Loneliness and Social Isolation Grows Despite a Workforce That is More Connected Than Ever
An increasing number of our enterprise customers report that loneliness and isolation are becoming as much of a growing health issue for their employees as other well known problems such as obesity, smoking and addiction. Loneliness can be particularly pronounced in older populations, for employees that work remotely, or in rural, isolated areas. Despite a workforce that is more connected than ever through social media, smartphones and technology, this trend is both alarming and seemingly paradoxical.
Those experiencing social isolation and loneliness may also be contending with other emotional wellbeing challenges, including anxiety, depressed mood, and self-regulation (which lead to negative thought patterns and self-judgements).
The following exercises represent some of MyBrainSolutions’ highlights. They help individuals manage difficult patterns of thought and behavior, and nudge thinking in a more positive direction. Several of these exercises are designed to prepare people to thrive in social settings.
After completing these activities, we urge people to step away from their computers and put what they’ve learned into practice, in a real world, face-to-face social interaction; the best way to truly beat social isolation and loneliness. We also encourage employers to foster opportunities for socializing among their employees.
- Social anxiety can seem difficult to escape, but it’s not impossible!
Studies show that computerized training can help people begin to feel more comfortable interacting with others. For individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, for example, 6 weeks of cognitive behavioral training has revealed definitively positive benefits for participants. Click here to see the study.
The brain training exercise Thought Challenger, Faces and Names and Emotion Booster help people develop the social skills that they need in order to experience less anxiety when interacting with others.
2. Positive people are more likely to make new friends!
People who feel more positively about themselves, that have confidence and recognize their worth, can initiate and engage in deeper social interactions, which minimizes feelings of isolation. Studies have shown that computerized positivity training can impact mood for the better. The brain training exercises Bubbletopia and Thought Tamer help to increase focus on positivity, rewiring your brain circuitry to look for the positive in real world situations.
3. The benefits of increasing self-regulation!
We can learn new responses to emotional stimuli because the wiring for emotional responses is malleable. A 2016 study published in NeuroImage demonstrates how learning to ignore irrelevant information can result in decreased emotional reactivity.
One facet of depressive emotions is the intrusion of negative memories. A 2009 study, published in the journal of Behavior Research and Therapy shows that participating in computerized cognitive behavioral training can reduce the frequency of such occurrences. By regulating your thought patterns, you can improve your emotional wellbeing and ready your mind for new activities and interactions.
The games Happy Seeker, Think Focus and Thought Challenger are designed to help users focus on the present moment, while ignoring nagging negative thoughts or intrusions. Decreased reactivity, and focus on the present leads to feelings of stronger connection with others.
We hope that your employees use our training to develop the positive outlook, social skills and resilience that they need in order to go out there, increase social interactions and combat loneliness!
By: Shira Landau, Natalie Cann and the MyBrainSolutions’ Science Team
Disclaimer: The opinions above are of the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Brain Resource. The post, while scientifically validated by our Chief Science Officer, is for information only and is not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship or advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one’s own healthcare professionals.
American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “Brain can be trained to regulate negative emotions, study shows.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105101713.htm
Bowler, J. O., Mackintosh, B., Dunn, B. D., Mathews, A., Dalgleish, T., & Hoppitt, L. (2012). A comparison of cognitive bias modification for interpretation and computerized cognitive behavior therapy: Effects on anxiety, depression, attentional control, and interpretive bias. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 80(6), 1021–1033.
Calkins, A., McMorran, K., Siegle, G., and Otto, M. (2015). The Effects of Computerized Cognitive Control Training on Community Adults with Depressed Mood. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 43(5), 578–589.
Craske, Michelle G. et al. “Computer-Assisted Delivery of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care Settings.” Depression and anxiety 26.3 (2009): 235–242. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.
Lang, Tamara J. et al. (2008). Reducing depressive intrusions via a computerized cognitive bias modification of appraisals task: Developing a cognitive vaccine. Behaviour Research and Therapy. 47 (2); 139–135.
Nader, Amir and Taylor, Charles. (2012). Combining computerized home-based treatments for generalized anxiety disorder: an attention modification program and cognitive behavioral therapy. Behavior Therapy. 43(3), 465–686.
Spence, S. H., Holmes, J. M., March, S., & Lipp, O. V. (2006). The feasibility and outcome of clinic plus Internet delivery of cognitive-behavior therapy for childhood anxiety. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(3), 614–621.