Thick Blanket Of Isolation

Many people nowadays lead isolated lives, especially with the range of convenient services and opportunities available for people to remain indoors and away from the world. Television, cable, internet, computers, mobile telephones, all enable us to remain 'connected' with people without actually leaving our homes. However, with this freedom of information and convenience, we have effectively cut ourselves off from the outside world, whether we intended to or not.

We also seem to have "sped up" as a society, with workplaces wanting more from employees, customers expecting more from businesses, and an increasing number of people demanding more from themselves.

How do we find the balance?

So many of us speak about feeling misunderstood and disconnected; it is as though a thick blanket has been thrown over us, preventing us from tuning in to the world and each other.

What else can we do besides see our GP, talk to our psychologist or counsellor, and reading self-help books? Whether suffering from a mental illness, sadness or dissatisfaction with life in general, there are activities we can all engage in that could change our lives for the better.

"Getting back to basics" is a popular cliché, and like most clichés, the expression though familiar, has lost its potency. We hear the words used - perhaps overused - however unless we breathe meaning into them, we may never know their true value.

By engaging in basic grass roots activities, we gather the inner strength necessary to start moving out from under that thick blanket, even if it is only for a moment or two.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Get out in the garden or on the patio and get your hands dirty working with the earth and plants. Remember the fun you had as a kid making mud pies?
  • Hire out a bike with a friend and go for a ride near a river or botanical gardens. Do you have memories of learning to ride a bike as a child, with the handle bar tassels flying through the air?
  • Use basic communication skills, such as "I" statements: when you do [this], I feel [this], because of [this], instead of I need [this]
  • Turn the volume up on some of your favourite music and dance up a storm in your living room
  • Go for a walk around your neighbourhood, and focus your attention on the things that all too often go unnoticed: a flowering bush or fragrant tree that you brush past, a strange looking bug or a bird flying overhead.

I am not saying that these types of activities will completely eliminate depression or anxiety. However, it is often the simple things - the things we take for granted - that bring us joy and a wonderful sense of peace.

Our sophisticated technology may have re-invented words such as efficient and productivity, but it is the grass roots connections we establish with the earth, with our selves and with others, that nourish our minds and bodies. So next time you reach out to turn on your computer or television, take a brief walk outside and feel the sun's warmth on your skin, or if it's evening, gaze up at the night sky.

Slowing down to enjoy our surroundings is a choice that each of us can make.

Words by Louise Williams

Posted on 30 August 2005