Tackling social isolation is the underlying goal of everything we do at Lovesweats. But what does social isolation even mean? Below is my interpretation...
First off, social isolation isn’t synonymous with being alone. You can be surrounded by people and still feel isolated, and you can also choose to be alone and feel blissful solitude. There are also two forms of social isolation - actual and perceived.
‘Actual’ social isolation is typically defined as lack of quality social connections and low levels of participation in and/or exclusion from society. Whereas ‘perceived’ social isolation is more focussed around feelings of loneliness and a perceived lack of social support. Both are relevant and are a cause and an effect of a number of physical and mental health problems.
It can be a cycle disconnectedness. For example someone experiencing mental ill health may choose to withdraw from society to avoid stigmatisation and in turn, this decrease in quality social engagement may increase their levels of isolation and loneliness.
Research suggests that there is a reciprocal relationship between between loneliness, social isolation and physical health, including increased inflammation and low immune systems. Does this mean that in some cases you could reduce your pain and inflammation levels by a daily increase in the length of your hugs, eye contact and deepening the intimacy of your conversations?
For anyone that wants to join this conversation and learn more about this topic, we will be running a community event soon and delving a little deeper into the impact that social isolation has on health and wellbeing. Keep your eyes peeled!
Love S x