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The effects of social isolation

Aug 27, 2021 12:10 PM

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When I go through a hard time, I tend to retract myself from my friends and family. It’s all a mind thing, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling self-conscious or just anxious overall. It is a constant battle with negative thoughts saying that people are against you, even though they aren’t. These thoughts lead to self-isolation.

Social isolation is when one lacks social connections. I sometimes have to take breaks from socializing. I get strong urges to disconnect or shut everyone out. It leaves me by myself. It feels almost deserted. Even though that’s the exact opposite of what you really need during a hard time I avoid it altogether because of the constant feeling that I need to be alone. It’s like a life of solitude.

Retracting yourself from people causes someone like myself to find themself withdrawn from people, even though they might be in a place where you find people who might be happy or enjoying themselves. You can crave the social contact you desperately need and the connection that you deeply need. So, you try to go out, but there is something that still holds you back. According to Zaria Gorvett’s article, “How solitude can affect your social skills” in “BBC,” “Isolation can become a self-fulfilling prophecy known as 'the loneliness loop.'" It can lead to a toxic combination of low self-esteem, hostility, stress, pessimism, and social anxiety – ultimately culminating in the isolated person distancing themselves from others even further.” That keeps people who are isolated back, and they still end up alone.

When you find yourself alone, you resort to media as a place to spend your time. In a sense, it gives me a place to relax. On the internet, you manage to get distracted. You end up getting distracted from your problems even if it’s for a small period of time. When I isolate myself I start to spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet. It comforts me for that small amount of time, but all good things come to an end. Soon the feeling of loneliness comes right back to bite you.

When you isolate yourself, people can tell. They seem to notice when someone is all alone. You even start to feel different. I feel like a fish out of water in crowded places. Since you get used to being alone, being in a crowded place doesn’t make it any better. All that time you spend with yourself makes you become used to it. It’s an extreme change of environment in a crowd. Those negatives thoughts that lead you to isolate yourself in the first place come back leaving you self-conscious all over again.

Isolation gives you some free time. Especially since you withdraw yourself from others. You end up finding yourself alone in bed all day. It’s like a continuous cycle. The days seem the same as if nothing has changed. For me, it’s as if I’m repeating the same day over and over again.

The things that brought you joy once start to feel boring. They may feel useless or pointless to do anymore. The journal article, “The effects of social isolation on well-being and life satisfaction during pandemic,” published by Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, states that “Further, restricting social networks and experiencing elevated levels of social isolation act as mediators that result in elevated negative mood and lower satisfaction with life factors.” The games you once enjoyed playing make no sense since you had pushed the people in your life away when you isolate away from them. That’s what isolation does to a person.

Social isolation is more serious than a lot of people talk about. It is not something one can just stop just like that. Social isolation is an illness. It leads you to unwanted loneliness. I’ve dealt with it before and it’s really hard to overcome, but asking for help is completely fine. I know it can be hard, but it’s always okay to ask a loved one or friend for help.

If you have a friend who has been withdrawn, you should really check on them. Tell them that you’ll always be there for them. I think that if you reassure them it will show them that you care. It might not change things at first, but they will start to realize that you care for them. 

If you are going through social isolation or any other mental health issues, don’t be afraid to contact The Samaritans HelpLine – 1-877-870-4673.