Is your iPad or Smartphone making you lonely? The answer may be “yes.”
Research done by psychologist Dr. Aric Sigman shows that an increasing number of us feel isolated. And at the same time, the number of us who spend ZERO time having meaningful face-to-face conversations has tripled.
Of course, a lot of us share our thoughts and feelings with friends and family online. But that can be a problem. Dr. Sigman says when we’re face to face, we process information in the emotional centers of our brains. But when we’re online, we use the rational areas. Which means, when we’re online, our brains produce less of the bonding hormone oxytocin – and less oxytocin leads to increased feelings of loneliness.
So, what’s the best way to feel less lonely? Well, getting together with friends in person is a good place to start. But you can do a lot more.
For example: Say “Hello” to the people you pass on the street. Mental health expert Dr. Andrew McCulloch says that most of us underestimate the power of the most basic social interactions. And studies show that when two strangers exchange a greeting and make eye contact, both of them are more likely to do something nice for someone else within the next few hours. That’s because eye contact diminishes selfish thoughts, and increases our sense of belonging.
Another way to beat loneliness: Unplug for at least 4 hours a day. And no, unplugging while you sleep doesn’t count. Dr. Paul Dolan is a professor of Behavioral Science. And he says that people who commit to turning off their Smartphones for a few hours every day are more satisfied with their relationships, and enjoy better overall health. That’s because they’re more engages with what they’re doing and the people physically around them.