After spending all of 2020 in isolation, and with continued limited social interaction due to mandates and a lot of us still working remotely, let’s face it – socializing is a little clumsier than it used to be. A lot of us self-proclaimed social butterflies are now experiencing hermit crab tendencies. And while these new feelings of over-sensitivity and apprehension seem personal, the good news is they’re not. Most of us are feeling the same way. And the even better news is that there are biological reasons for this phenomenon.
There have been many studies showing that social skills are like muscles that atrophy from lack of use. People separated from society — by circumstance or by choice — report feeling more socially anxious, impulsive, awkward, and impatient when they return to normal life. The truth is even the most introverted among us are wired to crave company. It’s an evolutionary necessity because, historically, there’s been safety in numbers. So, feeling lonely or isolated is as much a biological signal that your body is lacking something as hunger or thirst. And just like not eating when you’re starved or not drinking when you’re dehydrated, failing to interact with others when you are lonely leads to negative cognitive and emotional effects.
A lot of our clients, especially in the last year, mention feelings of loneliness and depression. Even if you have a romantic partner or family members, you can still feel lonely or irritable when they are the only interaction you have. Almost like not eating a balanced diet, you’re not getting the full range of human interactions that you need. We underestimate how much we benefit from casual companionship at the office, gym, school, and extracurricular activities, not to mention random interactions with strangers.
When something feels uncomfortable, the natural tendency is to refrain from doing it. And while choosing to stay home feels more comfortable than dealing with feelings of agitation and clumsiness in social situations, prolonged solitude only contributes to your loneliness. Just like any muscle, the more you use your social skills, the stronger they become. We all know achieving our desired physique doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time and work. So, before you swear off the outside world for good, know that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. As much as it’s safe to do so, encourage yourself to connect with people. Your well-being depends on it. Yes, it’s going to be awkward, but it’s only temporary. Have patience for your own and other people’s weirdness.
If you or someone you care about has been arrested for a DUI in Oregon, please call us at (503)610-4475. We’re solid, we’re here if you need us and we’re very good at what we do.