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Managing Isolation

Isolation has been a significant feature of our lives over the last few years so now more than ever we need to strive to connect. The theme for World Mental Health day, on the 10th October 2023, encourages everyone to raise awareness of mental wellbeing, to talk about it, to look after our mental health, and highlight how important it is to get help for anyone struggling (World Mental Health Day 2023 | Mental Health Foundation)

“Good mental health is vital to our overall health and well-being.” The mental health foundation further report that globally “one in eight people are living with a mental health condition.”

Loneliness is often at the heart of isolation’s impact on mental health. Despite the fact that humans are more connected digitally than ever before, loneliness has emerged as a widespread issue. Pre pandemic, the office for national statistics published a report in 2018 using the community life survey. They found 5% of adults (aged 16 years and over) in England reported often or always feeling lonely – that’s 1 in 20 adults. (The World Health Organisation World Mental Health Day 2023 - Mental health is a universal human right ( It would be interesting to learn what that figure is now.

Isolation can be experienced for a number of reasons such as: being a lone parent, being the main carer for a relative or having a disability yourself, working from home, moving to a new town or country. A sense of isolation and disconnect from others can lead to a variety of mental health challenges, including depression and anxiety.

  • Depression: prolonged isolation can lead to feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness. The lack of social interaction and support can exacerbate these feelings, making it difficult to break free from the cycle.

  • Anxiety: isolation can trigger anxiety disorders or exacerbate existing ones. The constant rumination and fear of being alone can lead to heightened stress levels, panic attacks, and increased sense of unease.

  • Suicidal thoughts: The profound sense of isolation can lead to feelings of desperation and loneliness, pushing individuals towards thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

  • Physical health implications: Isolation not only affects mental health but can also lead to physical health problems such as weakened immunity, increased inflammation and cardiovascular issues.

What to do if you are struggling with isolation:

1. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, and are in crisis then please call The Samaritans 116 123 / Text SHOUT to 85258 / Call the NHS 111 for advice on where to go or dial 999 in emergency. Visit your GP / or go straight to A&E.

2. Seek professional help: if you are struggling with isolation’s impact on your mental wellbeing, don’t hesitate to get help. Therapists, counsellors, and support groups can offer valuable guidance and support.

3. Practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself during periods of isolation. Understand that it’s okay to have moments of vulnerability and seeking helps is a sign of strength not weakness.

4. Maintain social connections: Reach out to friends and family regularly. This can be done in person or through phone calls, and video chats. For lone parents, or those with children under the age of 5 you can get in contact with Home Start UK (link below). Check out libraries for information, or notice boards in supermarkets to find ways of making new connections.

5. Create a routine: establishing a daily routine can provide structure and purpose to your day, helping to combat the aimlessness often associated with isolation.

6. Pursue hobbies and interests: engage in activities you’re passionate about. Having a hobby can provide a sense of accomplishment and joy.

7. Exercise and nutrition: physical health is closely linked to improved mental wellbeing. The NHS link to 5 things/ book reference. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help boost your mood and overall well-being.

8. Set realistic goals: break your daily tasks in to manageable goals. Completing small tasks can boost your sense of accomplishment and motivate you to tackle bigger challenges.

Isolation and mental health are deeply intertwined, and the impact can be profound. However, it is important to recognise that you are not along in your struggle. Many people face similar challenges, and support is available. By staying connected, seeking help when needed, and practising self-care, it is possible to navigate the emotional wilderness of isolation and emerge stronger on the other side. Remember, your mental health is a priority, and taking steps to nurture it is a courageous and essential act of self-care.

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Image by Luciana Silva from Pixabay

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