Health Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness
Human beings were never meant to be by themselves. They were created as social animals who depend on their interactions with fellow beings to live and thrive successfully. This is how our biological, psychological, and social systems are wired. In many cultures and society, as people grow older, their social networks usually thin out due to many responsibilities and trials that life throws their way. This has led to and is still leading many people into isolation and loneliness.
Loneliness is a state of mind. It is not about being alone but feeling alone and isolated from everyone. It causes people to feel void, alone and unwanted. Those who suffer from loneliness often crave human contact, to be among other people and have an active social life but their state of mind makes this difficult for them and prohibits them from forming connections with other people.
The novel Coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by storm and has further pushed people into forced isolation for health and safety reasons. This quarantine period is easier to manage and come out of if one spends it with their loved ones. What if a person is stuck indoors by themselves for all these months and can go out only minimally to shop just for essential goods? This takes a toll on them mentally and emotionally and since every part and activity of our body is linked to each other, this takes a toll on their physical condition as well.
Chronic loneliness leads to multiple health issues such as
Depression and anxiety
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Mental health problems
It can also drive up cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that your body creates when it is under stress. Over time, higher cortisol levels can lead to inflammation, excess weight gain, insulin resistance, problems concentrating, and more.
Social isolation also leads to health-related behaviours.
Heavy alcohol use
Lack of physical activity
How to combat loneliness and self-isolation
This is the first step. You have to tell yourself and give yourself permission to accept the fact that you're feeling lonely. Once you accept this, you can now work towards being kind and compassionate to yourself about how you feel. Do not be hard on yourself as you will be fuelling your fight or flight system which in turn will lead you to depression and anxiety.
Try changing your inner voice to be less critical of you and be more positive, healthy and nurturing to aid your healing process.
Always remember that you have family and friends who stand by you. They are only a phone call away and thanks to technology you can now also see each other from the comfort of your own space. Committing to re-connect with others is vital.
Try reaching out to old friends or family members as this will feel safe, comfortable and familiar. You can also try making a connection with those who same interests as you, as it would give you much more to talk about.
Do something physical:
To rewire your mind you have to do whatever it takes to make the transition meaningful, smooth and permanent. One way to go about this is by picking up something to do; to keep your mind busy with external factors that you can manipulate, to remove the thought of feeling lonely.
You can achieve this by learning a new skill, picking up a new hobby or undertaking long projects.
Ask for help:
As mentioned before, self-isolation and loneliness are not to be taken lightly. There are serious health risks to it if left untreated. Professional guidance is needed to help you get through this permanently as a relapse is possible. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but one of strength as it reveals that you are strong enough to battle this out.
At Zen Mind, we listen to you, analyze your situation and treat it by addressing the root cause for a permanent solution. We are well aware of the complexities of the situation, its signs and symptoms and help you combat them, to mitigate the harm it can do to you physically and mentally. The techniques we employ are bound to regulate your negative emotions and leave you feeling happy and your life with purpose.