Social isolation and loneliness are growing issues that pose severe mental and physical risks for a large number of people.
Humans have an innate need to connect and interact with each other. Yet, people are feeling more isolated than ever, especially with the rise of the coronavirus that led to lockdowns and social distancing.
Back in 1962, the French explorer and adventurer Michel Siffre experimented on social isolation by voluntarily staying in a cave for 63 days. Suffice it to say, he lost his mind and tried to befriend a mouse that was trying to eat his food.
Before we jump into the ways you can deal with them, it is crucial to understand the effects social isolation and loneliness have on your physical and mental health.
The Effects of Social Isolation on Mental and Physical Health
There is no denying the fact that we are social beings. We empathize with each other, and we find fulfillment in forming relationships and bonding. It is not surprising then that most mental health disorders involve some dysfunction in social behavior.
A recent study that was published by The National Academies of Sciences,Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) found that social isolation increases the risks of dementia by 50%, heart disease by 29%, and stroke by 32%.
Loneliness also leads to increased rates of depression and anxiety.
Another study published in The Royal Society shows that loneliness and social isolation are linked with adverse health and fitness consequences such as lower sleep quality, cognitive decline, diminished immunity, and various other negative effects.
Luckily, there are ways to deal with the harmful effects of social isolation. In the next section, we'll explore 5 proven ways to do that.
5 Ways to Deal with Social Isolation and Loneliness
Exercise or go for a walk:
Besides the fact that exercise and walking help you stay on top of your weight and prevent obesity, it comes with benefits for your mental health as well.
During physical activities, the body produces chemicals that boost your mood and relaxes you. This leads to lower stress levels and reduced risks of depression.
Work on Your Passions
There is a reason why so many people get swept away when they're working on meaningful projects. By being absorbed in the task, you get feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction. This state is called Flow.
So, why not pick up drawing, writing, or playing an instrument. It doesn't matter if you're good at it or not. The important thing is to get started and then lose yourself.
Read A Book
There is no denying the benefits of reading books, from expanding your mind to reducing stress. But, for people who are suffering from the effects of social isolation, books can offer a refuge and a remedy.
A study published in Psychological Science shows that reading fictional books can alleviate loneliness by immersing them in the narratives. So, pick up a book and be absorbed in another world!
Meet Interesting People Online
Meeting like-minded people online can help eliminate feelings of loneliness and isolation. While many platforms allow people to network and chat, some don't offer the best of experiences. That's why we invite you to try Cafecito, where we streamlined the process of meeting people and networking with them. You can join creatives, professionals, and knowledgeable individuals for one on one conversations via audio or video.
And while you're at it, we recommend that you grab a Cafecito, our favorite drink.
Find Sources of Comfort
When you're socially isolated and feeling lonely, it can help to engage in entertaining activities. You can cook your favorite food, watch your favorite TV show or movie, take an extended bath, or fill your room with scented candles. All of these activities and more can boost your mood, help you sleep better, and reduce stress.
In this article, we went through the effects of social isolation on mental and physical health. Then we discussed ways in which you can deal with them.