It is entirely normal to want alone time. Actually, it’s encouraged to spend time on your own to better understand yourself and practice much-needed self-care. However, when does wanting to be alone turn into isolation, and how does this affect our health?
Alone Time vs. Isolation
Healthy alone time can be defined as when we simply want to spend time on our own, relax in whatever way we choose, or do single-person activities such as reading, meditation, and more. Choosing to spend time alone can help you decompress from work or regain calm after feeling overwhelmed.
However, wanting alone time can become hazardous once you start isolating. When you isolate yourself, you may avoid social interaction due to anxiety or other internal factors. While mental health issues can lead to isolation, isolation can also be a leading factor in mental health issues.
Anxiety or depression can cause someone to isolate themselves from others. Yet, some people who want to socialize can be forced into isolation due to financial distress, remote locations, language barriers, and more. Those forced into isolation can find this loneliness leading to mental and physical health issues.
How Isolation Affects Your Health
Whether it’s mental health or external factors causing isolation, this lack of social contact can damage your health. Some proven negative effects of isolation include:
- Prolonged isolation leads to severe mental health issues
- Poor emotional health can weaken your immune system
- Higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Substance abuse and addiction problems
- Poor physical health, such as obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure
- Insomnia and poor sleeping habits
Although reaching out to others or seeking help may seem daunting, it is critical to remain emotionally and physically healthy. Even if internal or external barriers keep you from socializing, there are methods to help re-introduce yourself to social interaction through mental health treatment.
How to Stay Connected
While reaching out can feel like the exact opposite of what you want, it’s what you truly need. Here are some ways to stay in touch with those around and find social events to join:
- Find a new hobby or pick up an old one. Taking a class on a new activity can allow you to have fun and meet new people who share the same interests.
- Take time out of each day to contact your family or friends. This can be either in person or via phone call. While visiting them in person is recommended, using FaceTime or video calls can also help you keep in touch with your loved ones.
- If you find yourself alone often, consider adopting a pet. Be sure that you will be able to properly care for a pet before you adopt one. A furry friend can become a newfound source of stress relief and comfort.
- Get active and join physical fitness classes. Some examples include yoga, pilates, swimming, and more. You can also ask a friend if they need a gym buddy, and you both can routinely work out together. This ensures you’re caring for both your physical and mental health.
- Spend time volunteering and helping others. Not only will this help your community or those in need, but you can also meet new people and feel enriched.
- Find emotional support. You may seek out support from a therapist or counselor who can help you practice connecting with others and dealing with loneliness.
Professional Treatment for Isolation
People who are experiencing the negative impacts of social isolation should be aware of their symptoms and seek professional assistance if they worsen or continue. Therapists can assist by examining the underlying causes of isolation or self-isolation. For instance, social isolation might be an indication of depression or anxiety.
A therapist can create a treatment strategy that aids clients in regaining control over their social relationships and recognizing underlying difficulties. Two types of treatment to relieve social isolation include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy.
CBT can help those with negative thoughts that are keeping them from socializing. By reframing your mindset and countering negative thoughts with positive ones, you can learn how to overcome these mental barriers.
This form of treatment can help those who are avoiding social contact by confronting the root of the issue and facing their worries. By exposing yourself to social contact or imagined scenarios, you and your therapist can manage your anxieties and confront your fears.
The Time for Help Is Now
If you find yourself not just enjoying alone time but numbing yourself in isolation, then it’s time to seek help. Whether you seek out contact with friends and family or find treatment for underlying mental health issues, it’s key to ending the cycle of loneliness and isolation. You can begin your journey by trying virtual therapy at Mindfuli.
Clients of Mindfuli receive both social and emotional assistance during their treatment. You can use live video or chat to communicate with your therapist or counselor about your mental health. We also provide virtual support groups that offer a wider network of social support to help people deal with life’s obstacles.
Negative thinking and emotions can stop you from connecting with others and socializing. This can keep you from fully living and enjoying life by keeping you comfortably numb in isolation. In order to break that cycle, you need to identify your mental health issues and reach out for help. You can heal mental health issues or other underlying factors by utilizing tools like Mindfuli. The Mindfuli app will connect you with therapists and counselors who want to support your recovery and overcome issues related to mental health disorders. To learn more about Mindfuli and how it can help you live your life to the fullest, call our office today at (866) 973-4415.