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How to Stop Self-Isolation
One of the worst things about depression is that it’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Sadness keeps you from enjoying things you once found fun, so you stop doing them. This in turn makes you feel even worse, and can add a layer of guilt to the mix, because you think that you should be enjoying the activity.
The result of all of this is withdrawal from the rest of the world. You begin to isolate yourself, first from strangers and casual acquaintances, then from friends, until finally you’re hiding from your own family. Not only does this deepen your own depression, but it can also lead to emotional turmoil for your loved ones. It’s important to stop self-isolation as soon as you realize it’s happening, but this requires some planning and foresight.
Here are a few tips on how to stop self-isolation:
- Find a trusted friend or family member to spend time with you. You should have regular contact with this person at least three or four times a week. The point of this regular contact is simply to maintain contact with another human being; it doesn’t have to be all about your depression. Ideally, this person would also be on hand to call on the phone when you just need to talk to someone.
- Schedule your alone time and your out-in-the-world time. It sounds silly to plan to stay in or to plan to just leave your house, but by setting a routine and sticking to it, you make it easier to maintain contact with the world outside your house. And the days you plan to stay in can serve as motivation if you need them to. “I can go out today because I know tomorrow is an at-home day.”
- Join a group. This doesn’t have to be a depression support group. It can be a hobby group, a book club, whatever you find interesting. This serves several purposes. First, it keeps you participating in social activities, and second, it lets you continue to pursue things you enjoy.
- Get a gym membership. Gyms are great because in addition to providing exercise, they enable you to surround yourself with people and not be expected to talk with any of them. Sometimes this is just what you need.
- If you absolutely must isolate yourself, try to make the time productive. Don’t sit around and mope; work on a hobby, read a book, write a screenplay, listen to opera. The goal is to make your alone time a period of meditation and peace without focusing too much on your troubles or on past regrets.
The urge to be alone with your depression will not vanish overnight, but having a few strategies on how to stop self-isolation will help you get through the worst of it.
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