We all have fears, real and imagined. They help to keep us alive and safe. Fear is the most ancient and fundamental part of our survival instincts, and it does what it is supposed to do – keeps us from stepping into danger. But when we have too many fears, it can keep us from doing new things, going new places, or even leaving the home. Fear of the outside is agoraphobia and it can leave folks isolated. This post is about how to deal with agoraphobia and isolation that generally comes with it. If you read on for 10 minutes you’ll learn how to enjoy the world, without leaving home to do it.
Agoraphobia and isolation go together
Fear is a powerful motivator, and sometimes it drives a great dependence on isolation and the protection of a “safe zone” like the home. While humans are herd animals who normally crave interaction with others, fear is often a stronger force than that urge to associate. In the modern, media saturated world we get a constant flow of information about dangers and disasters that await us outside. Terrorist attacks, fires, floods, crime; the list is nearly endless, due to warnings and claims from news media, politicians and others that sieze on fear for the powerful communication tool that it is.
If an agoraphobia sufferer finds herself (or himself) isolated in an apartment or house for days or weeks at a time, they will be very dependent on others. Our bodies need food, and sometimes they need medicine or medical care. Most of us have many other needs that we fulfill routinely by going to a store, pharmacy or doctors office, but most people are not terrified to leave the home. Those with agoraphobia may be unable to undertake these small trips that the other 94%+ of society take for granted. This article tackles the challenges they face, not the psychiatric treatment for this disorder. This is about how to cope with isolation challenges from agoraphobia, so that the millions who have the disorder can live an easier, more productive life. You can live well in isolation, if you follow this guide.
A friend in NEED
When dealing with the challenges of life in isolation, a friend, room mate, partner or family member can help a LOT. While it can be tough to meet and make friends without leaving your place, there are ways to make it happen. It is certainly much easier today than it was a few decades ago when this disorder led to solitude and total
social exclusion. Because of social media, dating sites, Craigslist and dozens of other channels, it is easier than ever to reach out and build relationships from inside your study or bedroom.
The most valuable tool that a person isolated with agoraphobia can have is skill at making friends and retaining them. This starts with learning to reach out to family, old school mates or others you know. It must also include ways to make that relationship valuable to the other person. It is most powerful when you can find new friends and reach out to strangers that share an interest or mutual problem.
There are many places online to get help in the friend-making and friend-keeping process, starting with this simple 3 step process at Wikihow. Beyond that, there are old reliable guides expanded so they apply to modern situations as they did generations ago. The classic example is *How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age an updated edition of the best seller by Dale Carnegie. Of course there are many other books and blogs to guide you in building and nurturing friendships, but ultimately your success will depend on your determination, and your willingness to “give back” or invest in the relationship.
While close relationships with people who can help outside your safe space are powerful, they are not the only tool in the box. In the age of amazon, ebay and uber, there are many things you can do if you have money or something valuable to barter with. It’s worth a lot of effort to gain and hang on to a relationship or two, but failing that, there are other ways.
*NOTE- Some items mentioned in this post are provided by sponsors who support this website – see our sponsorship page for details.
Adding value from your safe space
Hopefully you already have a great work-from-home career, a vast inheritance or the kind of looks and personality that make it super-easy to attract and hold onto the partner or friends to complete your life. However, if you need more money, relationships or other assets, there is no shortage of ways for you to get there. In-fact, there are people and businesses that really need what you have to offer. In today’s economy you can make money from home or learn new skills from home to prepare you for achieving your goals, even if they seem unattainable. As companies slim down, laying off employees and depending more on suppliers and independent contractors, doors are opening to many careers that were strictly office or shop work for centuries in the past.
The gig economy has work for writers, designers, artists, customer service reps, recruiters, event planners, engineers and dozens of other roles. A substantial portion of these ‘gigs’ can be done remotely with no travel or in-person interaction beyond online, phone or videochat contact. In some cases formal degrees and certifications are essential, while in others it is all about the ability to get the job done. It’s usually hard work, but it is real, and growing. There are many places to learn about it, such as freelancing websites, guides and even this book that can be shipped or downloaded from amazon- The Gig Economy: The Complete Guide to Getting Better Work, Taking More Time Off, and Financing the Life You Want.
