As the majority of us now face self isolating in some form or another, whether you are elderly, have elderly family, are at risk or just avoiding socialising, we are all having to face this.
So what does this bring up for you? How are you managing it?
Isolation is an interesting and quite a loaded word. If you look it up you’ll find words like separation, segregation, alone, remaining apart, distant, secluded, loneliness.
I would say that these are negative, heavy words.
Our brains are wired to have a negative bias, so this feeds straight into that, fuelling our fear, panic and anxiety. We need to send time actively looking for the positive things to balance the brain.
Isolation, if not taken care of, may manifest in the following ways:-
- Physical symptoms – aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
- Mental health conditions – increased risk of depression, anxiety, paranoia or panic attacks
- Low energy – tiredness or lack of motivation
- Sleep problems – difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently or sleeping too much
- Diet problems – loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
- Substance use – Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
- Negative feelings – feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or thoughts about suicide
It has also been linked to increased blood pressure and cardiovascular disease, vulnerability to infection and an overactive immune response.
Isolation is about being separated from other people and our environment. So knowing this what can we do?
- Connect or reconnect with friends and family – staying in contact with loved ones is vital. Use technology. Video calls and voice calls are much better than writing, but something is better than nothing.
- Get out and about – if you are able, spending time outside and reconnecting with nature is really great for our health. If you are able to exercise outside, go for a walk whilst still following the guidelines, then do it.
- Get involved in your community – try a new (or old) hobby, join a club, enrol in study, or learn a new skill. Try looking online, at your local Community College, library or community centre for things in your area that might be interesting to you
- Positive thoughts – try and look at this positively, as an opportunity to get things done – be it ironing, reading a book, cooking a meal. You won’t be positive all the time, but not allowing yourself to get stuck in a negative state is vitally important.
- Practise gratitude – what are you thankful for? A hot drink, a biscuit, a text from a loved one, a roof over your head, clothing, health, waking up this morning, surviving the day. Do this every day, and keep a note if you like.
- Keep a sense of normality – what can you continue doing? What is your reality in the present moment as opposed to fear and worry for the future?
- Self-care – what do you need – hot bath, great book, yoga? What do you need to avoid- news and social media, alcohol, junk food?
- Volunteer – helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected – again following health guidelines.
- Get support – If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a GP, counsellor or a trusted person
Great resources are:
This update is by Karen Robinson, our Clinical Director.