The coronavirus pandemic has led thousands of people to slip into isolation and many more to develop intense feelings of loneliness. Isolation and addiction go hand in hand. Without friends, family or acquaintances to confide in and help you organize your thoughts, your mental health can deteriorate. Poor mental health and feeling there’s nowhere to turn are major risk factors for substance abuse and relapse, so you must find ways to combat isolation.
Isolation and Addiction
When we spend time alone and don’t connect with other people, addiction has the opportunity to thrive. If you’re by yourself, you might be more inclined towards finding unhealthy ways to alleviate boredom. Additionally, when you feel as if no one is watching out for you, it’s much easier to slip out of control. Even when it seems complicated, you must find ways of reaching out to others.
Human Beings Need Each Other
As a species, human beings have evolved effectively in part because of our fantastic ability to form social groups and implement structures and systems that benefit us as a collective. This means we’re programmed on a fundamental level to seek help from others and provide support, too. Often, people with substance use disorders suffer from severe loneliness, or they’re cut off from a social group.
Are Isolation and Loneliness the Same?
Isolation and loneliness aren’t the same, but loneliness can lead to isolation, and most people who are isolated feel lonely on some level.
When you’re lonely, you could be surrounded by people but still feel misunderstood or underrepresented. Isolation refers to the state of being physically and mentally separate from other people. People who are isolated can be incredibly vulnerable, but there are ways to fight loneliness and avoid isolation. Since COVID-19, many more people will have experienced being cut off from their peers and grown to understand how vital reaching out to each other is.
How to Combat Loneliness
If you’ve been feeling lonely or you’re worried that you’re at risk of isolating yourself from others, find ways to seek connections. You don’t need to meet people physically — technology is helping individuals with anxiety stay in touch. Watching, listening to and creating content are also great ways of fighting loneliness. Some ideas for fighting isolation include:
- Join an online exercise class
- Take part in an online meet-up
- Explore messageboards for your favorite hobbies and pastimes
- Find collaborators online to make content or start a business with
- Get remote therapy