How to Deal With Isolation: 7 Incredible Tips When Feeling Alone

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Are you isolated? I know firsthand what it feels like to deal with isolation; I just went through it for four months prior to COVID-19.

I have suffered through Crohn’s disease, a 7-year family estrangement, job changes, down-sizing homes, and other difficult life issues, but this latest trial was one of the hardest because it happened to my child.

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deal with isolation

Last summer my daughter suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) due to a car wreck and two direct hits to the head (from passing out) all within a short amount of time.

She suffered from headaches, slow processing, light sensitivity, balance issues, nausea, and depression. In fact, the physical therapist said it was one of the worst types of head injuries she had seen in a patient. This diagnosis was from someone who treated the Dallas Cowboys and pro soccer players for head injuries.

The concussion not only affected my daughter, but it impacted our whole family. Someone had to stay with her all the time to care for her.

She was isolated at home, in a dark room, for months. Sadly, the doctor could not tell us if or when she would get better.

If you are dealing with isolation or suffering from great fear due to the unknown, I am writing to you. You are not alone in your pain. Most of all, I want to give you hope.

God has not forgotten you, nor has he played a cruel joke on you and your family. What you think is horrible, God will use for good.

RELATED: How to Not Lose Faith: 7 People Who Were One Hot Mess

When Isolation Lasts Longer Than You Planned

When my daughter was first injured, we had no idea how long we were going to deal with isolation. Over time we realized the healing process was going to be slow and painful. In fact, it would require an enormous amount of patience.

To add insult to injury, her twenty-first birthday landed during that time period. It felt like the timing couldn’t have been worse.

It seemed so unfair.

The thing we struggled with the most was how long it was going to last. Daily I came to God with my questions and worries but found very little answers.

Somewhere in the middle of the trial, God started answering. I found Him telling me over and over again that we would not deal with isolation one more second than He allowed. That her suffering was not in vain. And neither was ours.

He was accomplishing something that would take time to resolve. I finally had to give over the question of timing and trust that God was not out to get me or my child.

Whatever time that had been allotted was bound by His command. It would relent when He was done working out His plan.

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deal with isolation

What Does Isolation Feel Like?

If you have been isolated for any amount of time, you understand what it feels like to be cut off from the world.

It doesn’t take long for depression, fear, and anger to settle in.

Because my daughter had to be in a dark room, depression hit her like a gorilla swinging a wrecking ball. We were all grieving her loss, but she felt it deeper than I could ever fathom. That was hard to witness as a mother. Truthfully, my heart was broken in a million pieces.

I didn’t go into a deep depression, although I was depressed some days… but I did suffer fear. Question after question kept me up at night. I spent hours online researching remedies, doctors, treatments, etc. trying to fix my daughter’s brain.

Some mornings I woke up in sheer panic as I faced another day that looked the same as the day before. It seemed my prayers were hitting the ceiling, and we were going to be trapped forever in that spot.

RELATED: The 6 Best Secrets to Stop Living in Fear

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Another emotion I felt was anger. I didn’t understand why God would allow her to be ripped away from her college, her friends…her whole life. And without notice. One day our lives were busy and fruitful, the next day we were home alone, sidelined indefinitely.

I was left alone in my home with no foreseeable way out. I was angry at God for taking my precious daughter’s life away and putting her on hold with no explanation.

The last emotion I felt was frustration with my husband. The trial put a huge strain on our marriage as we were trying to unify on a plan to help my daughter get well. We both had different ideas.

To complicate matters, my daughter was twenty-one and didn’t have to do anything we suggested. And she didn’t for a good while. That was fun…

We were in a pickle. It took a while to unravel all the components, but over time we did. Thankfully, she did come through it completely by God’s grace.

Although it was hard, there were some good things we learned to do through our trial. Let me share what we did.

RELATED: The Best Way to Change Your Husband Through Prayer

Seven Ways to Deal With Isolation

You may wonder how to deal with isolation. Check out these seven suggestions:

1. Embrace Your Calling

I had to realize my calling for that time period was to help my daughter get back on her feet. Perhaps you are not dealing with a physical injury, but you are at home with kids all day. Or you are experiencing a “shelter in place” type of moment.

