Social isolation & coronavirus: what we need to know as the balloon goes up - feelya

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3 min read

Dr. Craig Knight, a Chartered and Registered Psychologist and Research Fellow at the University of Exeter is sharing his advice on how to cope with self-isolation during the pandemic. 

This is important, really important. In these times of self-isolation, recommended isolation and – increasingly – enforced isolation, we are in significant psychological danger, this is especially true for older members of society.

If you are over 70 and live alone; you will do better, feel healthier and live longer if you join a social group than if you just continue your solitary life. And the rest of us do better in groups too. There is a clear corollary during the present pandemic.

Anti-squabbling medicine

As Coronavirus bites and we withdraw into smaller and smaller social groups, we risk depression, loneliness, lethargy and rumination. Any bugs, strains and pains we do have are likely to seem worse. Meanwhile being locked away with the same tiny group of people – even those with whom we have a good relationship – for extended periods is likely to see us bicker, resent and form potentially unhealthy cliques (you and me against them) as time passes. Dyads may come under immense strain.

So, keep in contact with others. We are better equipped today, to maintain our social networks than ever we have ever been. Social media, Skype, Facetime as well as telephones, are fabulous tools. Send letters too. They show particular thought.

Spend periods away from those with whom you are physically cooped up. Pass time with remote others. The change will do everybody good.

Quality of interaction

Contact the elderly with particular frequency. Take time to show them now – if necessary – how to use Skype, or whatever tools are to hand.

Remember, the more senses brought to bear in interactions, the more real they seem. So, if you can be seen as well as heard that is a big plus. The more effort you put into your interactions, the more your conversations are appreciated.

Pharmaceuticals and isolation will protect our physical health for sure, but they are poor remedies for anything else and have the capacity to cause significant emotional damage. So here is this doctor’s prescription:

The best drug, the finest out there, the one that is good for mind and body and soul, is meaningful company. We are an incredibly social species. Social interaction is good for everything that ails us. Take this drug frequently, go out of your way to find it, to offer it and to use it for yourself. This particularly applies to those of us who are alone in coronavirus space.

In the present climate, you may have to change the nature of your social interaction. But don’t, under any circumstances lose it. ‘Each other’ is the best medicine we have.