There are times when our world gets smaller. Maybe too small. Illness keeps us confined at home. Caring for others takes all our time. Deadlines and commitments keep us running from place to place, merely waving to the people we love as we scurry past.

If too much time passes, that breeds isolation, and isolation is emotional quicksand, pure and simple.

Whether we’re introverts or extroverts, we’re all social beings. The type and level of social interaction we need may vary, but if we spend too much time alone inside our own head, all sorts of nasty things try to move into the space where friends and family should be.

Scary, ugly critters like the doubt gremlins will try to move into your life, bringing their evil cousins depression, anxiety and self-pity along for the ride.

What’s a creative person to do?

Know yourself

I’m a writer. I’m also a people person. After several years of freelancing, I realized I was going stark, raving mad at home all day. The loneliness got to me. I needed to expand my world so I’d be happy when I did go back into my office. My solution was to become a boat captain. I absolutely love being outside on the water, around people. It provides the balance I need for the times I’m hunched over my computer.

Take an honest look at your life and make changes, if necessary. I’m not necessarily advocating a whole new career, but see if there’s a part of your personality you’re not taking care of.

Reach out–then go out

Isolation breeds isolation. The reality is that the longer we’re alone, the harder it is to get out the door. Make yourself do it anyway. Go sit out in the sunshine, go for a walk, call a friend. Better yet, meet a friend for coffee, or invite someone to a movie. Take that first step. Reach out. Especially when you don’t want to. That’s a sure sign you NEED to.

 

Connie Mann_photos

Dinner at a Mexican Restaurant in Copenhagen, 2011

I have to say here, if isolation has slid down into depression, please, please, please, call someone. Today. Right now. Call a friend, a clergy member, your doctor. Don’t suffer in silence. Help is out there. Truly. You really are not alone.

Look up

When our world gets smaller, we get tunnel vision. All we can see is what’s right in front of us. Last week my to-do list completely overwhelmed me. I talked with a friend and with hubby and they helped me reset my perspective. I looked up from my list long enough to see the big picture again. I’d gotten so bogged down I lost sight of it completely. Whatever mud puddle you’re in, you won’t be in it forever. Shake the mud off your boots and look up at the sunshine.

Expand your world

One of the best ways I know to break the isolation spiral is to help someone else. The moment I start doing that, it sends self-pity packing. It isn’t always easy to see beyond our own needs to those around us, but it’s one of the best things we can do—for them…and for us.

What’s your best strategy when your world gets too small?

PS—For those of you helping me count down to Angel Falls’ release on March 1st, Fresh Fiction just posted a great review, calling the story, “a perfect blend of fast-paced thriller, inspiration and romance.” Visit Fresh Fiction to read the whole review. I’m also delighted to have a sneak peek of Angel Falls featured on The Women of Valley View blog this week.