At The Holistic Healthcare Group, we work with a lot of people who suffer from anxiety and depression and mood problems, and one of the significant factors in their condition is that they are spending too much time alone. Whether that’s working, isolating themselves or just forgetting to make time with other people, spending too much time alone can have a lot of negative impacts on our physical and mental health.
The Science Behind Loneliness
This isn’t just something we say so that we can see you more often. Science and research have proven time and time again that human beings need social interactions with other people. There are certain neural pathways in the brain that can only be activated by positive contact with other people, and if those neural pathways are neglected then our health suffers. When you meet up with your friends and do the things we enjoy, we produce serotonin – the happiness hormone – which makes us feel good and lifts our mood.
Not only that, but loneliness can have a huge impact on how our brains work. Spending too much time alone can actually change our brains. The right inferior temporal gyrus (or ITG if you want to save time) is best known for helping us process and recall faces. When we are spending time alone, the ITG demonstrated a much higher level of readiness for processing social information than at any other time. What does that mean? It means that our brains really want to find other faces to look at, and your ITG will light up trying to find them.
Why Being Around Other People Makes Us Healthier
Of course, loneliness isn’t just a mental thing. Not having a good social support system in our lives can actually cause a lot of chronic stress in out bodies, and this leads to a lot of health problems. Studies have shown that when people are lonelier they have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can put them at risk for conditions like heart disease, stroke, weight gain , high blood pressure and severe fatigue. People with fewer social ties are also at higher risk of heart disease, cancer and impaired immune function, which can make it more difficult to recover from simple illnesses. Being around people can also encourage positive behaviours that are better for our health, like eating healthily and exercising. In fact, research dating back to the 1970’s suggests that people who don’t spend time with others as often actually die younger from a wide range of causes.
The Power Of Positivity
If you are feeling low or struggling in your life, then you may find you are isolating yourself without meaning to. This behaviour can become habitual, which leads to you feeling too depressed or anxious to make the effort to go out – and so the cycle continues. Over time this can lead to all of those nasty physical and psychological symptoms we talked about. But it doesn’t have to.
One of the key facts you may not know about the brain is that the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined – it believes what you tell it. So, if you give it a negative message, you will feel negative. But if you give it a positive message, you will feel positive. If you really want to beat the isolation and get yourself seeing more people, you need to keep giving yourself positive messages about it. Think positively, act positively, and interact positively with other people.
If you’re struggling to do this, hypnotherapy may help you. Hypnotherapy is all about putting you into a trance, and planting positive images and ideas in your subconscious, retraining your mind. Hypnotherapy is a fantastic tool for overcoming social anxiety, helping with depression and overcoming loneliness. Even the act of having a session and interacting with another person can help! If you would lie to know more, just get in touch with us today.