The Effects of Social Isolation

By now, just about everyone has experienced some form of social isolation due to the pandemic. The effects of social isolation are real but not always obvious. Arming ourselves with a little information can give us an advantage in combating its effects.

We are social beings. We are genetical programmed to seek-out interactions with our fellow humans. A perceived loss of social support creates an emotional and chemical response that we call loneliness. Biologically, this response compels us to take action to remedy the situation. And when an immediate remedy is unavailable, anxiety develops, and the stress only compounds upon itself. This affects everyone, regardless of age.

So what can we do? First, arm ourselves with a little information. In his June 03, 2020, article titled “Five Reasons Why Being Home All the Time Is So Hard, How can it be so unpleasant to be stuck in a place we love?”,  Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. outlines various ways we are affected.

  1. It Signals That We Have Lost Control Over Our Lives
  2. The Sheer Amount of Change Is Stressful and Exhausting
  3. Social Isolation Runs Counter to Human Nature
  4. Being in Isolation With Others Can Be Challenging
  5. Isolation Creates a Ripe Environment for Depression

This may seem like old news now, but reviewing it will help keep focused on efforts to combat these effects. Taking steps to plan and organize or life and home will reaffirm our belief that we are in control of our lives. Create a calendar of events, tasks, and activities for yourself and your fellow dwellers. Encourage them to do the same. Make sure to include some repeating events that add consistency to some activities throughout the week. This will create a new normal routine and lessen the feeling of constant change. And be sure to include some time alone, away from any of your cohabitants increasingly annoying idiosyncrasies. And if there isn’t any behavior annoying you, yet, time away will help keep things that way.

Work to set up a few recurring video or telephone visits with other households. Giving and receiving communications is a way of showing others that they are not alone in these times.

Be open to the fact that depression is not uncommon in these circumstances. Look for signs in yourself and others, and be receptive to expressions of concerns received from others. A continuing lack of sleep, appetite, or interest in normal activities should be noted and discussed in order to subdue depression before it can advance.

As a side note, many of our elderly were dealing with social isolation long before the pandemic, and will continue to do so after we emerge from its grip. I will bet that our new-found empathy for those still living in isolation will remind us to give them a call now and then.

So grab a calendar and take some proactive steps today!

As always, thanks for reading. If you have a moment, please Like this page and consider sharing this post it with others. It’s greatly appreciated.

And remember to take the next step…

Check out some of my early posts for coping with the effects of the pandemic:


PS: More information on the effects of social isolation can be found here:

Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D.
Five Reasons Why Being Home All the Time Is So Hard
How can it be so unpleasant to be stuck in a place we love?
Posted Jun 03, 2020

Hämmig O. Health risks associated with social isolation in general and in young, middle and old age. PLoS One. 2019 Jul 18;14(7):e0219663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0219663. Erratum in: PLoS One. 2019 Aug 29;14(8):e0222124. PMID: 31318898; PMCID: PMC6638933. From

Help for Household Stress

Household stress comes from many sources. One contributor can be disorganization. Having a home in physical chaos not only causes confusion, it can also create a constant nagging sensation of unfinished business. Which, of course, stresses us out even more. A 1927 study by Lithuanian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik showed that when work was interrupted before completion, the details were more readily recalled from memory. This ‘Zeigarnik Effect’, may possibly be due to the brain keeping all of that tasks related information ready, expecting the work to be completed. So if a daily walk through your home, office, or life churns stressful feelings of unfinished business and loss of control over life, then how chronic stress be avoided?

The effects of chronic stress not only wear on us emotionally, they can actually change our brain. Dr. Kerry Ressler, chief scientific officer at McLean Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School addressed these findings in his 2018 article In there he concludes that there is evidence that chronic stress can rewire your brain; building up the part which is designed to handle thoughts associated with removing threats, while reducing the size of the brain tasked with more complex thoughts and higher-order thinking. Ugh. Who wants that?!

Here are some steps which we can take today to relieve some of this stress:

  1. Grab a sheet of paper and look around the room you’re in. Write down something that needs closure. Perhaps it’s cleaning the windows, filing some papers away, cleaning up a bookshelf, whatever. The size of the task doesn’t matter, except it may be best to start small.
  2. Write down this one task on your sheet of paper. Now write down how long it should take to complete if you really focus all of your attention on getting it done.
  3. Write down what reward you’ll give yourself for completing the task.
  4. Decide if you can do it now or write down when you’re going to do it.
  5. Tell others of your intention. This may seem silly, but having the social expectation will help reinforce its completion. And who knows, maybe they’ll decide to help. But you might have to share the reward!
  6. If completing the task later, set a reminder on your phone, calendar, mirror, wherever necessary.
  7. When working the task, don’t let anything distract you from its completion. Put on some of your favorite music and use a favorite candle or essential oil to make the process more enjoyable
  8. When finished, write DONE in big letters on the tasks sheet of paper and hang it for all to see (especially you). Give yourself the reward you’ve earned. And let those you told about the task know that you’ve finished.
  9. Wasn’t that fun!
  10. Go back to step 1 and repeat….

This all may sound a bit extreme, but you are actually using an arsenal of tricks to rewire your neural pathways and cement a new habit into your life. Give it a shot, it may actually be fun.

I’m always interest in feedback. What other tips, tricks, and techniques do you use to make a task seem more enjoyable?

Find more steps for organizing your life at

As always, thanks for reading.

And remember to take the next step…