It seems as though in modern times, depression and loneliness have unfortunately been growing every day. Perhaps it due to the fact that we’re always on social media looking at what everyone else is doing, or our climate, but regardless – it appears to be a sad reality of today’s day in age. And of the reasons for this? Loneliness can, in fact, be contagious, it’s like a virus that’s being spread around.
A study done by researchers at three of the top Universities in the U.S found that lonely people tend to share their loneliness with others. When loneliness is shared, it can very easily spread and affect the rest of that social network, making them feel out of place as well. And if you weren’t already aware, millennials are reported to be the loneliest group of people.
So even if you personally don’t feel lonely (which is great, keep it up!) the chances are that you’re around people that sure do. And you’ve got to be careful not to catch it from them over time. Loneliness and negativity are contagious in many cases because they are highly expected. After engaging in a dialogue with a negative friend, it can be hard to leave feeling optimistic for ourselves. But what all really want of course (and deserve) is positive connections. So when surrounded by negative energy, try some of these expert tips to protect yourself.
For one, it’s super important to be aware when you take on someone else’s emotions. Those who are highly compassionate and caring tend to take on too much responsibility. Although it’s important to support your friends in need, it’s always important to not overdo it, or take someone else’s negative feelings as your own. It’s not even helpful to either one of you. Empathize with them, but don’t let them drain you.
Especially with those that are constantly negative, we need to learn where to set boundaries, even if it’s not easy. You can support your friends to your own capacity, whatever that may be. It can also be useful to aim to shift the focus of the conversation to a less negative topic. It can be done in a subtle and kind way, without offending them.
By simply trying to be positive with those around you can have a huge effect and on how they feel about themselves. Negativity is in many cases a learned behavior, so be the change you wish to see.
And most importantly, seek to spend your valuable time with positive people that bring you up. This doesn’t mean you should drop your friends who are going through a rough time, but you can certainly limit the time spent together for your own well-being.