From: Quartz

The psychology of why you feel alone even when you’re surrounded by people

Despite the world’s population creeping upward by around 200,000 people a day, many of us have never felt as alone.

We are more connected than ever before, yet we somehow feel more isolated. We have the ability to reconnect with our high-school classmates and talk to our heroes on social media, yet we feel that we have less intimate connections than the generation before us. And it’s not just a nagging feeling in the back of our minds—it’s affecting our physical health, too. The news headlines speak for themselves: “Chronic loneliness is a modern-day epidemic.” “Loneliness is a public-health threat.” “Widespread loneliness is killing people and we need to start talking about it.

But our social lives aren’t the only place we experience loneliness. We are also spending more time working than we have in previous decades—especially in the US. All those extra hours spent around our colleagues should help us foster closer relationships. But when you arguably spend more time with your workmates than your own family, why can the office sometimes still feel so isolating?

BYU psychology professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad is one of the world’s leading researchers on social connection. Her research has uncovered some alarming facts about what isolation can do to both your body and mind. For example, one of her most shocking findings was that extreme social isolation holds the same health risk as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. (So much for “social smoking,” right?)

Read the whole story: Quartz

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