The Psychological Effects of Social Isolation

Increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar others, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli. These are some of the effects of social isolation described in a study done by Moriel Zelikowsky and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Zelikowsky et al., 2018).

Social Isolation

In another meta-analysis done at University of Surrey and Brunel University London, researchers found that social isolation could be linked to increased inflammation in the body (Smith et al., 2020).

As Kimberley Smith, a lecturer in Health Psychology at the University of Surrey, explains, “Loneliness and social isolation have been shown to increase our risk of poorer health. Many researchers propose that part of the reason for this is because they influence the body’s inflammatory response.”

Another study found that social isolation is linked to increased risk of mortality (Alcaraz et al., 2018).

Social isolation, while it might have been something we spoke about rather infrequently in the past, now seems like it is a new normal. It is necessary. We need to do everything we can to stop the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

But just how this affects us mentally and physically is another matter altogether. While it is important to stop the spread of the coronavirus, social isolation is not good for our health – mentally or physically. And even before quarantine orders were put in place, social isolation was a growing problem. In the United States, for example, about half of people older than 85 live alone, and decreased mobility or ability to drive may cut opportunities for other socialization (Brown et al., 2017).

Social Isolation is a “Silent Killer”

Moreover, during a U.S. Senate hearing on aging issues in the spring of 2018, a representative for the Gerontological Society of America urged lawmakers to support programs that help older adults stay connected to their communities, stating that social isolation is a “silent killer that places people at higher risk for a variety of poor health outcomes.”

Now, more than ever, the effects of social isolation will be felt, and more so by those already at risk, as the coronavirus is much more deadly to the elderly population.

There is hope, however. In a study that appeared in the American Journal of Epidemiology, in 2018, the authors concluded that most detrimental were “the lack of interpersonal connections.” When people were able to develop and maintain more interpersonal connections – remotely or otherwise – the effects of social isolation were not nearly as powerful (Alcaraz et al., 2018).

So where does this leave us? Now, more than ever, is the time to pick up the phone, send an email, text, or message, reach out, and stay connected. Your brain and body will thank you.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Courses:

Managing Anger & Aggressive Behavior is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE) course that provides strategies for dealing with anger and aggression in clinical practice. Click here to learn more.

Psychological Effects of Media Exposure is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the psychological effects that media exposure has on both the witnesses and victims of traumatic events. Click here to learn more.

Psychological Effects of Ostracism is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that explores the effects of ostracism and social exclusion in both children and adults – in the real world, and online. Click here to learn more.

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!

Self-Actualization in a Time of Social Isolation

The social isolation that has been imposed on us all as a result of the coronavirus COVID-19 may seem like a period of waiting. We are effectively stuck – without further notice.

Social Isolation

That is the physical reality. Yet the psychological reality is that the physical environment we find ourselves in need not determine our psychological milieu. In short, we need not be stuck in a psychological sense. We can grow psychologically, even in a time of social isolation.

Abraham Maslow defined self-actualization as “the desire for self-fulfillment, namely the tendency for him [the individual] to become actualized in what he is potentially.”

Maslow described self-actualization as a “desire” that makes us want to realize what we are capable of, to use the full extent of our strengths, and to realize our fullest potential. When we are pursuing self-actualization, explained Maslow, we are also pursuing our “true self.”

At its’ core, self-actualization is growth-motivated. The opposite of self-actualization then is the pursuit and expansion of our deficiencies.

But all self-actualization begins with two realizations: we are not at our full potential, and we want to realize our full potential.

The first one can be a challenge, yet the reality is that potential is very hard to predict. We simply do not know what we are capable of until we try. That, however, should be an inspiration. Inside of every person could be a fabulous artist, musician, dancer, writer, or athlete, waiting to be discovered.

Social isolation can be a time of self-reflection and growth - time to find the artist inside of us all.

The desire for self-actualization is something that, Maslow believed, exists in every person. For many of us, however, life gets in the way. We may simply do not have time to pursue what doesn’t pay the bills, get the house clean, raise the children, or feed the dog.

But you may have the time now. This prolonged period of social isolation can also be a period of reflection. A time to ask yourself if you are living the life you really want. To question the choices you have made, to consider what truly brings you the most joy, and to reflect on what is most important to you.

Sure, the pursuit of many of these things may not be possible at the moment. But the process of recognizing them is possible. You may find that there are things you have passed by without taking the time they deserve. You may find that you made choices more out of a sense of necessity than desire. And you may find that there are things that you would have done differently if you had a choice.

There may be many things that you cannot change. But what you can change is that you give yourself the time and the psychological space to recognize what is most important to you and to identify what you would most like to accomplish. All great things begin with a recognition of what we want. Now is your time to put your finger on it.

Related Online Continuing Education (CE) Course:

In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits…

This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate. When in flow we experience a profound and dramatic shift in the way we experience ourselves, our capabilities, and the world around us. Our focus sharpens, our strengths are heightened, we feel an intense sense of euphoria and connection to the world around us, and we often realize capabilities we didn’t know were possible. For clients, flow doesn’t just help them become more capable, it dramatically improves their lives – teaching them not just to expect more from themselves, but how to cultivate the very conditions that make expecting more possible. This course, packed with exercises, tips, and tools, will demonstrate just how flow can be incorporated into your everyday life, and used to help your clients move from simply surviving to a life that harnesses and builds upon their own unique potential to thrive. Course 21-11 | 2016 | 30 pages | 15 posttest questions 

Professional Development Resources is a nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) organized in 1992. We are approved to sponsor continuing education by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Georgia State Board of Occupational Therapy; the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors (#MHC-0135); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners; and are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within a few days of completion).

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

PDR offers over 150 accredited online CE courses for healthcare professionals. 

Target AudiencePsychologistsSchool PsychologistsCounselorsSocial WorkersMarriage & Family Therapists (MFTs)Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)Occupational Therapists (OTs)Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs), and Teachers

Enjoy 20% off all online continuing education (CE/CEU) courses @pdresources.orgClick here for details.

Earn CE Wherever YOU Love to Be!