After a while, it is hard to have a good attitude. Whatever your lot, embrace this moment to love those who are at home with you despite your anger, frustration, or fear. Take advantage of the time to repair relationships that may be broken. Or strengthen ones that have been neglected.

RELATED: Estranged: How to Heal a Broken Family Relationship

2. Look Up

When I am in the middle of a trial, I always look up and ask God what He is doing. Most of the time, I find He is working on my behaviors, thoughts, motives, or even inactions that may be plaguing my life.

I knew that God wanted to use my time of isolation as a tool to refine my heart. And so I let Him. Not an easy thing to give over, but I knew it would be good in the long run. Are you willing to do this?

3. Let Go

Let go of all your expectations. You are not in control.

I had to realize God was not only working on me, but He was also working on my daughter. This was going to take time. I wish there were an easier way to zap us into the likeness of Jesus, but we are fallen creatures. Unfortunately, we don’t learn very fast.

When you deal with isolation, you have to let go of everything. Trust that God is working in his way and in His time. Stop toiling. Do what you can and let God do the rest.

RELATED: 5 Awesome Truths When You Feel God Has Left You

4. Create fun

Find something fun to do when you are isolated. Take a long bath, paint your nails, find a good book, make a fun meal, or start writing. You can make life interesting no matter how bad it is.

I read books to my daughter while she was in bed. We listened to music and podcasts. We tried to find humor in even the worst of times. I listened to her when she wanted to talk (since I had nowhere to go).

I found joy in the smallest things. A smile, a laugh, or time outside in the sun. We celebrated even the smallest of accomplishments such as walking down the street, time talking to a friend or fewer doses of medicine.

The best thing we did was to buy a dog. She still brings us joy every day!

deal with isolation

My daughter with her dog.

5. Exercise everyday

Get outside and walk if it all possible. Do yoga, stretches, lift weights–whatever is available. It will help you when you feel stir crazy. It will not only strengthen you physically but emotionally.

Depression can hit very fast. It only takes a few days to set in so be vigilant at keeping this at bay.

6. Watch how you cope

Watch for unhealthy coping mechanisms as you deal with isolation. Whatever you do in moderation may kick up to full drive during this time of stress. Many people turn to drugs, alcohol, or other addictions to pass the time.

I found myself eating a few too many chips late at night when I couldn’t sleep. Ten pounds later, I realized what I was doing. It was hard to stop, but I did.

7. Pray and fast

I spent a lot of time praying on behalf of my daughter. My husband and I both fasted many times. I have always seen the biggest mountains moved when fasting is added to prayer.

Miraculously, I saw God work during those four months of isolation. In fact, most of the breakthroughs came when my daughter started praying.

RELATED: How to Pray With Power in Your War Room

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What Happened After the Isolation Was Over?

Thankfully, our isolation ended. And yours will too. You will look back and realize you learned so much from your time alone. Here are a few truths my daughter and I learned after we had to deal with isolation.

Here are the truths my daughter learned:

  • Your identity is not defined by what other people think. It is defined by what God thinks.
  • When you focus on yourself all the time, your mental health can become extremely unhealthy.
  • Family is so important.
  • God’s Word is true no matter what.
  • Social media is addictive and can sometimes lead to mental health issues.
  • Satan loves to isolate us and tell us we are the only ones going through a trial.
  • God will never leave us nor forsake us.
  • If it feels like shame, it is from the devil.
  • Health is wealth.
  • Asking for help is a good thing.
  • Medicine and medical treatments are okay

RELATED: The Ugly Truth About Shame, Embarrassment, and Guilt

These are the truths I learned from being isolated:

  • God has a reason for our pain. If we had not been isolated together, we would not have worked through other issues that were hurting our relationship.
  • God has a plan. He provided a college closer to home that had my daughter’s major.
  • God answers prayers. I prayed my daughter would be well enough to attend the Christmas Eve service at our church. That was her first time out in a large group and marked the end of our isolation. What a miracle.
  • I can trust God in even the worst situations.
  • God’s timing is perfect.
  • God is in control; I am not.

