Depression and other forms of mental illness may cause you to want to isolate yourself from others. Self-isolation is not a healthy behaviour since it involves becoming reclusive and shielding yourself off from human contact. While you might believe that isolation is what you want, staying indoors and withdrawing socially can actually make your depression worse. Breaking away from this vicious cycle takes courage and strength, as it is not easy to overcome symptoms of depression. However, it may make you feel better to know that you can take some control to stop isolating yourself.
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Ask for support. It's challenging to lift yourself out of depression and get motivated to stop isolating all on your own. If you have friends or relatives that you can talk to, tell them that you want to stop self isolating but that you need their help doing so.
Pick up the phone and call a friend or relative -- someone you enjoy talking to. Breaking away from self-isolation is a process that takes baby steps, and a friendly phone call is something that can help you establish that connection with another person. Ask the person how they are doing, and talk about something funny you saw on television or heard on the radio. Keep the subject material light, as heavy conversations may cause you to want to isolate again. Make it a plan that you will call at least one person per day for one week. Start slowly so you do not get overwhelmed.
Invite somebody over. You might invite someone over to watch a special television show with you, to have dinner together or to play a board game. Inviting someone to your house forces you to put yourself together -- showering and getting dressed -- as well as puts pressure on you to tidy up the house -- both of which are healthy for overcoming your sense of self-isolation.
Make a plan to leave the house. Meet someone for coffee and then run errands together, or join a couple of friends to see a movie in the theatre. This gives you a couple of hours away from home where you can socialise and be among people who make you happy. Enjoyable times help lift your spirit and the depression.
Join a group. If you want to be around like-minded people, you might join a support group for people who self-isolate or you might join a group based on a hobby you enjoy, such as a horseback riding group, a hiking group or a book club. Not only does this allow you to meet new people and get you out of the house, but you also get to participate in something enjoyable.
Get yourself to a gym. Gyms are social places where people go to make themselves feel better and feel healthy. Since exercise is a known antidepressant that can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, joining a gym is a win-win solution for self-isolation. You also might set some personal health and fitness goals for yourself as motivation to keep going on a regular schedule.
Volunteer somewhere. When you have an obligation to fulfil, you are forced to be somewhere outside of your home, which is effective for breaking you of isolating yourself. Volunteering also gives you access to a cause you are passionate about, and you can meet others who share your same interest.
Have a backup plan for whenever you feel like isolating. For instance, each time you get the sensation that you want to isolate, call your supportive friend or relative who can help talk you out of it or can redirect your focus to something else.
Tips and warnings
- It is critical for you to get help if you feel like you cannot stop your isolation. Serious symptoms of depression may need to be treated with prescribed medications from a psychiatrist.
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