We might be very well practiced at lockdowns by now, being on our third in less than a year, but that doesn't necessarily make them feel any easier. The mental health repercussions of being housebound - being unable to exercise the most natural of human functions, social interaction, along with all the other stresses and strains that go hand in hand with a pandemic - shouldn't be dismissed.
It's all well and good reading general advice on how to help yourself get through the next weeks and months. But different people are dealing with this situation in different ways, and it's perhaps more helpful to read specific, tailored guidance on how you as a person can adjust to cope.
We've identified 10 different personality types, based on the five categories of personality trait that are widely accepted within academia:
Openness to experience
Each category contains two opposing personality types, and we asked Dr Nick Earley, Head of Psychology at Helix Resilience, to identify the ways in which each personality will struggle and thrive during lockdown. Based on that, he has also been able to share some specific advice for each trait, on how best to cope in these adverse circumstances.
So, are you ready to work out which kind of personality you are, and how you could be helping yourself throughout this lockdown? Read on, and decide which of each category best describes you...
Sensitive and nervous, or resilient and confident?
"Neuroticism is a measure of a person’s emotional stability and how they perceive the world around them," explains Dr Earley. "It is relevant for how likely someone is to perceive things in the world as threatening or not."
Want to work out which one you are? "Individuals rating higher in neuroticism tend to be more prone to getting upset and have less self-confidence. Those who are lower in neuroticism tend to have a more settled temperament and be more secure in themselves. Typically, they like spending time with others who are more relaxed and may find it difficult to understand and spend time with those who are high in neuroticism," says the psychologist.
If you're... sensitive and nervous
How you might struggle in lockdown: "Those higher on the neuroticism scale tend to be more prone to anxiety and worry, particularly related to things that are out of their control like COVID-19. You may be more likely to excessively focus on COVID-related news and more likely to imagine the worst-case scenario. Heightened anxiety may lead to anxiety-related behaviours that may be difficult for others living in close proximity, such a tendency to complain, regular reassurance seeking, or regular checking of media articles. You may become frustrated or angry with dealing with life stressors, particularly those that are unpredictable such as COVID."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Social distancing may feel more natural, particularly if withdrawing from others was an existing behaviour for you. You may find it easier to follow lockdown rules and other restrictions, as it may make you feel safer and more in control."
Advice on how best to cope: "Try to accept the situation as best you can and focus on things that you can control – such as your personal routine or work. If anxiety or worry becomes a problem, practising self-help exercises such as breathing techniques or mindfulness will help bring back a sense of control. If you begin to feel distressed, therapy can be helpful, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy."
If you're... resilient and confident
How you might struggle in lockdown: "People who are low in neuroticism may find the pandemic difficult to understand and will struggle to spend time with people with high neuroticism."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "You tend to be more likely to remain calm and more logical during lockdown. You are more likely to take a proportionate perspective on events and remain optimistic about the future. You are less likely to engage in hypothetical worrying."
Advice on how best to cope: "If living with others that are more prone to anxiety, try to be accepting of their means of coping with the situation and be compassionate in your feedback to them."
Openness to experience
Inventive and curious, or consistent and cautious?
"Openness to experience is related to how open-minded, insightful, imaginative, creative people are," explains the psychologist. "People with more of this trait tend to be more open to try a new experience, ideas and take interest in multiple viewpoints and be less dogmatic. Those low in openness tend to be more set in their ways and sceptical of new ideas."
If you're... inventive and curious
How you might struggle in lockdown: "Individuals that are more open and curious are less likely than other types to struggle during lockdown. However, while you are adaptable in nature, you may be prone to getting too absorbed at the expense of keeping connected with friends."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Individuals scoring higher on openness will be likely to try and make the most out of lockdown by trying new ventures and taking up new hobbies."
Advice on how best to cope: "Use the lockdown to focus on trying new things and taking up new hobbies, but don’t forget to stay connected to the 'real world'."
If you're... consistent and cautious
How you might struggle in lockdown: "You tend to favour routines, conventions, and familiarity and may be less open to adapting to new ways of doing things during lockdown or seeking out new hobbies and interests. You may be less likely to engage with opportunities to try new things suggested by friends and colleagues, such as virtual coffee catch-ups, virtual games nights etc."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "People with low openness may prefer not to try new things, you may be happy to just focus on what you know and are familiar with during lockdown."
Advice on how best to cope: "Although it may not feel right at first, try your best to try new activities and be open to new ways of interacting with people you care about."
Efficient and organised, or extravagant and careless?
"Conscientiousness is related to a person’s ability to manage impulse control, particularly for goal-directed behaviour," shares Dr Earley. "Those who are more conscientiousness are generally more self-disciplined, controlled and persistent in their pursuit of goals. On the other hand, those who are less conscientiousness tend to be more spontaneous in their action and more prone to procrastination."
