Quarantine, social distancing and self isolation seems to be the need of the hour amidst all the chaos surrounding COVID-19 across the world. But how can you make the most of social distancing? Mindfulness.
COVID-19 & self isolation
How are you dealing with the pressures of self isolation? Are you constantly keeping your eyes on the news? Are you scrolling through social media a bit more than usual? Are you wondering if you should buy some more toilet paper? But this is not the time to panic.
Yes, it is very easy now to lose your composure in the confusion and pandemonium that surrounds us all. But can you imagine the effect it will have on your mental health?
As we are being asked to self isolate ourselves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, it is important that we focus on self-care and mindful living now more than ever for our mental and emotional health.
Dr. Russell G. Buhr, a pulmonologist at U.C.L.A. Health says, “Trying to preserve some sense of normalcy is really important for people’s well-being. And good mental health promotes good physical health.” As we go into an extended mode of quarantine and minimize our contact with others, we are bound to feel some psychological and emotional stress caused by this sudden and forced loneliness.
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How loneliness affects our mental health
According to one 2018 study, “Loneliness is usually considered to be the psychological manifestation of social isolation.” The research found that “Social isolation, which is considered to be an objective and quantifiable reflection of the reduction in the size of the social network and the lack of social contact, is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, cognitive impairment and mortality.”
Another 2019 study revealed that stress is closely linked with self isolation and loneliness. Moreover, a 2014 study discovered that isolation and loneliness can result in a number of “psychiatric disorders like depression, alcohol abuse, child abuse, sleep problems, personality disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.”
The study adds “It also leads to various physical disorders like diabetes, autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and cardiovascular diseases like coronary heart disease, hypertension (HTN), obesity, physiological aging, cancer, poor hearing and poor health. Left untended, loneliness can have serious consequences for mental and physical health of people.”
Given the current scenario across the world right now it is very crucial that we focus on our mental and emotional health right now. It is imperative that we do everything possible to reduce the psychological effects of social distancing through personal development and mindful living.
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Can mindfulness help us with self isolation?
Many experts believe that mindful living just may be the answer we are looking for right now to cope with the mental impact of the quarantine. In a Psychology Today article, Jordan Fiorillo Scotti, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and Buddhist practitioner, writes “With the arrival of COVID-19, we are all experiencing some degree of disruption to daily life.” But she believes that we can use this “opportunity to find meaning in this new and surreal experience” even though our situations may be different.
Jordan believes that although we are being compelled to adapt to a new & different lifestyle and routine, self isolation due to COVID-19 “also offers the gift of time for reflection.” She writes “Use this experience to clarify what’s important in your life and to ready yourself to move on after COVID-19 stronger, calmer, and clearer than before. Start by pausing to really absorb the magnitude of this moment.”
In another Psychology Today post, Zoe Weil, M.A., M.T.S., author, speaker and president of the Institute for Humane Education, writes “Panic and dread can accompany uncertainty, and these are among the most uncertain times that many people have ever experienced in their lifetimes.” However, she believes that mindfulness and being aware of our thoughts, emotions and physical health can help us “to be less reactive and more responsive in the face of such uncertain and frightening times.”