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TAI Motivational Moments Blog

  • Writer's pictureJerry Justice

The Human Need for Connection: Understanding the Effects of Prolonged Isolation

Photograph of adult female with only approximately half of her face within the frame.

Good morning! Let's talk about something we're all too familiar with: isolation. Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic forced most of us into prolonged periods of isolation and social distancing. While necessary for public health, this isolation had some serious effects on our mental and physical well-being. Today's blog is all about The Human Need for Connection: Understanding the Effects of Prolonged Isolation.

First off, let's acknowledge a simple truth: we humans are social creatures. We thrive on connection, interaction and community. From the time we're born, we crave human contact and relationships. It's wired into our DNA. So, when we're suddenly cut off from our usual social circles, it can feel like we're missing a vital part of ourselves. Think about it: one of the most severe punishments in prisons is what? Solitary confinement or ISOLATION!

During the pandemic, many of us found ourselves spending more time alone than ever before. While many had family members or friends with which they live, there were also many that live alone and truly had no human interaction for months on end.

Whether it was due to lockdowns, remote work or just avoiding social gatherings, isolation became the new norm. And while technology helped bridge the gap somewhat through video calls and social media, it couldn't fully replace face-to-face interaction.

So, what were the consequences of all this isolation? Well, for starters, our mental health took a hit. Studies have shown that prolonged isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. When we're cut off from our support networks, we're more likely to ruminate on negative thoughts and feelings, which can spiral into a cycle of despair. I suspect we have not begun to understand the full impact of just how many people suffered mental health issues and just how severe some of the effects were and are even today.

One not need go far from home to witness how human behavior changed afterward and arguably at least partially as a result of this long isolation. Some things I routinely see include people overreacting to even minor issues (restaurant orders or finding a product out of stock), open hostilities between people that seem to have almost forgotten we are part of a community and must play well around others, divisiveness at all new lows, attitudes of entitlement such that only that person's convenience or wants matter, even driving habits became more aggressive and much less safe, etc. Restaurant employees have literally been shot because an order was prepared incorrectly! Even an almost total disregard for laws as though their optional guidelines we can ignore if they don't suit us.

But it's not just our mental health that suffers. Prolonged isolation can also have physical consequences. For one thing, it can weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to illness. And without the motivation to get out and move around, we're at risk of becoming sedentary, which can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity and heart disease.

But here's the good news: humans are resilient creatures too. Even in the face of adversity, we find ways to adapt and thrive. As the pandemic also taught us, we're capable of incredible acts of kindness, compassion and innovation. From virtual game nights to neighborhood sing-alongs, we found creative ways to stay connected and support each other.

So, as we continue to emerge from this unprecedented period of wide-spread isolation, let's remember the importance of human connection. Let's prioritize spending time with loved ones, nurturing our relationships and building strong communities. Live kindness and civility when interacting with others. Because ultimately, it's these connections that give our lives meaning and purpose. So, reach out to a friend, hug your family and cherish the moments of togetherness. After all, we're all in this together.


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