Too stressed to be social?

May 22, 2019


We all know that when you get stressed out and your ‘to do list’ is a mile long, often the last thing you might want to do is be around other people.  The funny thing is this may actually be the most important time for us to make time to be around our friends and loved ones.

Feeling connected to other people is important to help us manage difficult times as well as to act as a buffer against stress.  Studies have shown that the chemicals in our brains involved in being emotionally connected to other people (like oxytocin) in fact have an affect against the chemicals involved when we get are stressed out (such as cortisol). But, just as important is the presence of people around us who are supportive when we are feeling stressed.

The weird thing is that the more stressed we feel, the more likely we are to withdraw emotionally and be closed off.  To shut down and shut others out.  But then we won’t get the same bounce back effect from whatever is stressing us out.  

So, what does this mean? Two things. One, time spent on emotionally meaningful and connected relationships is important.  Both to improve our own resilience, but also to minimise the damage stress can cause us. Two, we need to actively make ourselves do this, even when we least want to.  To push ourselves to be social and connected, to keep that balance in our life, because we know that it is healthy for us and something we need to prioritise.

So, when you know things are getting on top of you and you are starting to feel overwhelmed, even if the last thing you feel like doing is spending time with other people, this may be the most important time to do just that.

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