If you're... efficient and organised
How you might struggle in lockdown: "You tend to like working hard and being organised, and may struggle with being idol or being furloughed. A fondness for predictability may mean the pandemic has led to increased anxiety, which you will likely try to allay by asserting control through goal-directed activities. In line with being orderly and in control, you may be more prone to hoarding supplies during a lockdown to allay anxiety by focusing on what you can control. You may struggle with housemates that are more laid-back or messy housemates."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "For those high in conscientious traits and orderliness, lockdown may offer a welcome opportunity to have time to bring more structure to things in your life/surrounding – for example Marie Kondo-ing your wardrobe. You may also make good use of time to choose and work on new projects or goals such as knitting a jumper, learning to bake sourdough bread, studying a new language, or learning to code."
Advice on how best to cope: "While structure and routine can help you feeling in control, try to maintain to good balance of activities and leave time to reflect on your feelings. Give yourself downtime too – you don’t want to burnout. If living with others, be patient with other housemates and try to be open and constructive in any feedback you give them around difficulties or clashes you may face."
If you're... extravagant and careless
How you might struggle in lockdown: "People with low conscientiousness are prone to procrastination and might find it difficult to keep a routine and make schedules, whether that be working from home or simply structuring your day. You tend to have less energy and internal motivation, which might make it difficult for you to apply yourself without the structure of office or academic setting. You may struggle to plan activities or seek out new activities or start a new activity."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "As you tend to dislike routine and scheduling, working from home may free you from some of the office routine and etiquette – that is, you are free to work on your time and decide how you want your environment."
Advice on how best to cope: "Try to structure your day routines and schedule in regular breaks if it helps; schedule alarms on your phone to remind you it is time to take a break."
Outgoing and energetic, or solitary and reserved?
You might be most familiar with these personality types. "People high in extroversion tend to be more energetic, sociable and friendly," says the expert, adding: "They tend to be energised from being around others." At the other end of the scale, "those that are lower in the trait tend to be more reserved and prefer smaller groups or being alone."
If you're... outgoing and energetic
How you might struggle in lockdown: "Denied the ability to buzz of others you value so highly, extraverts may struggle most with the lockdown, particularly with being alone and with boredom. You might be more likely to flout lockdown rules."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Likely to be the people who are proactively organising virtual parties, meet-ups and quizzes – this helps you keep busy and engaged. You may have started to use social media to engage in various challenges."
Advice on how best to cope: "Try to be creative in how to connect with others – arrange video calls with others or virtual games nights etc. To help monitor any mood and energy fluctuations, meditation can help. And if you are lacking the means to express your emotions, keeping a journal can be a great way to record your feeling and give you an outlet."
If you're... solitary and reserved
How you might struggle in lockdown: "Whilst lockdown is likely to be difficult for most of us, introverts are likely to be more comfortable with restriction and therefore may become used to it as a way of life. You may struggle with the routine pressure to go out when restrictions are lifted."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Whilst lockdown is likely to be difficult for most of us, introverts are likely to be more comfortable with restriction. For some, social distancing and lockdown may be welcome, and you may suffer much less stress at not being able to engage with others than extroversion."
Advice on how best to cope: "Try to avoid becoming a complete recluse - try not to isolate yourself too much and make sure to reach out to friends and family as much as possible."
Friendly and compassionate, or challenging and callous?
"Agreeableness is related to how people get on with others. People who are more agreeable tend more aware of the subtleties of social interactions and tend to be more empathic," says Dr Earley. "Those with lower traits, on the other hand, tend to be blunter in their interaction with others."
If you're... friendly and compassionate
How you might struggle in lockdown: "While people that are high in agreeableness may be more accepting of the restrictions, you may not feel like they must achieve anything significant during this time and may be prone to relaxing and using this time as a break, which could lead to unhealthy lifestyle habits creeping in such oversleeping, overeating and reduced exercise."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Those with higher agreeable traits are also more likely to accept and follow lockdown rules, which may be related to your tendency to be more conformist, compassionate and empathetic. You are also more likely to cooperate and work well with others you may be living with and show concern for the wider community."
Advice on how best to cope: "Whilst rest and relaxation are positive, like everything, you want to make sure it remains in moderation. To help with this, creating a routine with a good balance of activities can be helpful to maintain structure and your overall wellbeing."
If you're... challenging and callous
How you might struggle in lockdown: "Given that those who are lower agreeable tend to take less interest in others and may be more blunt in their communication, if you're living with shared housemates you may find it difficult to maintain niceties and may get into conflict with others."
How you might thrive in lockdown: "Those with lower agreeable traits tend to be less interested in the lives of others and prefer to work independently, therefore, working from home and having less interacting with colleagues may benefit you."
Advice on how best to cope: "Although it may not feel right at first, try your engage with new ways of interacting.If living with others, try to be accepting of them and be compassionate in your feedback to them."
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