Astha Mahajan, Dealing with Social Isolation, A fall out of Social Distancing or Emerging Feeling in Young Adolescents

Astha Mahajan, is a Counselling Psychologist, she has done her M.A in Psychology and B.Ed. She has an experience of more than 12 years in education counselling. Currently she is a Senior School Counsellor at DPS Mathura Road.

Many of our young adolescent are experiencing social isolation even after being socially connected with their peers online on social media. The reason is peer group socialization influences more than parental figures in adolescent years especially in the development of their personality. Hanging out in peer groups give them better understanding of self in relation to others. 

But are they really feeling socially isolated or addicted to social networking as they are seen online all the time is the question most of the parents are confused with today? 

The fact is most of the adolescents by now have realized that the virtual self they usually portray on social media is way different from their real self and if this is true for them it’s true for everybody else out there too. That is why they are lacking the assurance of having real friends who will be there at the time of need. Just imagine a young adolescent not having a crush on anyone as he thinks all the photographs of his fellow mates on social media or what they show their personality to be is fake, photoshopped or just a show-off and not real.

One way out of this is to pick up a task or a project that you can do with along with your peers. Because we get to know each other better either when we meet in person or work on something together for a week or a month. This will not let you feel alone rather having group goals will enhance your bonding with your other mates. The best part is earlier in your classroom you could feel more competition but now there is no competition only teamwork. Each one of you can contribute with your talents. Try picking up those peers from your class who you think you haven’t got a chance to know more, or you haven’t ever tried to communicate with and see the difference yourself.

Now this feeling of social Isolation is rising more day by day with an automatic increase in their level of anxiety when they hear people getting sick and dying all around them in the news all over or WhatsApp groups messages or other social media sites. You can definitely ask them to get rid of their phones or online activities for a while and plan their day in a way that there is one thing new that they did or they have to think about and work on for e.g.  pick up new book to read and after they finish they can discuss it with a close friend or may be watch a new movie and share their views or they can learn to cook a new healthy dish or  may be one can even start tutoring one’s own house helper’s child who is abandoned from going to school and has no online education is being provided to him or her anything that makes them feel more empowered or good about themselves that they haven’t tried till now but let it be their choice. 

Still the fear of losing their loved ones has affected their sense of security in some way that these young adolescents get from being in one’s own family or with their close ones sharing one roof especially when they are in the age of formation of self-identity and trust. Many unfortunately have also lost their family members, parents in this pandemic and still figuring out how to cope with such a loss or grief. It will indeed take a long time to come out of the kind of trauma especially for those who have experienced such situations already. Yet the only way to come out of grief is through gratitude and having a larger purpose in life. 

Thus, it is very important that adults in the family keep talking to children positively and provide them comfort emotionally at least for developing that sense of security and trust that is developed through physical attachment or proximity otherwise. In many families which are affected due to COVID some of the family members must live in self isolation for a long period of time which leads to a more stressful environment in their home. The only way to reduce stress in that case is by staying positive mentally and working together to come out of this situation collectively. 

Here, I would also like to suggest to all young adolescents to take charge by collaborating with others in society rather letting that stress affect them negatively. Know how others are dealing with it but do not let their stress get passed on to you. Seeking support from the right place and right people is very important and not getting carried away by media or any one person who is only showing you a one-sided negative picture of the whole situation. We must not forget that adolescents have the maximum energy and thus if they stay mentally positive, they can really help not just themselves but their families also to come out of it. Adolescents must share their positive experiences of dealing with tough times on their social networking sites. 

They must acknowledge and show gratitude to friends and family members who came in support of them at the time of need. This will help build a positive environment leading to a positive feeling in them at the same time. They must also share their learnings whether they have learnt a new skill or read a new book and refer it to their other peers who might be going through feelings of loneliness and depression as it can help them. 

Another important way out for feeling more positive and socially, emotionally connected with others is by “Helping others” or “altruistic behaviours” that work both ways for our wellbeing and wellbeing of others. Therefore, we must inculcate the not just the attitude of gratitude but also that attitude of helping others and promote such behaviours. As when we try and reach out to others for help, we not only feel confident and positive about dealing with our own stresses in life but also inspire others. It gives us a sense of purpose at the same time too even though we may not be able to help or the right person who can help but just listening to someone in need and trying to help makes all the difference at times. I can say this from my personal experience being a Counsellor. 

Remember: when we indulge in positive actions it leads to positive thoughts making us feel more positive in life. 

How to feel positive in a negative situation? 

Simply by talking positively with yourself make it a regular practice when alone or rather when you are feeling lonely. Give yourself enough positive self-affirmations- This shall pass, the tough gets the toughest going etc. you can’t just think or feel positive without telling yourself positive things and believing in them. Empathize just because I have not got what everybody else have does not mean I have not been blessed enough maybe I have not seen those who don’t have what I have. Change your view or perspectives of looking at things to a more positive one.

Lastly, when you check on others or show concern and care for others well-being it instantly makes them feel important in life evoking positive feelings or emotions in them. So keep checking up on your near and dear ones. You are never alone- everybody needs somebody be that somebody and you will never be alone in life.

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