In today's world, the rates of loneliness and depression seem to be growing bigger and bigger with each passing day. Maybe it has something to do with our habit of constantly scrolling through social media, or our particularly turbulent political climate, but either way, it seems to be a sad reality of life in this day and age. And one of the reasons these feelings of loneliness and disconnection might be on the rise is because loneliness can be contagious. Seriously, research shows it can straight-up spread like a virus within social groups.
One such study, done by researchers at the University of Chicago, the University of California-San Diego, and Harvard University in 2009, showed that, for one thing, "lonely people tend to share their loneliness with others." What's more, the study found, when loneliness is shared or expressed, it can easily spread to, and actually affect the rest of that person's social network, making them feel just as disconnected and out-of-place.
Plus, in case you haven't heard, millennials may be the loneliest age group of all these days, according to the results of a recent survey done by the health insurance company Cigna. So even if you think you're not personally feeling that disconnected these days, chances are, you're likely surrounded by people who do feel lonely, and over time, their emotions could influence your own, if you're not careful.
According to author and holistic lifestyle coach Klay Williams, loneliness and negativity are often contagious because these emotions are expected, sought-after, and, more often than not, an expectation of what one believes they deserve. "We live in a society where our expectations are centered and programmed around the 'other shoe dropping,' pessimism, and negativity," he tells Elite Daily. "Oftentimes, we might find ourselves in winning moments and begin a dialogue with a negative friend, and somehow, by the end of that conversation, [you] begin to wonder, 'Wait, can I really have optimism for my present or future?'"
But we all want, and deserve, positive connections in life. So when you find yourself surrounded by negativity, try implementing a few of these expert tips to keep your emotional well-being intact.