The Benefits of Social Isolation
Finding the positives during the Covid Crisis
How are you coping with social distancing? With community quarantines? Or with the travel ban?
Life sometimes throws at us a curveball that leaves our situation in disarray, our mind spinning, our economy at a sudden halt. Thanks to Covid-19, community lockdowns had to be implemented across governments around the globe. All of a sudden we are out of work, no more business trips, no more hanging out at bars/cafes, no more weekend picnic at the park. “Business as usual” is out the window and the old normal is left outside our shut doors when lockdown started.
This state-of-affairs is new to all of us who are used to (and are truly missing) the old normal. But then again, by virtue of the deadly consequence of coronavirus, we have eventually come to terms with the fact that social isolation is now the new normal.
So, what to do when life seems to be at a standstill?
How to deal with solitude?
For us humans who are naturally social beings (with many that are outgoing), the idea of spending extended periods in solitude is frightening –inconceivable even. Majority of us live in cities and spend most of our time in groups, oftentimes outside, interacting with different people on a daily basis. (For teenagers, being shut up at home with family for a long time can spell NIGHTMARE!)
Obviously, we don’t downplay the possible negative impact of isolation. Dutch Psychologist, Paul Kop, explains that long-term isolation at home can have severe and traumatic effects. Hence, the importance of staying connected with people and going out to interact as you desire.
But in crises like a global pandemic, we gain much by looking at the positive side of “imposed” isolation. While the rising coronavirus infections are outside our control, it isn’t this situation that will dictate our mood, but ultimately the position we take towards it. While shutting off the world completely isn’t highly recommended, we all can take advantage of this period of isolation for personal growth.
Let’s dive in and explore the benefits of social isolation.
1) It improves memory and concentration.
When working in groups, people exert less effort to retain information because they simply assume (and are confident) that the others will fill in the gaps for them (a phenomenon called social loafing). Working alone on something helps focus your attention and concentrate your energy –which improves retention and recall.
2) It boosts creativity.
The real treasure of isolation is: solitude leads to more creativity. Creativity thrives in solitary activities like writing, practicing a musical instrument, pottery. What interests you that you can do now?
3) It sheds light on forgotten things.
Here’s your chance to illuminate the forsaken parts of you that you’ve pushed aside for far too long because life got in the way. Now is the opportunity to turn the spotlight on passions, hobbies, interests that you haven’t paid attention to.
In isolation, you have the time and energy to illuminate these forgotten passions. Reignite their flame. It’s their time to bloom.
4) It deepens your empathy.
Research suggests that a certain amount of me-time or alone-time is actually conducive to increasing empathy for people around you. Even during quarantine, we are never completely alone (nor enjoy complete me-time) because of digital communication. Technology has transformed how we spend time alone, especially if you have a headset and Skype/Facebook account. Even so, if we engage in digital silence and be truly alone, our ability to understand emotions and facial expressions of others will improve.
5) It provides an opportunity to detach and reflect.
Being part of society also means getting entangled in your group’s preference, external factors, and the numerous fascinating things the outside world offers. In today’s consumerist culture where “work hard, play harder” mentality is ingrained in us, we’re made to believe that all the good stuff is out there. But in fact, all the good stuff is inside you. Happiness doesn’t come from people or things, it IS found WITHIN. This is a great chance to cultivate contentment with who you are. Reflect upon the good that you have.
Psychoanalytic political theorist at Medaille College, Matthew Bowker, who has extensively researched solitude noted that productive solitude requires internal exploration, similar to having “labor” which can be excruciating and uncomfortable. “It might take a little bit of work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does, it becomes maybe the most important relationship anybody ever has –the relationship you have with yourself.”
Try and work on productive solitude and you may find that you’re enjoying yourself immensely.
Jarvis Hypnotherapy in Sydney is still open for phone and online sessions. If you are struggling with isolation, contact us today for help.