Is Isolation Wearing You Down?

woman wearing yellow long sleeved shirt sits working on laptop looking aside
by Vance Larson
Even the strongest have their moments of fatigue. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Never again normal. Not in our lifetime. COVID-19 has changed the course of life for many of us. Here in the States, most of us have been locked down for close to a month. As Nietzsche said, “Even the strongest have their moment of fatigue.” One can tell just how the virus has affected people. Just look at social media. There are posts from families in turmoil, cries for help, and some people have disappeared altogether. Isolation has been very tough for many.
Working in mental health for 35 years, I would speculate that we will see a rise in Major Depressive Disorders, Anxiety, Social Anxiety and PTSD. A month of isolation can wear you down. In addition to emotional problems, there can be some very serious health conditions that arise as well. I would encourage anyone who is feeling a little off to reach out. Reach out to friends and family members and try to establish some sort of communication. Don’t just text or email, jump on a call. We can often mask our feelings through text or email. A 5 minute phone call can work wonders. And if you’re feeling really off, reach out to a professional. If you can’t afford one or don’t have insurance, try your local Health Department. They often have low cost/no cost services available. 
Many of us went to work one day and were told to go home. While a “staycation” sounded good, no one was really prepared for 3-4 weeks off. Add in the pressures of potential sickness to self or our inner circle, that staycation has become a living Hell for many. Scared, depressed and lonely, often don’t lead to the healthiest behaviors. The amount of posts about day drinking (everyday) that I am seeing is alarming. So again I urge you to reach out to your family and friends. 
We should be honest with ourselves. If we are getting a little too far out of “the norm”, we should course correct as soon as we have identified it. What do I mean out the norm? Take a look at this quick check list.
1. Drinking (alcohol) everyday.
2. Sleeping too much. 
3. Frequent overeating (or not eating at all).
4. Lack of physical activity. 
5. Excessive use of technology. 
6. Not going outside.
7. No social contact (via phone).
I am all in favor of sleeping in late, enjoying some junk food and just taking it easy. Everyone’s new norm is going to look different. But when the new norm, no longer feels good, it is time to course correct. That is why I circle back to being honest with yourself. In fact, if you’re living with others, be honest with them as well. If you need space, say it and then create it. If you need more hugs, ask for them. If you need more communication, ask for that too. The point that I am making is that we are all in this together. Understand that you may have some very dark days. Enlist friends, family and professionals to check in with you. Let there be no shame in knowing your limits. 
Because never again normal is here. It is time to build healthy. You may be strong, but strong breaks too. Use this time to redesign your future. Your future self will thank you. 
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