Isolation isn’t good for your health. Here’s how to reconnect with others and find community.
In a world with so many opportunities to connect with others, it would seem that social isolation wouldn’t be an issue, but it is. In his New York Times article, “How Social Isolation Kills Us,” Dhruv Khullar wrote, “Social isolation is a growing epidemic—one that’s increasingly recognized as having dire physical, mental and emotional consequences. Since the 1980s, the percentage of American adults who say they’re lonely has doubled from 20 percent to 40 percent.”
Social isolation affects all people: youth, elderly, leaders, pastors and many more. The Bible shows us that even the prophet Elijah experienced social and spiritual isolation. When he ran for his life into the wilderness from Queen Jezebel, he was afraid—depressed, alone and distant from everyone. Elijah believed he was the only prophet left in Israel to worship God.
Experts tell us that when a person feels socially isolated from others, it’s possible to develop feelings of loneliness, anxiety, helplessness or depression. However, God didn’t allow the prophet to remain in this state. He encountered a caring and loving God who was interested in his holistic well-being.
There are a few things we can do to overcome isolation:
1. Recognize that you are isolated from others and that this is not healthy. Admitting that you are disconnected from others is the beginning.
2. Assess the reason for your isolation. For example, do you feel unworthy or rejected by others? This may require you to meet with a counselor or spiritual leader to help you assess the reason.
3. Make a plan to step out of your bubble. Reconnect with a faith-based community, volunteer, join a club, etc.
4. If you are able, get a pet that you can care for and who will love you back. Pets are wonderful companions and help us connect with other pet owners.
5. Reconnect with old friends through social media. It’s a great tool to look for people with whom we were once close.
We were created to be social beings and to take part in the community. If you are having challenges in this area, seek the help you need in order to reconnect and socialize with those near and far. Find others who too want to enjoy the company of their fellow brothers and sisters. Author Thomas Merton wrote, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone—we find it with another.”