As tempting as it may be, it’s important to remember that isolating yourself never actually makes you feel better. It may feel like a quick fix, but it’s not a solution. By staying isolated you keep yourself from developing more effective coping tools for handling your mood disorder, and you end up perpetuating a cycle of isolating behaviors that keep you running in place rather than moving forward.
It can be difficult to challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone, but remind yourself that no one grows by staying comfortable. It’s a willingness to make a change – to sit with feelings of discomfort – that creates room for growth. In other words,
“Nothing changes if nothing changes.”
If you’re feeling unsure of how to make a change, the following suggestions may be helpful in getting you started. Don’t feel the need to make any huge, drastic changes: baby steps can add up to big progress.
- It Starts at Home: If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of even leaving the house, start small. Reach out by making a phone call to a friend or family member. Send an email or a text message. Ask a friend of family member to visit you at home for a cup of coffee, to watch a movie, or to have dinner.
- Find a Community: Finding a support group or community – either online or in your area – can help you feel more connected and less isolated. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance both offer online resources and support.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
- Keep it Low Pressure: Challenge yourself to spend some time in public places that don’t require much interaction. Read a book in a coffee shop. Go for a walk in the park. See a movie. Push yourself to spend some time outside and in public spaces.
- Make an Appointment: Set a specific date, time, and place to meet someone. It can be easy to talk yourself out of getting out of the house, but if you schedule something specific, you’re less likely to make an excuse – nor will you want to disappoint the person you’re meeting.
- Keep Going: Don’t get discouraged if you feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to start small – you don’t have to run out the door and sign up to lead a book club or start a class in public speaking. Try setting some small, manageable goals that will keep you challenged. Check in with a friend or family member every few days. Schedule a weekly trip to the park or your local coffee shop to catch up on some reading. Remember that it’s only through challenging yourself that you can expect things to change.