There are even those who start, run and grow their own businesses from home, sometimes building substantial fortunes without leaving the house. If you have confidence in your own abilities, a willingness to learn and a genuine interest in helping others, starting a business from home is easier now than ever before. Because of the growth and reach of the web, you can service customers in your neighborhood, across the country or on the other side of the planet. There are a few excellent guides to help with starting your own business; here is an inexpensive one that rates well: Startup Essentials-The Simple, Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Start Your Own Business.
Harness your passion
If you are to live a full, self satisfying life, your best friend is your passion. What is it that you know or do that you are passionate about? If that is something you know you can do very well, you may be able to build a career or a business on that passion. This can be virtually anything you dream about, whether you are the world’s best at it, or a complete novice with utter determination to learn. After finding your passion, the question is how to leverage that passion to the greatest effect.
Think about your passion and your resources, personal and otherwise. Do you have readily marketable skills directly related to the passion? Can you produce products or services related to your passion, for which people will pay? Will it take long to develop your skill or build the reputation or market to deliver your passion for paying customers?
If there is not an option to be paid well for direct contributions to this passion, how could you help those who do it now, are customers of it, or wish to do it in the future? Could you sell, evaluate, write about or teach it? Could you assist with finance, event planning, procurement or become part of the team in some other way? If any of this seems exciting, then it is a great opportunity for you to pursue it in the gig economy or as a business. When you have passion for your work, it is a joy to do, and difficult to stop.
Here are three ways to turn passion into income
There are many ways to monetize that passion based business, but here are a few solid examples:
- Coach, mentor or teach it to local folks who come to you, or distant customers via email, chat, phone or video conference.You may use an agency, craigslist, ebay or other online groups to market your services, or get creative and do it in partnership with an organization or some other approach.
- Sell your wares, services or your words using free or inexpensive resources like WordPress. There is even a system and community that will train and support you in developing your website and business – that is how this website and blog came to be. The system is called Wealthy Affiliate University, and you can use it to build your own website for free, if you click here.
- Build an isolation shop to support professional business work in your house. This could be a sound booth for voice over narration, sound effects or musical performance and recording, a photo or video studio or a clean, sterile, nitrogen or hazard safe workstation for pharmaceutical, biopsy, R & D, clinical lab or high end craft work. It is entirely possible to add a professional isolated mini-shop for less than the cost of an older used car, and provide high-end services beyond those of most competitors.
Basic tool kit for productive isolated living
If you have the motivation, money, relationships and other assets, agoraphobia and isolation need not hold you back from the life you deserve if you harness systems to meet your needs. So long as you have an income stream to pay for it, or a support system of friends or family, this is relatively easy in most urban and suburban areas in the developed world, and a growing part of the urbanized developing world. Here is our prescription for that standard tool kit:
- Exterior maintenance landscaping, etc. are taken care of in most apartment buildings and condo complexes, but for private homes, house boats or other private structures, contracts with landscaping, general paint/carpentry or similar service providers are important – a neighborhood association referral or Angies list are good resources for this.
- Groceries, building materials and local shopping are best handled by friends, or a contract delivery service or ride-share or taxi-based delivery unless the local grocery or building supply offers delivery to your location; fortunately, more and more of these retailers are offering online shopping and delivery near urban areas.
- Staying healthy is a more complex topic, but there are practical ways to take on this challenge; we have an article on Self Care in Isolation, here.
- Staying connected is critical for your mental health, and it takes more work when you are physically isolated; the investment of time and effort will produce a great return in personal satisfaction, health and business success. Some social media can be helpful with this, but use it carefully, taking pains to avoid toxic relationships and bickering, which can easily sour the experience. The working associations and your personal romantic relationships may be easier to cultivate, whether or not they begin in a social media channel. In any case, find a community and a medium you can use to be part of a social group if at all possible, and see if you can grow your social investment in it.
You deserve happiness, So make it happen
Working, playing, eating and living at home are pretty common, now and they should not be a huge challenge. Clearly, it is easier in an apartment in Chicago or Amsterdam than it is in a mountain cabin in Peru, but there are options to do it in most populated areas. Ultimately, your isolation management it is your choice. If the limitations of home isolation are too difficult, there is treatment and it is effective for many. Seeking treatment for agoraphobia is also your choice, and it offers another option beyond those discussed here.
I hope the suggestions we’ve offered are helpful, and of use in building a better isolated life. Whether you enjoyed this post or not, we’d like to hear from you. If you have comments or questions, please share them below. If you have a personal story about life or work in isolation, we really want to hear it. Please share your thoughts with us below, as we would love to have you join the discussion.