Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill Therapist Sara Cole.
Too much screen time can result in isolating and missing out on social interactions which results in feelings of loneliness. Loneliness can cause or increase depression and anxiety and it can even shorten your lifespan. A blog Post by Sara Cole MFT.
We are social beings. There are lots of explanations for why we need to interact with other people. If you take an evolution and survival perspective, you see that we have needed one another to simply reproduce and survive. Connecting with others, gives a person feedback, stimulation, comfort, protection, the opportunity to care for another, new ideas, motivation. The list goes on. But beyond survival and reproduction, we thrive when we feel connected to other people. As far as I know, even the most introverted people need some connection to other people. Well actually, they need to feel connected to other people. The types of connections may vary from person to person and the amount of people or number and depth of connections will vary as well. Isolation can actually drive a person mad. Loneliness can feel overwhelming. It can cause depression, anxiety and even shorten a person's life span. But if you look at our lives, you see us becoming less social and less connected overall. Why is that?
Loneliness is quickly becoming one of the top reasons people are seeking counseling or therapy. The bad news is that with social media, everything available on line and busy work, family, school lives, the number of meaningful social interactions we experience is shrinking quickly. What seems like convenience, could actually be making people mentally and physically ill. Take for example Amazon. You don't have to leave the house or even speak to another person to do your shopping. Or think about Netflix. Instead of going to a theatre with friends, you sit at home and watch Netflix alone. All of these conveniences are shrinking our social networks. Screens are reducing the amount of social connections we make with other people.
Is a Facebook friend a real friend? Probably some yes and some no. There is value and connection on via media is better than no connection. So when that's the only option, by all means use it. But remember, it is not at all the same as a real life interaction with another person. For one thing, you can't hug your friend when you read their update on facebook, but you can reach out and give a hug or hi five in person. You don't hear the tone of their voice or pick up on their energy. For people who are far apart from one another, the internet and phones can provide a sort of connection when , there would be none otherwise.
If there is one thing you do to improve your overall mental and physical health, consider this. Get social, at least a little bit. People who have "friends" and connections with others, live longer and report less depression, anxiety and loneliness. Put down the screen, walk away from the tv, put down the game controller and make some real live connections. For one thing, getting off the couch and engaging in an activity with another human requires physical movement, mental and emotional interactions, and much more. Those things are better for your health than laying on the couch ar sitting in front of the computer by yourself. You may even want to consider making one of these connections outside where you also get the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
I am not saying that you need to have a full social calendar. I am saying look for ways to make connections with other people. It can be at work, with family, at the gym, talking to a neighbor, joining a club or group, volunteering, or pursuing an interest you have. The list goes on. This is one of those things that can feel hard at first, but it really does get easier. As you do it, you see and feel the positive benefits. Then soon you won't be trying so hard to make this happen and it will feel more natural. The more you do with other people, the more there is to do. They have ideas and invite you to join. Oh and one more thing, don't turn down invitations to be social. Especially if you don't have any plans or your feeling lonely. And certainly don't let anxiety stop you. Tell your self doubt and anxiety to shut up and let you get out there and live your best life. You may feel insecure , but I promise you, almost everyone else does too.
For more ideas on how to help yourself feel better or to find out how Sara Cole MFT might be able to help you, visit www.saracolemft.com or give her a call at (619) 316- 3171. She has been providing therapy and counseling in San Diego for over 10 years. She has offices in Scripps Ranch and Bankers Hill in San Diego CA.
Sara Cole has been providing mental health services in San Diego for 15 years. Sara specializes in working with women and teen girls to overcome trauma and major life changes, including postpartum depression and anxiety. She is also passionate about providing treatment to those whose lives are affected by the addiction of a loved one.