Isolation may be the “new normal” long after the pandemic gets over; why it may be a dangerous trend - Times of India


“I have honestly not stepped outside my house for three months, in the truest sense. I get my groceries and medical supplies delivered and get my dose of vitamin D from the balcony. I wasn’t exactly antisocial before the pandemic, but my social batteries did run out a lot quicker than others. I haven’t attended any birthday party or wedding celebrations (and no quick visit to the mall or the movies) in the past 3 months and I feel that I am not capable of human interactions anymore. I am worried but also strangely relieved that I don’t have to dress up and make efforts to hold conversations anymore. It is scary, but I simply don’t want to go back to pre-pandemic social routine.”

Neha Anand, 32 (name changed to protect privacy)

Whether the above-mentioned statement evokes a sense of empathy or confusion in you, we can all agree to the fact that the pandemic has changed the way we used to interact with the world around us, in more ways than one. With social distancing and quarantining being the new norms of survival during the infectious contagion, people across the globe are staying cooped up inside their homes, as much as possible.

We are terrified with the mere sight of another human in our vicinity, let alone murmuring a ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes or coughs. We don face masks and face shields as our armours in the battle. We carry hand sanitizers and aerosol disinfectants like our weapons —ready to spritz and spray the invisible enemy away.

A couple of months ago, we were almost enthusiastic and hopeful of the time when things would go back to “normal” that we were so used to. 7 months down the road, almost everyone is confined within the walls of their home and sharing throwback memories on Instagram.

We, humans, are adaptable beings, and hence, just like that, we have adapted to spending less than a fraction of time outside of homes. We are binge-watching and guilt-tripping all at once. We are getting increasingly comfortable with the idea of spending our whole day inside our homes, to the point where it may get scary.

It is scary because when the day finally comes when the restrictions are lifted, the malls have the season-end sale, the theatres start featuring the latest release and the swings in children parks become functional again– we may not want to step outside anymore. While staying alone, may give you a greater perspective of your own emotions and may even reduce the need for constant validation, it also strips us from one of the very essence of what makes us human– social interactions.

Additionally, extended amount of isolation can also trigger feelings of anxiety and depressive episodes in those with vulnerable mental health. This is precisely why we need human connections and find novel methods of connecting with our circle or group, especially during these testing times.

While physical distance continues to be a regular norm for an unforeseen future, one can always make use of social media platforms, voice calling and video calling to tackle loneliness. Even if you have started to feel incredibly comfortable in your cocoon, you may have to remind yourself that you always need your tribe with you, more so if you are living alone during a pandemic.

While technology may not be able to recreate the warmth of a hug or the anti-depressant like impact of coffee dates with your best friends, it is certainly the next best thing right now. So, take the first step and just drop a little hi to people you care for, but haven’t spoken to in a month or so. Nobody is asking you to take part in Zoom call meet-ups with extended family members right away, but setting aside some time to speak to those you are closest to should be the goal. Ultimately, we are all in this together and we will come out of this together.

Remember, we are already battling a pandemic, let’s not create another one out of loneliness.



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