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Isolation – Being, Feeling and Combating

Isolation – Being, Feeling and Combating during COVID_19

by Anne Devlin (MA Psyhe, HDip Psyche, BA (Hons) Psychol)

Existential Perspective

The words ‘Isolation’ and ‘Lock Down’ tend to conjure up very bleak and unwelcome images. The idea that I might be completely separated from other people could have a hugely negative impact on my mental well-being. While being separate from people is part of daily life and from an existential viewpoint brings some comfort, the idea of ‘isolation’ as a barrier against the dreaded COVID-19 brings it to another level.

Having to ‘Socially Isolate’ for the good of the nation is easy to accept on a logical plane however the reality requires a deeper level of processing to help bring life back to balance.  I have had to ‘reframe’ and challenge my own thought process in relation to ‘Social Isolation’ in order to find some inner calm. I would like to believe that sharing this with you might also bring you calm too.

Being isolated and feeling isolated

I have decided to differentiate between two aspects of isolation i.e. being isolated and feeling isolated.  Why do I make this distinction? Because the former puts my whole person in a position of isolation; myself and isolation are one in the same. The latter however allows me to witness the isolation and gain some objectivity. Am I actually (being) isolated? or am I feeling isolated?

Bringing some separateness between the idea of being and feeling allows me the space to act and to reduce my feelings of isolation. I may not be able to go outside and meet with people, but I can still connect with people and feel less isolated.  You may think I am splitting hairs but noticing that I am feeling isolated gives me some control and allows me to put in place those things that might make me feel less isolated and more connected to others.

I have written down some of the things I will do to help me mange those feelings and help me feel less isolated:

  • Writing letters to family – back to the old ways
  • I will buy and send postcards
  • I will set up a Zoom/Skype account and arrange to connect with friends. Maybe my female friends one month and my male friends the next
  • I will set a challenge for myself to join a book club online
  • I will do a day in the life video of myself and send it to my family and ask them to do the same
  • I will pick up the phone and speak to someone I haven’t spoken to for a while
  • I will text my family and friends to check in
  • If things get too much, I can arrange to speak to a professional online
  • I will have support lines on my fridge if I need to speak to someone about how I am feeling
  • I will allow myself to view things from an existential stance and challenge myself to manage the feelings of angst that come with the realisation that I am truly alone. Knowing that there is a point no matter how close I am to others there is always a fine line of separation.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl


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