As soon as the word “isolation” is mentioned, it is automatically perceived negatively, however as we know, nothing in this Universe exists without it’s opposite, the Universe along all its content is governed by balance. Nature gave us polarities, Spirituality gave us the yin and the yang, and therefore it’s very important that we always work towards creating balance in all aspects of our lives from an early age, including social isolation.
When a baby is born, that baby is provided with a safe and a calm environment, as it is very important for the physical and mental growth of the baby, to sleep and rest. Gradually parents start to expose this child to the outer world, sun light, smells, noise etc... for sensory development and growth.
As this child becomes a toddler and becomes more socially aware, and is being taught by his parents and caretakers the importance of socializing, it is equally important for that child to be taught about the importance of spending quality time alone, this gives the child the opportunity to think, create and dream, the child starts developing new skills, learn to entertain him or herself alone, therefore learn that happiness and entertainment doesn’t depend on others or outer factors. Kids need to know that there is a difference between Loneliness and aloneness, loneliness is related to a lack, a need, a suffering, aloneness on the other hand has a sense of being complete, content, it is simply the joy of being.
When this child is brought up socially balanced and gets to the teenage phase, then he or she will be better equipped to face this difficult stage, friends and family are essential, as well as quality time spent alone, specifically for studying and concentrating. According to a study done by Harvard university on a group of teenagers, they have noticed that teenagers who study alone have a better focus, concentration, a better memory hence a better performance in exams. From a different angle, Oxford University has pointed out the positive aspects of group studies, and the benefits of having motivation created by the peers, and the possibilities of asking questions, sharing ideas and getting clarifications.
When social isolation is involuntary, caused by sickness, a physical handicap, a mental health issue, or a change in environment, like a change of school or country, specially with a forced migration due to war or other reasons, in that case this imposed isolation is very likely to cause depression and mental health issues.
An individual who is not emotionally equipped or never been taught that” happiness grows from within”, and that the outer world is nothing but a contributing factor not an indispensable ingredient to our happiness, this individual is going to have a culture shock once forced to move or change environment, a forced exit from the comfort zone is not going to be well received. In such cases social isolation is a normal reaction as we are naturally scared of the unknown and tend to hide from it.
Self development and adapting the attitude of facing our fears rather than running away from them, is essential in order for us to carry on in life, equipped with whatever needed so we can face life with all the bumps in the road. Getting out of our comfort zone and adapting to a new environment and situations, is very beneficial mentally, it actually makes us smarter, new neural pathways are created to enable us deal with this new situation which is unfamiliar. When we keep doing the same things that we do, we are operating on auto pilot mode, we do need to challenge our brain to keep it healthy the same way we need to change our exercise routine constantly in order to achieve results.
When social isolation is voluntary, it is usually temporary; it’s probably a phase that one needs for different reasons. It is commonly seen in artists, writers, creators, as they flee their social environment in search for solitude on a deserted island or a faraway village in order to attain inspiration and come up with their master piece. Others, more on the extrovert side, depends on people, parties and social events to get inspired or to find their muses.
A balanced “Social isolation” or better called “Solo quality time” has a constructive role, it helps with
Concentration, recreation, rest. It makes us more innovative, more creative. Humans are inclined to imitate others around them, specially these days with the impact of social media and influencers. Disconnecting every now and then is actually very helpful. Solitude is tied to creativity not because we concentrate on whatever task we have in hands and the dissipation of energy on social matters unrelated to our task, but because it frees us from the strictures of fitting in even unconsciously.
When social isolation turns to loneliness and becomes chronic, it is a sign of depression and mental health issues, professional help is to be sought immediately.
If there is a lesson to be learnt, I would summarise by saying, be mindful in your isolation and socialization, always find the positive side in any situation and reap the benefits it has to offer.