One of the things we said was a total life hack to combat depression was trying away from a screen. Today, we’d like to delve deeper into this realm and talk about something that screen use is only one cause of. Our high impact, stressful lives, coupled with the magical touch of technology make us desire ‘me-time’ quite frequently. Swaddling yourself in the sheets and eating endless portions of breakfast in bed seems ideal to any workaholic. However, is the frequent desire for lack of human contact healthy? Research that has been conducted in the field of social psychology says otherwise.
With dating apps like Tinder on the rise, one tends to find company by either texting strangers or familiar faces at regular intervals. Is this the same as going out to get come coffee or watching a movie with a familiar face? Well, it surely isn’t in our opinion. With the rise in the levels of something as simple as loneliness, it is clear that the anxiety we have about it itself is extremely high. The phenomenon is being labeled as the latest global health epidemic by several. We want to ask whether this is the right way to perceive this major issue. But before getting into a healthy debate, let’s look at some research in this realm.
Studies by Dr. Vivek Murthy of the United States show that loneliness is related to higher risks of infirmity as well as cancer and heart problems. In other words, loneliness can be as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day! Lucy Jaremka, a postdoctoral researcher at the Ohio State University reported that loneliness can trigger higher levels of inflammation in individuals who are facing stress.
It was also seen that some individuals contained higher concentration of antibodies for diseases like herpes, indicating a higher presence of active viruses within the human system. It’s astounding to see how our behaviors and evaluations about the outside world can affect our health. A study conducted on the elderly by Perissinotto also showed similar results. It was seen that those seniors who felt left out or neglected showed a decline in capability to perform daily activities and an increased chance of fatality over a six year period.
All this being said, it’s pretty clear that scientific findings show the ways in which pour mind and bodies are connected. However, does this mean that we need to treat loneliness like a full scale epidemic that has broken out globally? In fact, countries like Britain have appointed a loneliness minister to deal with the issue! Is labeling loneliness as an epidemic going to help us get rid of it? Well, we think that our loneliness arises from an anxiety about it. We’re so anxious about being lonely itself that we often withdraw into a bubble to deal with those emotions. Bunching up inside your own bubble is only going to add to the loneliness one experiences. Maybe talking to someone about this anxiety could help one come to terms with the fact that dealing with loneliness starts from an intrinsic desire to know people and be personable. As we said before, talk to the person in the room. Keep your head out of the screen! And most important of all, just be personable around the people in your day to day life. This should help you cultivate this desire for social bonds.
If you’re feeling like you don’t want to get out or put yourself out there, it’s probably due to something you’re thinking. Gaining victory over ones desire for isolation starts with opening up to those who care, or someone objective like a therapist. Letting your emotions out there is the way to filter out any non-functional ones.
An undergraduate in Psychology, Shantanu is an aspiring Educational Psychologist who will be pursuing his Master’s in 2018 at the Ohio State University. He is adept with psychometric and statistical research, and has honed his grasp over psychology through a 4 year undergraduate course in Liberal Education at FLAME University, Pune.