Recent studies have shown that social isolation is at an all time high, and this brings some worrying consequences with it. Medical studies have even shown that a lack of social life can increase risks on your health by as much as smoking 15 cigarettes in a day! Social isolation is known to be worse for your overall health than obesity. So it is clear that if you are suffering from social isolation, you have to get to work!
The last section of this article will detail some methods you can use to reconnect with the people around you in meaningful ways. But before we get there, lets further explore just why social isolation can so negatively impact your health
The main adverse health conditions that social isolation brings along is depression, weakened immunity, accelerated cognitive aging, poor sleep quality and the list goes on. It is these health conditions that make social isolation so dangerous.
We all know the dangers of depression, and that its effect on a person should not be underestimated. Loneliness will prevent a supportive group of individuals, like your parents or friends group, from intervening and helping you when you start to adopt unhealthy habits and character traits. These same groups of people will never be able to help you when you are struggling in life, making an already difficult situation even more difficult.
Loneliness has also been found to raise stress levels, which don’t have any positive effects on our bodies. Chronic stress furthermore negatively infects our immunity, making use more prone to infections from viruses and bacteria.
If you suffer from social isolation, don’t get too scared by this information, because these effects go away when you start to socialize and build meaningful relationships again!
Who is most likely affected by social isolation?
When a child is between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, a lot of their social skills and mannerisms will be set in stone (to a certain degree). If the child lacks social skills, and is not helped by their parents or teaches, they will be at an increased risk of social isolation later on in life.
In adult life, it is the individuals that go through life without a support group for extended periods of time that suffer from chronic isolation, and its negative health effects.
We all experience loneliness from time to time, there is simply no way around it. When you have a massive fight with your best friend, or breaking up with your partner are all moments that induce loneliness into our lives. However these problems are usually resolved within a couple of weeks or months.
However, not having a social circle and truly meaningful relationships for months and years on end can lead to chronic isolation.
So let’s delve into some ways to you can reconnect with people around you and start to enjoy being social more often!
5 Ways To Reconnect With The People Around You
1. Become more confident in yourself
One of the major pitfalls that causes difficulty in socializing is the lack of confidence. Confidence really is the one character trait that will make or break your social game. A nice personality is of course also of great importance, but you will have a hard time showing others your amazing personality if you are not confident.
Gaining confidence is actually not as difficult as you might think. If you know that you lack confidence and are determined to work on it, you are already 50% of the way there! Some methods you can use to gain more confidence are:
- Don’t fear failure
- Don’t worry what others think
- Accomplish your goals
- Comparison is the thief of joy
- Adopting stoic philosophy
- Practice makes perfect
Don’t worry if you do not fully understand all of the above points. I have written a dedicated article that goes much more in depth on the items in the list above. Check out “7 Methods To Gain Confidence In Yourself” here!
2. Realize that being alone does not mean that you are lonely
I think there is a massive misunderstanding in today’s society about the difference between being alone and being lonely. I have had many experiences where I have told friends that I am planning a trip to a foreign city by myself . Their reaction is usually along the lines of “By yourself?? I could never do that by myself!”
I have asked them why they think that, and their response is always something like “i’ll just be lonely while im there and it won’t be fun by myself.” I think this is the wrong attitude and mindset to have. You should be able to spend a day just by yourself and not feel lonely.
All your family and friends are still there for you, but you just choose to do something alone.
So don’t feel ashamed in doing activities by yourself. If you learn to do this, you will gain more confidence as a result. We have seen in the previous point why confidence is so important.
3. Enjoy being social
If you are an introverted person like myself, then socializing can sometimes be a massive energy draining task. It is usually the case because we feel a sense of discomfort in a social setting. I used to overthink a lot when I went out with friends, and subsequently spend a lot of the time stressing rather than enjoying.
This can be one of the reasons why people isolate themselves, because they find it difficult to deal with that stress. However, when they become socially isolated, they will suffer the negative consequences of that lack of social life.
If we learn to enjoy social events more, this wouldn’t be a concern, so how can we achieve this.
The most important aspect for me is to feel calm at all times, so I try to eliminate any unnecessary stressors. Take the example that you are driving with a friend to a party. It will be very likely that you will want to leave at a different time than your friend. If you are not feeling comfortable and want to leave, it will be a lot harder if your friend is having a blast. You will not be enjoying your night, and this will cause you to start to dislike going out, since you have associate these stresses with it.
So try and plan ahead and drive yourself. It will eliminate a lot of potential stress!
There are many other ways on how to enjoy being more social. These include setting boundaries, aiming to build meaningful relationships and many more. I have also written a dedicated article about that and if you are interested you can read it here!
4. Decrease emotional stress
Emotional stress can become very debilitating when it comes to connecting with people. Since it is closely linked to depression, I am sure you can see that having too much emotional stress makes it unable for you to socialize to your fullest potential. If you are already a naturally shy person, it will make it almost impossible to build meaningful relationships with the people around you.
Some symptoms of having too much emotional stress can be:
- Feeling tired, anxious, or depressed
- Frequent headaches
- Holding on to stress by clenching jaw, grinding teeth, shoulder and neck pain
- Upset stomach and other digestive issues
- Irregular sleep
The best method that I have found to decrease my emotional stress is meditation and journaling using mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is the practice of living in the now, and can really bring about peace and calmness to your mind. It teaches you to live in the moment and sense your surroundings.
It is a brutally effective method to rid your body of stress. Take 10 minutes to meditate first thing in the morning after you wake up, and 10 minutes before you go to bed. Not only does it significantly enhance your sleep quality, it will also get rid of any stress you might be carrying.
If you are interested in more ways to decrease emotional stress, you can read my dedicated article on the subject here!
5. Don’t fear rejection and failure
Not everyone in the world will like you as a person, no matter how nice and friendly you are. It can take some people 2 seconds of just seeing you before their mind thinks “I don’t like that person.” Do not be scared of people not accepting you or wanting to be friends with you. The majority of people are very nice and will want to get to know you better. They will not judge you at face value.
If you lose relationships, don’t see them as failures. Instead see them as learning opportunities. What went wrong? What could I (or they) have done better. Failure is not the opposite of success, failure is the ladder you have to climb to become successful. Don’t fear failure and learn to embrace it.
I know that it can be very difficult to believe that you are able to become more social, and that it can even be a scary thought. But I promise you if you put in the effort and time, you will see massive changes, and your future self will thank you immensely for it. Note that these changes won’t happen over night, but will come as you gain more experience.
This is something you have to practice! So get out there and start working on yourself! You got this!