Ever wondered about that person whom you stalk on social media? The one with the most significant number of selfies?
Here's the startling realization:
- They will choose to die than to be alone.
- To prove themselves wrong about this, they constantly upload their "solo-selfies" to remind themselves they are alone. Or they are perhaps hiding the fact that they are alone.
Isolation is different. It's not a choice like loneliness; it's imposed, meaning:
- The fact that you craved work from home a few months back, now your kids are also a part of your Zoom calls.
- It is possible to hang clothes on the balcony and talk about generating revenue.
- It is also possible to enjoy bass on your Bose and pay zero attention to the boss on con-call.
That's the fun of isolation. It comes with a huge degree of freedom if we choose not to compare it with loneliness.
Loneliness can happen at a party as well. Isolation is a nightmare that extinguishes all chances of parties and pizza.
Loneliness happens out of pain. Isolation occurs not only to avoid pain – it is a do or die – do isolation or die. Have to!
Loneliness happens out of blaming other people. Never helps! Isolation happens out of blaming other countries in WhatsApp groups – it never helps, yet it builds a social connection with those new groups since 2017.
How does loneliness affect mental health?
A lot of us feel lonely from time to time! With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, everyone is bound to their homes, maintains social distancing, and has to do work from home. Away from loved ones and staying 24*7 at home can be traumatic. After just a few days of isolation, most people, importantly older adults, started feeling lonely. Usually, these short-term feelings shouldn't harm our mental health. But, as we could see, the covid-19 pandemic had started last year, and it is still ongoing. The isolation or quarantine period increased so as the feelings of loneliness in people.
Long-term loneliness has many risk factors, one of which is depleting mental health that can be very risky. Mental problems increased the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and increased stress levels. These are some of the mental health issues that can trouble people even after the pandemic is over—when one feels lonely for a long time and it has become like a long-term job, then managing the mental health problem can become too hard.
During such time, people are fragile! If someone feels like this for a long time, it is better to call the helpline number or contact the healthcare providers. Before it's too late!
The effects of loneliness and social isolation
According to meta-analysis research, mental and physical health are interconnected! The adverse effects of social isolation or quarantine can have serious health consequences, starting from sleeplessness to a diminished immune system. While loneliness is associated with depression hyper anxiety, it even increases suicidal tendencies. Both isolation and loneliness are also linked to issues as poor cardiovascular health and cognitive functions.
- A study led by a group of experienced epidemiologists found out that deficiencies in social contact or social relationship are linked with a higher risk for depleting self-esteem, coronary heart diseases, and even stroke.
- According to The Journals of Gerontology, it showcased that the effects of loneliness can be hazardous, and according to the study, more than 42 percent of increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
However, the link between social isolation and chronic medical conditions is not entirely related or understood. But, there are a lot of pieces of evidence to support that there is a connection. A study conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology suggests the link between isolation or quarantine has an increased risk of obesity, smoking, and even premature mortality. As the Center for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) said, chronic loneliness and isolation are serious public health risks.
How can you get past the isolation and loneliness of this pandemic?
"Distraction" is one word that will help anyone get past the loneliness and isolation they feel. Well, to get yourself distracted, there are a lot of strategies and tricks that you can follow. You can employ these strategies to ensure better mental well-being and health. While you are in this imposed isolation, here's a perspective to understand:
Most of the below strategies help you distract yourself by keeping you busy despite the troubling circumstances:
- Remember your savior: Anytime you feel alone, remind yourself that your oregano collection is there for you. It will help you, support you, and be the light in isolated times. Ordinary people paint and read a book during isolation. Extraordinary people put oregano in curd or Maggi and live their fullest lives.
- Bigger Perspective: The real rush of our lives was to make things better. Make that sale – to make customer's life (and our incentive) better. Produce that video – to shift the viewer's mindset (and have sponsorships in the future). Get that MBA – because you are passionate about it – or probably that was the best way to escape parental pressures.
