Science Suggests We Should Unplug and Reconnect
Neuroscience has proclaimed humans are wired for relationships. For example, research indicates that cortisol levels, the stress hormone in humans, increases when someone feels lonely. Science indicates the elevation of cortisol from loneliness is similar to someone who was physically assaulted. On the other hand, the body releases oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone”, when someone feels connected to others. For example, oxytocin is secreted through the mammalian glands of a mother when she breast-feeds her child; it is released when a father wrestles with his child or when friends warmly greet each other. These examples illustrate how oxytocin is involved in several positive human experiences, such as empathy, trust, and relationship building. In addition, research is consistently supporting the benefits oxytocin has on depression, anxiety, and intestinal problems.
Unfortunately, social research indicates people are feeling less connected than ever before. Data suggests people are feeling more isolated, experiencing more stress in their life, and mental illness (i.e., depression, anxiety, etc.) is skyrocketing. Oddly, we are more technically connected than previous generations. Families eat dinner while watching television, friends talk to others on their smartphones when walking to their classes, kids play on the Internet with friends who are on the other side of the county, and parents make a post about their “utopic” family life on social media.
This blog is not intended to suggest that modern advances in technology are ruining the mental health of America. It is the over-reliance on technology that distracts people from having close connections with family and friends. Here are three tips on simple ways you can unplug and reconnect with those around you. This fall make it a point to: turn off the television when eating dinner with your family; turn your smartphone on silent when walking with a friend; play cards with friends; or instead of retreating to your bedroom to watch YouTube on your iPad meet a friend for coffee. Use technology to physically connect with friends and family – Your connections may be more enjoyable with a little Oxytocin.