When we are feeling low and/or anxious it can be tempting to isolate, to lock ourselves away from others and ‘lick our wounds’ so to speak.
However, I’m not convinced that this is ever really a good way of looking after our mental health.
I understand and identify with the feeling of wanting to shut the world out and be alone, but I believe that if this is the consistent way we deal with problem feelings and emotions, it actually has a detrimental effect on our mental health.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a hot bath, candles and a good book – on my own – is just what’s needed to soothe my frazzled nerves. But avoiding human contact because I am feeling depressed, anxious and lonely on a regular basis is not a good move.
If you are someone who doesn’t have a problem with seeking out a friend, therapist or any other good listener when you are feeling low, then I salute you!
But if you are someone who treats their loneliness with isolation, I urge you to try and break this cycle.
Luckily there are more and more clubs, societies, institutes, support groups, etc available, although finding the motivation to join one can be tricky. It may help to ask a friend to join with you, or just come along to your initial session for moral support. One strategy I have found helpful for trying new things is to pick an activity I have always wanted to do, or know that I will really enjoy. For me that was joining a choir (I LOVE singing), and trying out at a women’s football team (that didn’t go well, but at least I had a go!).
A good place to start is to make a list of all of the things you enjoy, or have enjoyed in the past and a list of things you have always wanted to try. Research locally and on the internet and make a commitment to try at least one activity.
So, here is my recipe for connection as opposed to isolation for good mental health:
Take one lonely/anxious/depressed individual
Combine with other human beings who are interested in connection
Mix together regularly