Insulation Vs. Isolation

Mar 03, 2023

Welcome to MARCH! This is a significant month! March is women’s history month, it is national social workers month and March 8th holds double special meaning for me as it is both International Women’s Day and My BIRTHDAY!!!! March encompasses all of me and this month I will be sharing with you some more personal journeys. However, before I do that, I want to share a little bit about something I have been intentional about so far this year - periods of insulation.

For those who are doing a lot of emotional wellness work and/or spiritual work, insulation can be necessary

At the start of this year, I shared a message that I feel is being played out in so many ways: 2023 is the year of BEING. It is your opportunity to understand the journey you have been on, to integrate all of the knowing and to step forward into your fullness. This stage has been so eye opening for me, the more I step forward into the fullness of me, the more I feel called to be still/silent and when I do move, move slower. Initially, these moments felt foreign and at first very shameful. By nature I am a mover. I like to get things done, with precision, ease and swiftness. But I recognize that this phase of life and growth requires me to be more aware, more mindful and diligent than before. This means that I am less externally “productive” - I do not push out classes, content or even see as many clients as I used to. I have labeled these phases my insulation periods and I am learning to fully embrace them.

Insulation and isolation sound similar, yet they have very different meanings and implications. Insulation refers to the process of blocking out unwanted or harmful stimuli from the external environment. It can involve physical barriers, such as soundproofing a room to reduce noise pollution, or psychological boundaries, such as setting limits on social interactions to avoid overwhelming social situations. Insulation is intentional and purposeful time taken, without additional distractions. This time is typically used to support your nervous system in recovery or preparation. It is a restorative practice that allows you the time and space to achieve a desired outcome.

Insulation can be an effective coping mechanism if you are sensitive to external stimuli or easily overwhelmed. It is also effective for times when you need to learn new things, review recent experiences or prepare mentally, physically or emotionally for something that you know is pending. For those who are doing a lot of emotional wellness work and/or spiritual work, insulation can be necessary so that you have the opportunity to integrate all that you are learning into your state of being. By reducing exposure to external stimuli, you can create a more controlled and manageable environment which can allow you to internalize and understand new things in more concrete and holistic ways.

It is important that you differentiate insulation from isolation. Too much insulation can lead to feelings of disconnection and alienation. Over-insulating can result in a lack of exposure to new experiences, the inability to fully practice new ideas and limited areas of risk which can lead to boredom and dissatisfaction with life. It can also create situations where those who care about you feel abandoned and you do not complete your responsibilities because you are hyper focused on a few things. This can ultimately have negative effects on mental health, leading to feelings of isolation and depression.

While insulation is voluntary, isolation can be a voluntary or involuntary state. It can have various causes, such as social anxiety, physical distance from those you care about or feeling out of place in your current surroundings. Sometimes periods of depression or sadness can cause you to isolate yourself because you do not feel that others will understand you.

It is important to understand that insulation and isolation are not necessarily opposite concepts. Insulation can be a useful tool to manage external stimuli and protect mental health, but it should not be used as a substitute for social connections and interactions with others. Finding a balance between insulation and social interaction is essential for maintaining mental health. This can involve setting boundaries on external stimuli to protect mental health while actively seeking out social interactions and relationships. Additionally,  periods of insulation do not have to be done in large chunks of time. In fact you all need some time alone each day to be with your own thoughts and to decompress. Meditation can be seen as a sort of meta insulation period, especially when done in solitude.

...the difference between insulation and isolation have to  do with your intentions

In essence the difference between insulation and isolation have to do with your intentions. As you are developing ways to care for yourself, make sure that you are intentional about understanding your patterns. Paying attention to what you want to do, understanding the intentions behind your desires, communicating with those you care about and establishing the appropriate boundaries to support your intentions will help you develop effective periods of insulation. 

As for me, you will likely see me shifting a lot this year. As much as I desire to be “in these streets” and you will see me outside, just know that there are periods of quiet and recovery as well. But, I’m never too far away. So, as always if you need me, just holla. 


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