3 tips for making the best out of isolation

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Photo by Dave Jennings/Leslie Fireman

Sasha Baumgartner provides readers with more Unqualified Advice about Valentine’s Day

By Sasha Baumgartner, Editor

Isolation is inferior and can feel infinite when someone is inside of it. Isolation is something that, as a world, we have had to experience more often the past few years because of Coronavirus. Whether an individual tests positive, is feeling sick, or has been exposed to someone with either of those commodities, they are forced to become an isolated inmate within the walls of their home, blocked and restricted from the world, day and night.

In spring of 2020, the world was shut down and placed into a state of quarantine as cases and deaths from Covid-19 rose rapidly. This was the first time – for many people – that they got used to the lifestyle of daytime pajama pants and no social interactions unless over a screen. Fear overtook the world with this unpredictable virus, so much so that many individuals did not even leave their home because there were too many unknowns. Schools and workplaces were closed, so all age groups were entirely affected by the pandemic. Here we are, two years later, still living with COVID and navigating isolation. Even though the world has opened back up, COVID is still present, and latching onto people; therefore, there remains a need for people to quarantine when they test positive for COVID or come in close contact with someone who does. No matter what lifestyle you live, everyone has had to navigate through isolation, especially the past two years. So why is isolation such a struggle? How does it affect individuals depending on what age they are? What are the short-term and long-term effects of isolation?

The bottom line is that as human beings we need social interaction and routine: without them, there are many psychological risks. Why do you think we are pushed into school at such a young age? Because we need social interaction with peers in order to develop properly mentally. Even if you are an introvert and think you do not need to socialize with anyone, you do. Although you may hate interacting, you need to. An article published by Rush University Medical Center touches on areas of how long-term social isolation can affect one’s mental and even physical health. Author Judy Germany states, “Research has shown that chronic social isolation increases the risk of mental health issues like depression, anxiety and substance abuse, as well as chronic conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. It also raises the risk of dementia in older adults.” There are no relationships or bonds being formed between humans during periods of isolation, and that lack of connection is taking a toll on individuals – especially since the pandemic. Mental health experts have seen a surge of new people who are struggling with disorders like anxiety and depression due to the isolation from COVID: it affects more of your day-to-day life than you even realize. Medical News Today surveyed adults across the United states and the results, posted in this article, are quite upsetting: “They answered the first questionnaire in the spring of 2020, during the early months of the pandemic. At this time, 27.8% of adults indicated they had elevated symptoms of depression, more than three times higher than the 2017-2018 NHANES data.”

That means that more than a quarter of the adult population surveyed across the United States is experiencing depression or strong depression-like symptoms. Medical research proves that humans need to be together, and isolation has the power to slowly push someone into a state of depression.

You may be wondering why I chose to write about isolation this week – or you may not have – but you are still going to find out why. I, myself, am actually quarantined this week due to COVID so, as I sit in my room, I thought I would share the struggle with you: you are not alone in this isolation. There are others who are isolated too. At the beginning of the pandemic, isolation was something I really struggled with. It took a terrible toll on my mental health, relationships and overall well-being. Now, sitting in my room almost two years after the original shut down, I can say I have adjusted. Or, have I just become numb to isolation? When I think about this, I realize it really has been a long time since I hugged a friend or knew what it was like to have a very busy social life. Are we all getting more used to isolation with COVID, or are we just becoming immune to the consequences and effects? Are we all going to eventually become numb to isolation? Surely isolation is something that we are training ourselves to be okay with because the pandemic has made it so there is a constant need for people to be away from the world for periods of time.

This is you creating a great schedule during isolation. (Photo by Sasha Baumgartner )

I would also like to bring up the idea that you can be around or near people and still feel practically alone. Even though I am in a house full of people who keep texting and checking on me, I feel almost entirely disconnected. Loneliness is an uncomfortable emotion, and that can be hard to handle, especially when it is new to someone.

I have some great tips and strategies to help you not fall into the dark – mentally – when you feel lonely or are isolated from the world for whatever reason:
The first thing I would like for you to do is create a daily schedule for yourself. Humans desire routine, so creating this structure for yourself, even in quarantine, is very helpful. Schedule time for yourself for self-care and enough time to watch your favorite show. Balance your day out so you are not bored and are stimulating your brain thoroughly.

My second tip is to always have some background noise going. Whether that is your favorite podcast or the same song on repeat, always try to keep some background noise.
Lastly, speak to people you trust virtually or through the door. Even though you have lost physical in-person contact with people, do not lose virtual contact. Talk to your friends or family, reach out if you are having dark thoughts or just have a really hard time being isolated. All you have to say is “I feel lonely”, or “I just need to check in.” Simple statements like this will open up a conversation that may be exactly what you need at that given moment.

Using these three tips will help your loneliness experiences improve in the future. Remember to take care of yourself and give your body extra rest when in an uncomfortable state, like that of loneliness. I hope these tips in some way help you. They definitely have helped me – but then again, they may not help you, because I don’t know.