Being a new student on campus, whether you’re a freshman or a transfer student, can be tough.
Even the extroverts who make assimilation look easy have their own adjustment period they have to go through. A new environment, new social circles and groups, all of the changes that come with enrolling in a new school can be overwhelming to anyone.
Social anxiety, new educational stressors and homesickness are all factors that can lead to new students isolating themselves. Though avoiding social activities might feel as if it temporarily reduces your anxiety, it’s not a healthy or sustainable approach to life’s inevitable changes.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at isolation, the various ways it can affect college students, and how it can lead to or exacerbate mental health issues in them.
What is isolation?
Isolation is a state of loneliness, one where you feel without friends, support or help.
Even though isolation can be lonely and take a negative toll on your overall quality of life, it can become “comfortable,” making it difficult to break out of. Staying isolated doesn’t require you to take chances or risks, meet new people or leave your comfort zone; the longer you stay there, the more comfortable you become, and the more normal it seems.
Isolation can become a habit, a default lifestyle, but it’s not one you have to be resigned to. For your mental, emotional and physical health, it’s important you learn how to break out of isolation.
What causes isolation?
What leads to isolation will vary slightly per individual, as the contributing factors are going to be different with each person’s situation.
A young woman – who experienced bullying in high school may immediately isolate herself upon arrival on a new campus as a “survival” mechanism (whether intentionally or subconsciously).
A young man – who never received the proper treatment to recover from depression may carry the condition to college and experience isolation because of the effects of the disorder.
Isolation can occur because of factors outside of your control, in the case of being denied access to certain social circles or clubs. It can also be self-inflicted through repeated decisions to turn down invitations, avoid social activities and not attending other various events.
Leaving home in and of itself can trigger feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially if it’s your first time, or if your college is far away.
As heavy as isolation can feel, it’s never something you cannot break out of.
Sometimes isolation can be beneficial to our mental or physical health. Removing ourselves from unhealthy or blatantly toxic relationships or environments can help remind us of
How does isolation affect a person?
There are times when isolating ourselves from others (temporarily or long-term) can be beneficial.
For example, removing yourself from a toxic environment or relationship might lead to a period of “isolation” in which you take the time to reassess what you deserve and what you desire. You may take a period of time to yourself to rest, recover and then begin rebuilding your new goals.
For many college students, though, the isolation they’re experiencing is a heavy, suffocating feeling that leaves them suffering alone, unsure of how and if they can ever break out of it.
The toll that social isolation takes on our lives is not only mental but emotional and physical as well.
Some of the most common effects of isolation include:
- A weakened immune system (getting sick often)
- Significant weight gain or weight loss
- Heightened levels of stress
- Hair loss and skin issues (acne, dry skin, etc.)
- Mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.)
- Sleep issues like insomnia or sleeping too much
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
If you or someone you care about is suffering from isolation, send us a message today. It’s okay if you aren’t ready to enroll in one of our programs, we’re here to help however we can.
Speak with an advisor today
Here at High Focus Centers, our mission is to help adolescents and adults who are struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues, find long-term healing.
It can be hard to reach out for help when you’re already struggling with anxiety, depression, isolation or several of these, but right now, all you have to do is send us a message. Our team of experienced, trauma-fluent physicians is ready to help you take the first step today.
Isolation can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be your reality. Even if it sounds scary, you can build the courage, confidence and excitement to meet new people, join new groups and participate in new activities. You deserve to live a life that’s full of joy and fulfillment.
Give us a call at 800-877-3628 to learn more about how you can get started today.