WVXU: Loneliness can have long term effects. A UC researcher has some advice to combat it

Being social during the holidays is one recommendation

The holidays can be a joyous and festive time, but for some, they trigger stress and loneliness, especially for those who have experienced loss in the last year. In a story produced by WVXU on the topic, James Herman, PhD, the chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology at the UC College of Medicine.

Herman told the radio station loneliness is a state of the brain that can have an emotional effect down the road and added that being around other people helps the brain combat stress.

"Actually, the whole notion of the social environment can reduce the biological effects of stress on the body," he says. "You actually have the ability to better fight off the stressful times that are associated with the holidays."

Faculty Award winner James Herman, College of Medicine

James Herman, PhD, of the Department of Pharmacology and Systems Physiology at the UC College of Medicine/Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Marketing + Brand

Herman says it's more than just staying too busy to be lonely. He says look for quality time, not quantity time.

It may sound simple, but he says to keep mentally healthy, make time for yourself.

"If you exercise, don't take time off from your exercise regimen, if that's what you enjoy. If you enjoy reading, if you enjoy watching television, you should make sure you're able to keep up with the things that make you feel good. Because that really is going be what's going to help stave off the potential negative effects of the stressfulness of the time."

He says getting together with friends for a drink may be a good way to combat loneliness, but there's a caveat with alcohol or other substances.

"They do exactly the same thing. A lot of the things we've been talking about do. They actually go into the brain and they take over the circuits that are responsible for making us happy or reducing our stress or whatever," he says. "But of course, a lot of the substances are abuse-able and addictive."

Read the entire story here.

Lead photo/Yaraslau Saulevich/IStockphoto

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