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How solitude and isolation can affect your social skills

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201022-how-solitude-and-isolation-can-change-how-you-think

bbc.com

How solitude and isolation can affect your social skills
Humans are deeply social creatures, so what happens when we’re alone for a long time?

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Losing Your Identity

Losing Your Identity

Humans are social creatures, interdependent on one another. Socializing is at its core, a mental workout, and an essential part of brain development.

Being alone, one can start to lose the sense of who one is, as our identity requires a reflection from others to become real. Self-isolation, with zero interaction with other people, makes a person disappear gradually.

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Being Alone Affects The Brain

Human beings form social circles averaging to 150 individuals; this is called the Dunbar’s Number.

A lack of people around us can actually make our brain shrink. The region known for formation of new memories, called the 'dentate gyrus', reduces in size if there is no human interaction. There is also a reduction in spatial processing (locating objects in a given space) and focus.

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Solitude, Loneliness And Isolation

Positive solitude is a state of being alone without being lonely, in a contented manner.

Loneliness, on the other hand, is isolation with a hunger for social contact, something that distorts one’s perceptions, damaging the ability to interact in a normal way with others. It also lowers one’s self-esteem leading to a loneliness loop, characterized by social withdrawal and depression.

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Socially Awkward

Social bonding is essential to almost all animals, with even rats who live alone being shunned by groups of rats.

Likewise, humans need face-to-face interactions. Teens spending time alone start to show signs that they are not socially competent, even though they would love to connect with others, even if the other person is a stranger.

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Detecting Loneliness

Detecting Loneliness
  • Scientific literature has linked loneliness to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and drug abuse.
  • Loneliness makes you more likely to fall ill by suppressing healthy immune function....

Loneliness is subjective

It's possible to be completely isolated and feel invigorated.

It is also possible to be surrounded by a crowd or be accompanied by close friends and feel lonely.

Research on loneliness findings

  • Research showed that after social isolation, subjects' brain scans showed more activity in the midbrain when shown pictures of social cues.
  • When subjects were hungry but had not been socially isolated, they showed a similar reaction to food cues, but not social ones. This shows that the drive for social contact and for things like food seems to be represented in a similar way.

one more idea

Being alone during a pandemic

Being alone and, therefore, forced to face our own thoughts, can prove rather disturbing. People need other people to feel well: being sociable is not anymore just a skill to develop, it is a mere ...

Enforced solitude and its advantages

The current pandemic has us facing one of our biggest fears: staying alone, dealing with our own emotions and thoughts. However, this situation has also a great deal of advantages. While in self-isolation, we can use this time to improve ourselves by discovering new hobbies or just developing skills we have already gathered, cultivating our mind through reading. In fewer words, we finally have the time to learn how to deal with ourselves. And this is always a good thing.

The wonders of a clear sense of purpose during isolation

As difficult as it may seem, self-isolation has its benefits. When spending your time alone, the key to handle this situation is to find a purpose in your suffering. In other words, focus on why your suffering is doing good to others as well as to yourself. Furthermore, the fact that you stick to a certain routine or that
everybody is doing the same thing provides you not only with a meaning, but also with a sense of belonging.

Being a Loner can be good

  • Emerging research suggests there are upsides to being reclusive, all by ourselves, minding our own business – for both our work lives and our emotional well-being.
  • Prolonged solitude ...

Improved creativity

  • Being a loner boosts the creative space.
  • Creativity has two key elements: originality and usefulness. 
  • Personality traits commonly associated with creativity are openness (or receptiveness), self-efficacy (confidence), and autonomy (independence).

Types of Social Withdrawal

Social withdrawal is categorized into three types:

  1. Shyness caused by fear or anxiety
  2. Avoidance, caused by a dislike of socializing
  3. Unsociability, caused by a preference for being alone.