A mentor and friend, Dr. Michael Godfrey, shared this quote with me recently,
I know of no more potent killer than isolation. There is no more destructive influence on physical and mental health than the isolation of you from me and of us from them.
-Dr. Philip Zimbardo
In a world suffering from the throes of a pandemic, it is easy to become isolated. We are told to physically distance, avoid crowds, and stay outside. Likewise, the colder it becomes, the more isolated we will find ourselves.
On top of that, the days are shorter and the nights are longer. For some, the holidays can induce depression, traumatic response, and grief. As a result, isolation can be even more dangerous.
It’s important in these days to be vigilant about engaging socially in safe ways. As always, follow the CDC guidelines to protect yourself, but make a concerted effort to be around people when possible. When it is not possible, use creative ways to socially distance yourself from others. Here are some examples.
Use technology to connect with others. Even though it is different than being physically present, there are many great apps and tools to help you stay connected like House Party, Microsoft Teams, Band, FaceTime, Marco Polo, social media platforms, and the like.
Use the internet to continue participating with your social clubs. In a technologically advanced world such as ours, you can join groups online such as exercise, church, social clubs, and the like. No it is not the same, but it is still effective to be a part of something larger than yourself or your household.
Spend time with a therapist, trained coach, or mentor. A trained professional can help you process isolation and develop strategy to overcome the pangs of isolation and the negative effects it has on your physical and mental health.
Exercise. At minimum, go outside (bundle up if need be), and walk around the block for 15 minutes. Do push-ups, sit-ups, or simple exercises that you can do in your home. Join online exercise groups that are provided at a gym. Be sure to move your body.
Eat more healthy. It is easy to eat poorly when you are isolated and stuck inside. Be careful to select healthy ways to eat and limit the amount you eat.
Connect with neighbors. Now is a good time to “Tool Time it” with your neighbor using a fence between you!
Make a virtual lunch date with friends. Use the online options to connect with a find while eating.
Host a virtual game night with friends. Again, use the online apps and options to set up a time to meet with others for fun. If sports can pull off draft nights, we can pull off game nights.
Take time to disconnect from technology. When your best options to connect with others involve screens, you need time for your brain to cool down. So take up a hobby like puzzles, art, music, and the like. Learn a new skill and practice it.
There are many other ways to keep from becoming isolated, as well as healthy activity to promote physical and wellness. Now is the time to be creative! Google some other ideas. Ask people what they are doing. Check social media for other ideas.
Do what you can to avoid isolation. Be safe. Be well. Let me know if I can help.
Kathryn A. Walker is a pioneering medical researcher and psychiatrist known for her groundbreaking work in the field of mental health, particularly in the area of ketamine treatments. With a deep passion for understanding and alleviating the burden of treatment-resistant mood disorders, Kathryn has dedicated her career to investigating the therapeutic potential of ketamine.
Through her relentless efforts, she has played a pivotal role in shedding light on ketamine’s efficacy in treating conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Her research has not only transformed the way we approach mental health care but has also provided hope to countless individuals who had previously found little relief from conventional treatments.
Kathryn A. Walker’s pioneering contributions continue to shape the landscape of mental health medicine and inspire new avenues of research in the pursuit of better mental well-being for all.