Opinion: The anxiety of social isolation

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Photo by Edward Jenner from Pexels

It is hard to remember a time in where almost everyone in the entire world shared a collective experience. The closest I can recall was all the way back when Pokémon GO released in the summer of 2016. While the game itself was admittedly lacking in a lot of features, the strong sense of community that Pokémon GO provided was its main appeal. Currently, the world is sharing another collective experience, which is ironically on the other side of the spectrum.

As governments issue strict lock-down orders, the world seems to have been put on a standstill in terms of outdoor activity. With unemployment in the double digits, healthcare services being overwhelmed and the lack of substantial evidence as to when this pandemic will be over, the future is seemingly uncertain.

With all this in mind, social isolation has become the new norm for many over the past few months. As a student at Central Oregon Community College, it has taken some time for me to adjust to learning remotely. It is as if each day over the past month has blended into the next, which is reinforced by my increasingly bad sleep schedule.

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Admittedly, this is no fault other than my own. I am responsible for maintaining my own routine and balancing out my time accordingly. However, I can’t help but feel a sense of anxiety while staying at home for so long. While the abundance of spare time was fun at first, it seems the repetition of each day has begun to catch up with me. There is only so much entertainment I can consume before I ask myself what now?

Going on social media seems to alleviate some of the problem, with people from around the world sharing how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. While technology has disconnected us from reality in some respects, in other ways it has brought us closer together, especially in times of crisis. I am thankful that the internet allows for easy contact with my family overseas, something that would be exponentially harder to do even 20 years ago.

That does not take away from the fact that many feel stranded at homes, away from jobs, friends and other priorities. What else is there to do during social isolation? Mastering a skill seems like a fun way to pass the time, and learning a new language can be helpful. Another plus is having all the time in the world to exercise.

Then there are the little things that matter, too. Things like texting a friend who could really use the social interaction, donating to a local food bank, enjoying a short walk with your dog, thanking healthcare workers or face-timing your grandmother can all help in small but meaningful ways.

Even though COVID-19 may have lowered our morale, we still have a lot to be grateful for. Despite the fact self-isolation has made many feel more alone and disconnected from others, we are all in this together. The important thing to remember is that we are all dealing with this pandemic together, but in different ways. By reaching out and helping each other through this difficult time, maybe, just maybe, we can recreate the pleasantness of the summer of 2016 in the comfort of our own homes.

Luke Reynolds/The Broadside

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