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Bouncing Back from Isolation

Bouncing Back from Isolation

May 6, 2020

Isolation is a double edged sword. In the face of COVID 19, it provides safety from getting and passing to others a deadly virus. On the other hand, it has left a good amount of the world suffering from depression and some confusion about how to become actively social again. There are even a few, who after the trauma of a world-wide pandemic, are fearful of being with other people again.

Isolation, in itself, can be a positive and healthy experience. Being alone at home provides a peaceful time away from stress, and limiting engagement with others can give you a sense of freedom, an escape from the expectations of others. Solitude is beneficial in many ways.

Isolation is not strictly a physical act, but can also be a mental one as you try to protect yourself from uncomfortable feelings rather than face them head on. So when does isolation become unhealthy? Here are just a few examples of unhealthy isolation:

  • When you fantasize about others to avoid the unhappy feelings you have in a relationship.
  • You are afraid to go into public places.
  • You don’t answer phone calls.
  • You lie to decline social activities.
  • You haven’t gotten together with friends or family socially.

So what is the best way to bounce back from social isolation? Here are a few tips that may help you move forward.

  • Talk openly and honestly with others about your feelings rather than fantasize. We all know the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Relational weeds can be taken care of with clear communication.
  • Sometimes we need to do difficult things to overcome our fears. Push yourself to go to public places. Take time to stop and watch people, talk with others, initiate one conversation.  With practice, you may find that going out is actually something you look forward to.
  • Answer your phone and initiate a call to the ones you love.
  • Don’t wait to be invited out.  Take the initiative to invite someone with you to shop or go on a short drive.  If you limit the activity to a shorter time span, it will give you the opportunity to adjust to being social for shorter periods.
  • Purpose not to lie to others about social activities. But do feel free to suggest a type of gathering that might be more comfortable for you to attend in place on one that sounds too intimidating.

Remember that solitude and alone time are still healthy practices, but if you find yourself isolating for the wrong reasons, seek professional support.  Sarah recently shared her experience with social isolation:

“I am socially isolated because I am at retirement age, my family all passed away, and have not much of anything left anymore except two dogs that I can barely afford, but they depend on me. I worked my tail off all my life, had planned and saved for a comfortable retirement without financial worries, but it has not turned out that way. I’ve had so many losses and disappointments over the last ten years. It’s been a nightmare… Distancing for the virus only made things worse. Every day I wake up and prep myself for a positive day, I find stuff to do and keep busy, yet nothing is meaningful anymore. I am mentally shutting down and sometimes wonder how much longer I can do this.”

Like Sarah, isolation can cause a downward spiral of lonesomeness and seclusion. Bouncing back from social isolation doesn’t mean you have to stop healthy solitude altogether, but does mean that you need to balance and stay connected to other human beings. We were created to interact with one another, show and receive affection and love one another. Recognizing that any of these can be difficult, we still need them. 

If you are experiencing depression or severe loneliness, talk to someone today. CRISTA Senior Living is connecting & celebrating generations through grace, compassion & inspiration, you can find out more at www.cristaseniorliving.org