God used the time of isolation and fear to strip us of every idol we thought we had to have to make us happy and helped us to see what was truly important in times of crisis–family and faith.

Proverbs 3:5-6  says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

How do you deal with isolation?

Do You Have Family Problems? There is Hope!

Are you experiencing family problems or even estranged? Are you feeling shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

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This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family, but it also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain.

Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart!

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Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids.  It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.

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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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Julie Plagens

21 Comments

  1. Lindsay Madsen on April 18, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story Julie! This short isolation is nothing compared to what you and your family had to endure but I love your perspective on coming out of it and what you learned. All in God’s time. Thank you for all the practice tips.

    • Julie Plagens on April 20, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Lindsay, thanks so much for your sweet comment. Isolation is still hard for us, but we can see how God works in the most difficult situations. I hope we all learn how to deal with isolation in this hard time.

  2. Jasmine Hewitt on April 16, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    these are great tips, i think the isolation is getting to most people

    • Julie Plagens on April 20, 2020 at 10:38 am

      Jasmine, that is true. Learning how to deal with isolation is not an easy thing. The best way is to trust God during the pain.

  3. Leslie on April 15, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Isolation is a good way to clear out old trauma and new. I’ve recently found this to be true in my house as well. I am so glad you and your family got through it, your daughter is lucky to have such a strong family.

    • Julie Plagens on April 15, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      Leslie, thank you so much. We are blessed. I pray your family stays healthy through this difficult time of isolation. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Judith Okech on April 15, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Despite living in isolation by chance and not by choice due to the pandemic, I just realized I got isolated by some close allies due to issues they did not understand. I looked up to God and prayed. I’m trusting I will overcome. Thanks for your encouraging article.

    • Julie Plagens on April 15, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Judith, I am so sorry you had to pull away from close allies to protect yourself. God can work out so pretty powerful things when you are alone. We have to time to think through things and make changes. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Tinashe Jaricha on April 3, 2020 at 4:35 am

    This is awesome! I look up to God, praying and having fun in times of isolation. Thank you for sharing your story and lessons learned 😊

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      Tinashe, wow, I am so glad that isolation is not too bad for you. We could all learn from your positive attitude.

  6. Emily on April 1, 2020 at 8:32 am

    Great tips!! Isolation can be difficult for anyone but especially hard for those dealing with depression. You offer so many great ways to help cope when you’re forced to be isolated.

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:21 pm

      Emily, it is hard to deal with isolation, especially when you usually have an active social life. It is a good time to turn to God and let him help us through such a difficult time.

  7. Ayanna on March 31, 2020 at 6:35 am

    What a powerful testimony and encouragement.

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:21 pm

      Ayanna, thanks for your comment. It is all God.

  8. jenna on March 30, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Praying is so powerful!! I also second working out. Getting some form of exercise, even if it’s quick has helped me SO much

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Jenna, I love to get outside and exercise. It immediately snaps me into a better mood. Thanks for your comment.

  9. April on March 30, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    This is such a powerful testimony in so many areas to encourage others in their faith! Your Daughter is beautiful and her puppy is adorable! My husband and I have both been dealing with multiple health issues which has had us in a somewhat isolated life for over a year. God has been stretching me in my faith and I’m so thankful that He has! He is so good and He is so faithful!

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:23 pm

      April, I am so sorry you have been living in a semi-isolated state. That is so hard to deal with isolation when it has been a long time alone. I hope you find health and healing soon. Take care.

  10. Carri on March 30, 2020 at 1:32 pm

    Fasting has been amazing during this time! Need to focus more on exercise. Great tips!

    • Julie Plagens on April 3, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      Carri, I think fasting is such a good way to connect with God in our body, mind, and spirit. He alone can help us break through those difficult days. Thanks for your comment.

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