The COVID-19 outbreak has left many people more alone than they’ve been in a long time.
The human race is locked in a battle against something five million times smaller than us. The Novel Coronavirus that has emerged from Wuhan in China has gone from an unknown enemy to feared worldwide, in a matter of months.
In a move that would have been unthinkable just months ago, quarantine and social distancing have now become commonplace globally as governments make concerted efforts to fight the continuous and dramatic increase of coronavirus. The psychological impact of quarantine can be great, resulting in a range of mental health concerns from anxiety, and anger to sleep disturbances, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
According to Frank McAndrew, an Evolutionary Psychologist at Knox College in Illinois, “Being quarantined gives one a sense of being at the mercy of other people and other uncontrollable forces such as an epidemic. This leads to a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty about the future that can be very unsettling”. Activities that create a sense of change and purpose, such as rearranging the furniture or cleaning the house, can help create stimulation.
But why is isolation so difficult for humans to withstand? One of the reasons that living in isolation is difficult is because humans are social creatures – yes, all of us. Loneliness can be damaging to both our mental and physical health. Socially isolated people are less able to deal with stressful situations.
Millions of people are coming to terms with being increasingly cut off from society. Beyond the inconvenience of working from home, or not being able to go to bars, restaurants or cinemas, however, experts have found that social isolation can have a profound effect on people’s physical, as well as mental health. Experts suggest that the negative feelings and experiences associated with prolonged isolation will come for us all.