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Amira McLaughlin

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When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or stress, it can be tempting to believe that you need to step away from the world and take some alone time. Logically, that makes sense. When it feels like the world is closing in on you, the thought of retreating somewhere alone to recharge is appealing.

Sometimes, this can even be a good idea, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of allowing yourself to become socially isolated. Unfortunately, that tends to happen when your “alone time” becomes an escape. Keep reading below to learn about the ways social isolation can worsen anxiety. It may seem odd, but you will indeed be likely to smile more if you get social.

The desire to be alone and anxious feelings are very closely intertwined. They exist in a cycle that can be pretty tough to break. You may not know which came first, and it doesn’t even matter. Isolation can create feelings of anxiety, leading you to want to be alone more frequently. Or your anxious emotions may lead you to retreat.

Humans are incredibly social creatures by nature. Even those of us who are introverts crave interaction with others sometimes. If you’re feeling all alone or not connected to a support network, you might notice more physical health issues and increased levels of anxiety and sadness.

Connecting and socializing with others can immediately lift your mood. It goes back to those brain chemicals and hormones—the kind feel-good increase when you’re around people in a positive setting. The concept of focusing outside yourself also comes into play here. Socializing and hanging out with your friends or loved ones gives you a distraction. You can place your energies on connecting with these essential people, listening to their stories, and receiving their attention or love.

Give it a try next time you’re feeling too wiped out to be around people. Nudge yourself to go to that party, anyway. You’ll probably be having a great time and smiling soon after you walk through the door.

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