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How Are Loneliness And Isolation Related To Stress?

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By Dr. Vikas PatelPsychiatry

Man is a social animal and hence if someone decides to isolate himself or herself from others, something is surely wrong. Loneliness, isolation and stress have a cyclic relationship with loneliness and isolation being both the cause and effect of stress. For some people, having no one to talk to is the key factor triggering stress while others feel that talking to someone when they’re stressed out worsens the situation.

Isolating oneself can cause mental trauma as well as physiological problems, cardiovascular trouble, weight loss, hormonal problems etc. If left untreated, these problems can also contribute to the development of stress. Hence it becomes important to fight isolation and loneliness by engaging with others in order to relieve stress. Here are a few tips to help you get out of this vicious cycle:

  1. Start exercising – Exercising is not a social activity by itself but can help make you a more social person. Exercising helps in the release of hormones that combat anxiety and helps boost a person’s confidence levels thereby helping him or her become more social. Exercising outdoors or in a gym also brings a person into a more social area and gives them the opportunity to meet new people.
  2. Stay active – So not let yourself sit without having something to do as this can make you start thinking of depressive thoughts and increase your stress levels. Pick up a hobby that keeps you physically and mentally engaged to give yourself less time to feel lonely. This will also keep you from over thinking your problems. If you like watching television, pick comedies instead of dramas and crime series.
  3. Get support – You are not alone in the way you feel. Talking to people who are going through something similar can boost your confidence and make you feel more comfortable. Join a support group online or offline to meet people who can understand you better. In a way, this will also help expand your social circle. Getting professional help can also help address the underlying issues behind why a person feels the need to isolate himself.
  4. Pick your friends wisely – You don’t need to surround yourself with hundreds of people to have a social life. All you really need are a few people who understand you. Take a close look at your friends and the people around you and analyse who has a positive influence on you and who you are most comfortable with. Try spending more time with these people.