- Embrace physical activity: Loneliness usually leads to mental health issues. Typically, people forget that the physical and psychological aspect is intertwined with each other. Staying active and doing some physical activity will help with your health condition.
Suppose you stay at home all day long and get the least or no exercise; this may have a damaging effect on the mental abilities that you might find hard to cope with. Below are some physical activities that you can try at home during this pandemic:
- Practice yoga, in-door cardio, or any low-impact workouts. You can follow any youtube influencer or sign up for online classes and meet people through the social network.
- Enjoy a walk or jog in the neighborhood. If you have a treadmill at your home, then you don't even need to go anywhere.
- Do something meaningful
One of the primary reasons for feeling lonely is losing the sense. If you have found out that your feeling is not "bore," including this, you feel like you are losing your mind and self, which might badly affect you.
We want to feel like we are important and belong, and our life is significant. To avoid such negative thoughts, it's best to incorporate meaningful activities into your day-to-day life. Even if it is small and short, doing something every day will help you give a sense of purpose and identity.
You are the only person to know what you want to do! and what will mean most to you, but here are few ideas that you can start with:
- Signup for the online course that you are avoiding for a long period
- Register for volunteer work and help everyone, even animals, in these unprecedented times
Find sources of comfort: Making yourself feel comfortable and relaxed is very important to keep oneself sane! Find ways to comfort yourself, even when you are isolated and lonely; it will help improve your mental health status. Below are some of the ideas that you can apply to find the comfort that will help you when you are alone:
- Read your favorite book
- Take a nice warm bath
- Play with your pet
- Give yourself a soothing massage
- Watch your favorite TV series
- Cook your favorite meal
- Have a cup of tea to relax
- Brighten up the place around you by lightening up some candles; it helps to reduce stress
- Practice sleep hygiene so that you get enough rest
However, the most important of all is our chase for a better life. This isolation is just different – not to be better in life. It is the only option to have a life – if life won't exist in the first place, how will you get all the fun stuff you have so beautifully been waiting for?
- Remember the school teacher: You had to say yes, ma'am! You thought school would get over, and life is excellent. Who knew you would have to sit for long hours with tremendous pressure to earn money and say "yes ma'am," "yes sir." Isolation is making your school time wishes come true! Sit the way you want, put your laptop on the floor, sleep and answer your emails – life has become like a college hostel with no yes sir or ma'am. Oh yes, you do get aloo in aloo parathas in this hostel.
- Forget hobbies, have fun: Okay, you wanted to learn guitar and signed up for an online course you wanted to learn from. Or did you want "that one person" to see it on your feed? Be it your boss, be it your classmate who used to bully you, be it anyone else. Had you wanted to learn to play guitar, you would have. What if you do something fun? That you enjoy? Like playing hopscotch in the living room? Or turning on your home theatre and dance like Katrina? Or what about calling your sister far away in the middle of the day – for no reason – with a ghost mask on your face? Focus on fun, and you'll be glad you did.
- Learn to chill: There is a particular pleasure in falling asleep with a book in hand. Or to clean the floor after having watermelon (and spilling its water). Or to know that this weekend you won't have to go grocery shopping. It feels like a super special throne when the laptop is kept on the floor. It will, in reality, take you to those days of "wish I didn't grow up."
The world is chilling by streaming shows, while to a certain extent, it is good, yet at a deeper level, it is loneliness. Loneliness won't go away ever – in the malls, in the restaurant, at a hangout with close friends or family members.
Isolation – is a gift.
It is a gift for your abs as you have to mop the floor.
It is a gift for that one piece of Goa slippers lying behind your bed – to have a chance to escape the coma between life and death finally.
And guess what! It is a gift for your boss as well – no matter how much they say the opposite, they are enjoying this isolation.
And so are you, if you have the right combination of self-care and email care; and the right combination of oregano and cheese in Maggi. Okay?