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  • 5 Ways to Cope With Negative Impacts Of Self-Isolation On Mental Health

    Published on November 23, 2020

    Work not in the usual office, but at home. The need to keep 2 meters away from another person, leave the house with a closed face, and communicate with friends mainly by phone or via the Internet. All these are realities of everyday life in 2020. 

    Many people just want to ask the rest: “How do you deal with all this?” It would be a mistake to believe that the need to self-isolate for weeks only brought changes in the mode of life. Such circumstances also affect the psyche. 

    According to the Global Advisor poll, which was attended by almost 14 thousand people from 15 countries of the world, in the spring about 15% of respondents reported that they feel lonely because of isolation. Today this percentage is much higher. But the feeling of loneliness is not the only “side effect” of self-isolation. 

    The Main Risks Of Long-Term Self-Isolation 

    Scientists began to study how forced self-isolation affects the human psyche long before the pandemic. Back in 2015, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Ph.D. in Psychology, Professor of Neurology at the University. B. Young found that the lack of social connections has the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or drinking too much.

    Side-Effects On Health

    Also, according to the observations of the scientist, loneliness and self-isolation are 2 times more harmful to physical and mental health than obesity. And also significantly increases the risk of premature mortality. Based on research, scientists have concluded that social isolation increases the risk of: 

    Depression

    Sleep disorders 

    Violations of executive function

    Deterioration of the cardiovascular system

    Weakening of immunity 

    Development of bad habits

    Self-isolation is an especially difficult time for the addicts. They have no activities to distract themselves as a result the urge to drink or consume drugs increases. Such people normally push away their loved ones, whom they need the most in this hard time. Then it becomes more difficult for rebuilding relationships after addiction and they are left alone.

    It further isolates the person from everybody. Such people face not only physical but also cognitive issues. If these problems are not solved there are high chances of committing suicide in these people.

    Stages Of Mental State Change During Self-Isolation 

    As for the psychological aspects of self-isolation, scientists have concluded that most often the restriction of social contacts causes three types of mental issues: 

    Stress and anxiety

    Confusion

    Psychological disorders with long-term consequences 

    First Stage

    Moreover, if the isolation lasts longer than 10 days, then the consequences for the psyche are more serious. The stress and anxiety in the case of a pandemic stem from the fear of getting infected yourself or infecting loved ones. 

    But after a certain period of self-isolation, a person begins to feel bored, there is a feeling that something important has been taken away from him, without which his life is impossible. And this further increases anxiety. 

    Second Stage

    At the next stage, confusion arises (a person does not understand what to do in the new conditions of self-isolation), which has every chance of developing into anger. Confusion and aggression are further intensified amid uncertainty about forecasts and the duration of quarantine conditions. 

    Third Stage

    For a certain time after the completion of self-isolation, a person may experience some problems. In particular, returning to work after long periods of loneliness can be accompanied by irritability and mood swings. Also, many can continue to avoid noisy places and crowded events, feel fear near a person sneezing or coughing.

    How To Ease The Negative Impact Of Self-Isolation 

    Today the world is in a situation where self-isolation may be the only way to stop the pandemic and take care of the health of your loved ones. And for the forced limitation of social contacts to pass with minimal harm to the psyche, it is worth following some rules. 

    1- Minimize The Period Of Self-Isolation

    You should not stay in “home confinement” longer than necessary. The longer the isolation, the stronger the stress and the impact on the psyche will be.

    2- Avoid Being Alone

    Use modern technologies – telephone, Internet – to communicate with friends and family. Give preference not to voice, but video communication. Moreover, the more people take part in the video call, the better. 

    3- Realize That You Are Not The Only One 

    For many people, the realization that self-isolation is not a unique phenomenon. And that millions of the world’s inhabitants are experiencing the same is a factor of calming and gaining balance. It gives strength to survive a difficult period. 

    4- Be Constantly Busy With Something

    Perhaps, each person has a to-do list postponed for “later”, “when there is time.” Self-isolation is the perfect time to tackle many of these. Also during this time, it is worth planning what to do after the isolation is complete. Such an activity is not just a way to keep yourself occupied. It is also a source of inspiration and positive emotions, which also help to cope with temporary difficulties. 

    5- If Necessary, Seek Psychological Help From Specialists

    Don’t be alone with bad thoughts. If you feel changes in your psychological state, you understand that it is difficult for you to overcome the consequences of “home confinement” alone. Seek help from specialists, especially since many of them conduct appointments via the Internet. 

    Final Words

    In many cultures and religions, there are traditions to periodically isolate themselves, to minimize contact with the outside world. For Christians, this is the Great Lent, for Muslims, it is the time of Ramadan, and in Buddhism, seclusion is at all the basis of the foundations. 

    Believers use this time to understand themselves, restore their strength, and find inner balance. Perhaps, if you look at forced self-isolation from such an angle, it will not seem like a difficult test. But it will also benefit the psyche. 

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