How Prolonged Social Isolation Can Affect Your Mental Health
- Apr 15, 2020
- By Miles Malferrari
We are now weeks into community quarantine. Every day since this started, we’ve been bombarded with the same type of news making the rounds all over social media: COVID-19 statistics, plummeting stock exchange rates, and social outrage just to name a few. How about taking an introspective approach? Shut out the news outside and focus on what we’re experiencing internally.
People have different ways of coping with quarantine. For some, this is a chance for self-discovery and self-improvement. Maybe they’ve been living in isolation their whole lives that this quarantine just feels like a walk in the park. These people draw inspiration from the tranquility of their homes and they use that energy to work on their hobbies or to learn a new skill. Other people probably aren’t having an easy time with it, specifically the ones that are inclined to doing outdoor activities where a lot of social and physical interaction takes place to keep their minds busy.
But no matter what type of person you are, depriving ourselves of social interaction for extended periods of time will no doubt have a negative effect on our mental bearing - some more than others. And while social isolation by itself has been a subject of study by various researchers for a while now, social isolation amid a growing pandemic is somewhat of a different story. On top of the stress of longing for social interaction and the boredom one typically goes through in situations like this, there is the added element of anxiety mixed in with all these emotions. This feeling of anxiety can stem from a variety of causes but the fear of uncertainty definitely stands out in the scenario we’re in. Nobody knows when it’s safe to go out on the streets again and everybody’s experiencing a fair amount of paranoia towards being infected by the virus. A lot of things just aren’t under our control and that alone is enough to put our minds in a state of uneasiness.
Being in social-isolation however, doesn’t mean we should keep ourselves disconnected from our friends and loved ones. We’ve got to make an effort to protect our mental wellbeing and maintaining contact with people who are important to us is an effective way to stay afloat. This especially holds true to people with existing mental trauma. They, along with individuals who belong to the low-income bracket and the elderly, are hit the hardest. For them, it’s more than just securing their physical and emotional needs because their mental health is put at a much greater risk.
The stigma of mental illness has been an ongoing issue for a long time now. People who don’t understand it dismiss it as a sign of weakness, that the only solution for it is to “man up” and get on with your life. As easy as that may sound, it’s not the most helpful advice. While we’re all stuck in self-quarantine, let’s all do ourselves a favor and get rid of the stigma of mental illness and focus our efforts on addressing each other’s needs. Be somebody’s quarantine buddy today.
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