all very similar to each other.

But we can also be very different and it’s important to think about how our personalities will affect us, particularly if we are trying to work from home.

One area where we differ is in our levels of extraversion and introversion.

We know that people who are more extraverted draw their energy from the outside world, from interactions with others, and so they like having others around.

On the other hand, more introverted people tend to draw their energy from within and like to spend time on their own in quiet spaces.

You might have worked out where this is going; imagine what being stuck at home is like for different people.

Extraverts are likely to really miss that interaction and may feel down, lacking energy and losing motivation. Introverts, in contrast, may find they cope well with being more on their own; it might even be more productive than a busy office environment where there are loads of distractions and noise.

But what if you are not alone in the house, but are sharing with children who are no longer at school, or partners also working from home? All competing for space. All making noise and interruptions.

Now the tables turn; more extraverted people actually thrive on interruptions and busy environments; they’ll feel energised and positive.

More introverted people though will struggle to maintain attention and may come to resent the constant interruptions.

Knowing yourself and others can again help here.

If you or those around you are more introverted, try to find quiet places to work.

Set clear times when you will be available to others and turn off emails until you are ready to deal with them.

If you find your energy draining and irritation levels rising, find a quiet space to recharge your batteries.

For more extraverted people, you might want to do the opposite, finding ways to maintain contact with people, skype, email, etc.

You’ll thrive on the ping of incoming mail

You may want to set up your work space in a busier place in the house so you do not feel so away from people.

If your energy levels drop, try to make contact with others electronically or find activities to do with others within your household.

Another area we can be different is our ordinary levels of calmness and positive outlook.

Thinking about this can again help us to understand different approaches and ways of thinking; is someone annoyingly blasé about the situation or panic buying loo rolls?

If we recognise ourselves as seeming less anxious and calmer than others, we might make sure we are still taking all precautionary measures and not taking any unnecessary risks.

It can also help a more anxious partner or loved one if we reassure them about this and communicate.

If on the other hand, we are feeling very anxious, then we might try and find ways to relax and feel calmer; perhaps with breathing exercises and managing our social media, keeping away from fake news.

We might actively plan for a two-week isolation period or how we would cope for longer, with the support of friends and family.

For all of us, it’s about looking after ourselves and others in a very challenging time.

Let’s help each other through better understanding and help bring out the best in every one.