• Dr. Julie Granger DPT

Isolation does not equal loneliness.

Isolation does not have to equal loneliness.

On this day almost a year ago, I stood on top of the Rock of Gibraltar, embarking on an adventure of curveballs I could not have dreamed of coming.

On this day, I cried and ignored my intuition screaming “NO! Don’t go at it alone!” as I dropped Daniel at the start of a 1100 mile bike ride across Spain. I felt anxious about driving across this country by myself.

Yet I also felt intrigued and inspired by the adventure.

In Gibraltar, things seemed easy and beautiful. I was pumped to see the rare Gib macaques and peer out toward Africa across the Strait.

After that—there were some beautiful moments on the trip no doubt, but they were clouded by many snafus and unfortunate circumstances I didn’t see coming...like...

👁‍🗨Having my credit card stolen (in a toll booth, of all places)—and losing my main form of electronic payment.

👁‍🗨Had what sounded like an attempted break in to my airbnb at midnight (turned out to be a neighbor who’d had too much to drink and got his front doors confused...)

👁‍🗨Got lost more times than I could count because phone service in Spain was terrible (and therefore, so were GPS maps) #21stcenturyprobs 😬

👁‍🗨Experiencing a strange ambivalence of locals to help me, even when I kindly asked for help in very good Spanish.

👁‍🗨Navigating Euro driving (tiny roads, impossible parking) without the skill to do so. 👁‍🗨Having my iPhone stolen out of my pocket—while my hand was in it—and therefore losing the tiny lifeline I had to keep me from getting lost.

With all of this, I couldn’t have felt more helpless and lonely.

What did I learn?

Even when we are physically isolated, even when there is so much around us that seems “good” — We are not meant to go at it alone.

When the sh*t happens (and especially when a lot of it hits all at once)—it’s ok to surrender.

I did all I could to help myself feel better, stay positive and focused, and keep “enjoying” my vacation, but the joy was slipping away.

I’d done the things I knew to do.

I'd felt the feels, practiced gratitude for the beautiful country I was in, prayed at La Sagrada Familia, and lived in the moment.

But still...I felt overwhelmed with loneliness.

So I surrendered—and called a bestie back home (and ran up a huge phone bill) and asked Daniel to stop his race (and his dream).

And he did—without question.

If you feel overwhelmed these days or anytime in your life—it’s ok. You’re not supposed to do this alone.

As humans, we are wired for connection.

When our stress hormones release, we have an instinct that kicks in, stimulating us to reach out to ask for help.

When we do that, we are "rewarded" with oxytocin--the "cuddle" hormone.

And this decreases the negative effect of the stress hormones on our hearts, minds, and bodies.

But oftentimes, we stymie that instinct--either we are too busy and preoccupied with work or tasks or housework, that we ignore that innate intuition.

Or we scroll and turn to our screens, and don't get the same connection.

So, if you're feeling stressed or worried because you're not sure what's going to happen with your job...or your partner's job...or your children's school...or the economy...or your health...or everyone else's health...

Pause. Listen to what your heart is saying.

And reach out one person privately.

Yes, this may feel brave.

Yes, this may feel vulnerable.

Yes, your skin might crawl or your heart might race.

Just pick up the phone. Send the text. Send the DM.

Instead of giving help or support--ask for it.

You don't have to feel broken to ask for support.

You don't have to tell them your life story.

Just reach out and say you'd love to chat.

And bonus points--tell them you feel lonely.

Chances are, they feel the same way, and could really benefit from hearing from you.

We are not meant to go at it alone. We literally aren't wired that way.

Nobody is.

Nobody has all the answers.

It’s ok if you feel lost or stuck or hopeless or like you’ve failed.

And if you need to chat—I’d be happy to “stop my race” and listen—without question.

Just reach out.

Love you all—you can do this. One day at a time. 💕

In love and health,

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