Over the last few years, isolation has unfortunately become a term and practice that we are all too familiar with. We are naturally social creatures, and we crave social interaction and relationships.
Being forced into isolation for any period of time is unhealthy for us, hence why it has been used as a for of punishment in civilisations for hundreds of years, and still is today in our prison systems.
But after 2 years of on and off isolation for a lot of the world, it has become something that some of us are becoming more accustomed to, or even preferring. This is a dangerous trend. It’s so important for us not to fall into this trap.
We need to shake off this mindset and get back out there. Get back to how it used to be. Isolation can be damaging to our mental health, and we need to change our mindset as we begin to readjust to life coming out of the pandemic.
First of all, let’s outline exactly what social isolation is. The following symptoms are associated with unhealthy social isolation:
- Avoiding social interactions, including those that were once enjoyable.
- Canceling plans frequently and feeling relief when plans are cancelled.
- Experiencing anxiety or panic when thinking about social interactions.
- Feeling dread associated with social activities.
- Spending large amount of time alone or with extremely limited contact with others.
It’s not uncommon to experience some these feelings to a certain extent, but it is important not to let them influence you too much or control your actions.
The unfortunate issue with these feelings is that the more you give in to them, the worse they get. The more you isolate yourself from the world due to social anxiety, the more you’ll suffer from social anxiety.
Loneliness leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression, which in turn leads to more loneliness. It really can be a dangerous spiral to find yourself on.
That is why it’s so important to break the cycle, even if it seems scary or intimidating. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more you’ll begin enjoy yourself.
Working from home has made it even more difficult to inject some social interaction into our lives. Monday to Friday, the extent of someones social interactions could be reduced to zoom meetings and trips to the shop.
And then their weekends might consist of only 1 or 2 meaningful social interactions. Over a period of 7 days, that’s not healthy.
Just because it’s the working week doesn’t mean you have to stay at home. Weeknights are a great time to meet up and make connections with friends.
So, what exactly can you do to get out of the house and meet a few people in a low pressure environment? You can never go wrong with a nice, cosy pub for a quiet drink, or a sunny beer garden in the summer.
If the pressure of conversation is what gives you anxiety, concerts and gigs are also great. Head to a gig, listen to the music, have a dance, have a drink and enjoy yourself.
The cinema is good for the same reason. A low pressure situation where you can sit down and watch a movie while making a social connection with someone, rather than watching it alone at home.
The important thing is to get out there. Start making plans and meeting people. The more you do it the easier it becomes.
As we all try to move on past the frustrating last 2 years, it’s important to remember what life was like before the pandemic, to keep growing outwards and making connections with people.