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Research and observations on people living in the Covid lockdown has thrown up some interesting findings. These results are useful in making living meaningful during lockdown, retirement, and in-between switching jobs. Let us look at how different personality types cope with home internment.

The common expectation is that introverts who like to be left alone would show improvement in moods during lockdown. Surprisingly, a meta-review done by Andreas Kluth has found that that shy people, who are lone wolves, find themselves more lonely, anxious and depressed during lockdown.

One reason could be that during lockdown, all family members are staying in the house the entire day, and solitude-loving people find it annoying that they have to be with them most of the time. Over time, however, the mood of introverts does improve. As expected, the moods of extroverts – people who love to meet and be with people – gets worse during lockdown; however, as these people have a cheerful disposition, they still have a better mood overall.

People who are prone to worry in normal times (neurotics) are beset with greater anxiety and show higher levels of depression during home-stay periods. On the other hand, people who are open show higher levels of anxiety, though not depression.

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Such people engage in abstract, creative and lateral thinking (openness) and are able to imagine what could go wrong; therefore, are able to imagine the future crises more vividly and get troubled. Agreeableness – being helpful, kind and having a sunny disposition – helps combat anxiety and depression. In case people with agreeable personalities love to meet people and socialize, the positive effects are enhanced.

Conscientious people show the most effective coping behavior. These people are organized, focused, well-prepared and disciplined. This personality type exhibits high levels of self-discipline. They are less anxious and depressed when confined to their homes, as compared to other personality types.

Such people are able to craft routines that provide a structure to the endless days when they have to work and study remotely. This enables them to use their time well. They get up, get ready, and work according to a schedule – day in and day out doing productive and satisfying work.

Conscientiousness unleashes the power of routine. As Kilian Markert says, routine is a sum of small habits – assembling small habits (e.g. brushing teeth, reading newspaper) to follow, selecting their order and then running them on auto-pilot as a seamless process.

Such routines work on the mind by affecting one’s idea of time. According to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, time is a creation of our minds, which we need to provide some order to our experiences. We impose it on the world, as part of our “apparatus of perception”. Julian Barbour, a British physicist, provides another view of time in his book ‘The End of Time’. According to Barbour, our lives consist of snapshots of experiences like the frames of a film. Each snapshot is a particular arrangement of experiences. Because these snapshots occur in a sequence they give the impression of time passing. The static frame (now) occurring in sequence gives the impression of a linear flow of time.

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We need to have a sense of linear time in order to organize our experiences and make survival possible. If the past, present and future start to exist at the same time, the humungous level of information would make it impossible to concentrate on the present and make living impossible. So our consciousness has the ability to screen the past and future and focus exclusively on the present. And, this is where routines come in – they “switch off” attention from the past and the future and help us concentrate on the practical business of survival in the present when confined to our homes during the pandemic.

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Continuous exposure to online environments brings the past and future to bear on the present.  This generates massive amounts of information, making it impossible to create and follow routines. Under these circumstances our personality type (e.g. introversion, neuroticism) takes over and reduces our ability to cope with pandemic-induced home-stay.

In order to reduce the prodigious levels of information accessed from online environments, one should allocate a fixed, short time to social media, messages, TV, etc. One useful way of doing this is to keep the phone away, as this will prevent one from reaching out to it every 3-5 minutes. Some useful tips are – prepare a time-table to attend to these later during the day and get over the common habit of checking the smartphone as soon as one wakes up.

Routines enable one to pay attention to the “is-ness” of surrounding when engaging in habitual activities, such as taking a bath, meditation, visualization, reading, and exercise, as well as basic things as having your cup of tea, talking to the family, and taking a short walk. By regulating our access to online environments, one is able to design and follow routines – perhaps the best way to cope with any form of induced home-stay. #KhabarLive #hydnews

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