Social Isolation can be one of the hardest parts of remote or rural practice, particularly when it involves moving to a new community and starting ‘all over again’. Learning to manage and overcome your social isolation is a skill that will make your transition into remote or rural practice a lot easier.
Everyone feels lonely from time to time. It comes in many forms and for many reasons. It is usually when you have little contact with familiar people or familiar culture and lifestyle. Moving to a new community and workplace can be lonely and quite isolating (at least initially). You may have moved away from you’re your family and friends, or feel isolated because of you culture (see the Johnson story).
Social Isolation & You
It initially takes time and energy to replace 'loneliness' with involvement, and 'isolation' with a ‘sense of community’. Moving to a new community and workplace can be a big and overwhelming thing. Big and overwhelming things don't disappear easily - you have to chip away at them bit by bit.
- Think about what is contributing to your loneliness.
- Tell someone you trust how you are feeling.
- Put your fear aside and take a risk (go to the party when you are asked).
- Be open to meeting new people. Let them know you are interested in them (but don't try too hard at first - just be friendly without asking for too much too soon).
- Connect with other people. See Community Orientation for some ideas about how to meet new people and get involved in the community.
- Seek help if you need it.
- Don’t forget to help others too. We can all help each other to feel welcome and included.
Maintaining Long Distance Relationships
Long distance relationships can be any type of relationship, including family, romantic or a friendship. For many Allied Health Professional commencing in remote and rural practice, relationship may change to a long distance relationship because you have had to move to a new community.
Long distance relationships can have both positive and negatives. On the positive side, you may now feel you have more space and independence. You can take the opportunity to explore different ways of communicating (try skype!). You also begin to value to relationship more – when you do see them it is special and exciting. On the negative side not having someone you are care close to you, especially when you need support can be tough. You may also feel a little lonely about not being part of their life anymore. Distance can also lead to jealousy and insecurity, and you worry that you may lose closeness.
Long Distance Relationships & You
Sustaining a long-distance relationship can be challenging, but there are some things that you can do:
- Maintain regular contact (emails, letters, sms, skype, and phone).
- Talk to your partner, friends and family about the relationship and how you are feeling (share with them that you miss them and they are still an important part of your life).
- Share similar interests, even if you are doing them apart (this give you something common to talk about).
- Plan time to meet up in person (this can give you something to look forward to).