Self-isolation can make mental health worse! 3 ways to overcome it

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new word has become an integral part of our lives—isolation. Originally meant as a means to protect oneself from potential harm, this concept has now transformed into a significant problem in society. People are increasingly embracing self-isolation, avoiding interactions with others and charting their own path in an attempt to shield themselves from external influences and opinions.

The impact of life’s pressures and behaviors on our being leads many individuals to seek solace in self-imposed isolation for the sake of mental peace. However, it is essential to question whether this approach truly offers long-term benefits or may have drawbacks. Let’s understand this in detail.

What is self-isolation?

As per the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, self-isolation manifests through early cancellation of plans, sitting alone for long periods of time and heightened stress levels. It involves deliberately creating distance from others and embracing a life guided by personal choices. Sometimes, external influences from others can hinder our progress, leading individuals to opt for self-isolation or solitude to live life on their own terms. While solitude can be beneficial in aiding our pursuits, it also has the potential to negatively impact our mental well-being.

Self-isolation can be an emotional decision

According to Dr Yuvraj Pant, a psychologist associated with Government Medical College, Haldwani, self-isolation primarily stems from emotional decisions. Often, individuals choose to isolate themselves when they are wholeheartedly engaged in pursuing a particular mission or goal in a systematic manner. Additionally, some people also take the decision to live separately in search of mental peace.

self-isolation
Make efforts to stop feeling lonely. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Instances of minor and major conflicts within a family can lead to a person’s emotional turmoil, which becomes increasingly challenging to endure over an extended period. Consequently, some individuals make the conscious decision to distance themselves from others. Surprisingly, this intentional withdrawal from social interactions can bring about a sense of tranquility in one’s life and significantly enhance their ability to concentrate on their work.

Common reasons why people choose self-isolation

1. Anxiety and stress

Feelings of stress and anxiety can lead individuals to withdraw from others, creating self-imposed isolation. In an attempt to cope with their emotions, they build a separate world, impacting their mental well-being as they cut themselves off from social interactions.

2. Breakup with partner

Experiencing the pain of a breakup or the loss of a significant other can greatly affect one’s mental state. Seeking solitude and refraining from opening up to others becomes common in such situations, often leading to self-imposed isolation.

Also read: Getting restless in self-isolation? Here is how you can keep yourself busy and happy

3. Excessive use of social media

Excessive use of social media can diminish interest in the outside world, as individuals become engrossed in their mobile devices and computers. This constant digital preoccupation leaves little time for meaningful connections with friends and family, contributing to self-isolation.

Reduce social media use
Keep your mental health in check. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Illness

Those dealing with prolonged illnesses often find themselves isolated from the outside world. Their reduced ability to engage in conversations and social activities leads to a natural distancing from others, sometimes unintentionally deepening their self-isolation.

Health risks of isolation or self-isolation

1. Irritability in behavior

Individuals who live alone may experience a growing sense of irritability over time. The absence of regular social interactions leads them to seek connections with others. However, finding themselves without company can lead to inner frustration and irritability.

2. Insomnia

Frequent isolation can result in sleep disturbances, with individuals often suffering from insomnia. Late-night awakenings accompanied by excessive rumination impact the overall quality of sleep, leaving their minds fatigued due to sleep deprivation.

3. Decline in physical health

Self-isolating individuals may be more prone to various chronic health issues, possibly due to reduced physical activity and limited exposure to diverse environments. The lack of engagement in social activities can also contribute to a decline in their overall well-being.

4. Impact on mental health

Prolonged periods of isolation can adversely affect mental health. The absence of social support and meaningful interactions may lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression, further exacerbating their overall mental well-being.

self-isolation impact on Mental health
The mental health of women: Tips to take care of yourself. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

How to stop self-isolation?

Here are excellent tips to overcome self-isolation and improve overall well-being:

1. Stay connected with people

Staying connected with others is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. When we isolate ourselves for extended periods, it can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. By actively engaging in social activities, whether in-person or virtually, we can foster meaningful connections with others, reducing feelings of isolation and increasing our overall happiness. Joining social gatherings, attending events, and maintaining communication with family and friends can provide a sense of belonging and support.

2. Maintain sleep hygiene

Establishing a consistent sleep schedule can greatly improve our physical and mental health. A regular sleep routine allows the body to rest and rejuvenate, enhancing overall productivity and mood during waking hours. Waking up early can also create a sense of accomplishment and set a positive tone for the day. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, good sleep habits can lead to improved focus, energy levels, and a general sense of well-being.

improve sleep cycle
Improve sleeping habits to protect your mental health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Celebrate the weekend with friends

Taking time to relax and enjoy leisure activities with friends is essential for relieving stress and promoting happiness. Engaging in fun and enjoyable activities, such as going for a walk, watching a movie or participating in recreational hobbies, helps to release endorphins, commonly known as “happy hormones”. These neurotransmitters can enhance mood and reduce feelings of anxiety or sadness. Spending quality time with friends also provides emotional support and strengthens social bonds, making us feel more connected and fulfilled.

By incorporating these tips into your life, you can effectively overcome self-isolation and experience an improved sense of well-being, increased social interactions, and a healthier overall lifestyle. Remember, taking small steps toward positive change can lead to significant improvements in your mental and emotional health!

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