Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Ever since the lockdown started, we all have been confined to the walls of our homes. It’s uncanny how we humans are known as social beings yet here we are in a world where social distancing has become a prerequisite for our survival! With travel restrictions imposed all over the country, one has to think twice before going out and take deliberate measures for the same. The common phrase “Stay Home, Stay Safe” is easier said than done. Sure, we are safe from the virus by staying home, but are we safe from our thoughts or anxieties that keep constructing and deconstructing themselves in our minds?
Social isolation is indeed very distressing, and a lack of social contact can make you feel apprehensive about the outer world. It’s mentally as well as physically draining. Almost every news channel has the same story about the increasing cases; it’s like a mad world that never seems to halt. Through this article, we wish to give some quick suggestions on how to deal with social isolation and manage stress.
The impact of social isolation is directly proportional to age, with the elderly being at the top of this hierarchy. Since older adults have smaller social networks, they are more prone to loneliness and mental health or physical issues. If you have any older adults who are living alone, please try to reach out to them through phone calls or video calls and try to keep in touch with them at the best you can.
The effects of social isolation can wreck our sleeping pattern and sometimes, less exposure to daylight can affect the regulation of the hormone melatonin as well as the brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, both of them which rely on light. Daylight reduces our level of melatonin, thus helping us feel awake. Daylight also helps the suprachiasmatic nucleus to reset our waking time if our sleep cycles start to drift. Without daylight, our 24 – hour circadian can change. To have better exposure to daylight, make sure your curtains are pulled up or if you have a balcony or a garden within your house, sit there for a while and let your body absorb the daylight. Natural daylight is also known for keeping the mood stable and warding off seasonal depression.
These days, most of us have been actively using social media, which is the direct cause of psychological stress. Emotional connection to social media – for example, checking apps excessively out of fear of missing out and being disappointed about or feeling disconnected from friends when not logged into social media is associated with psychological stress. Hence, having control over the usage of social media is crucial. One needs to practice self-regulation and incorporate other activities into their daily routine. Switching off your notifications can help reduce the urge to open social media platforms. A willing mind and a little self-control is all it takes to pull yourself out from the world of social media and gravitate towards your own well-being.
Romantic relationships are also a major cause of psychological stress due to the increased conflict and reduced relationship quality. According to Forbes, only 18% of couples are satisfied with their communication during the pandemic. One has to clearly communicate their feelings and at the same time be considerate enough not to overlook the feelings of their partner.
Stress and isolation go hand-in-hand. According to the New York Times, “On the upside (if there’s one to find in all this), feeling stressed right now is a sign that your brain is working properly.” It is further stated by Dean Burnett, a U.K.-based neuroscientist, that “Being stressed because there’s a pandemic and lockdown that’s completely upended your normal way of life is a very logical and possibly useful reaction.” (For a deeper dive into the psychology of self-isolation, check out his YouTube series “ This Is Your Brain In Lockdown.”) “The extra vigilance and awareness that comes from the fight or flight response is relevant here, as we try to get through this and keep ourselves safe.”
Stress is a direct consequence of social isolation and thus needs to be tackled properly. We all prefer the physical presence of our near and dear ones, but thanks to technological advancements, we can stay connected to the people who matter in our lives despite being confined to our homes. So no excuses – arrange calls, play online games, catch up on a move together – apart does not have to mean alone.
People all over the world are volunteering and taking up initiatives online to help and support those in need. You can also get in touch with these organizations and see how you can contribute, and this can help you feel better, too.
Don’t rush and try to cope up with the world, you don’t necessarily have to finish a novel or come out as a cook. It’s okay not to feel positive all day long, but make sure to have your presence of mind during these times. Try to focus on what you can control, this is not a rat- race, so go at your own pace and do whatever gives you a sense of contentment.
By – Shriya Bhatt Artwork By – Brijesh Kumar
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