07/23/2012 05:02 EDT | Updated 09/22/2012 05:12 EDT

Is The Internet Bad For Your Health?

Are you noticing that society is becoming more and more virtual? You may be missing out on the real-life interactions that make you mentally and physically healthy. A recent Newsweek article revealed some of the negative impacts that Internet addictions are having on lives. Is there a way to fight this?


Are you noticing that society is becoming more and more virtual? You may be missing out on the real-life interactions that make you mentally and physically healthy. A recent Newsweekarticle revealed some of the negative impacts that Internet addictions are having on lives.

On the bright side, new online platforms, such as Uniiverse, have surfaced with the aim to re-connect you to the real-world and encourage face-to-face interactions; thereby helping counter the virtual cycle you and others around you may be stuck in, and improving your overall well being. Here is the science behind it.

Inside Your Brain

Smile. Laugh. You are simply interacting with other humans. But you're experiencing an overwhelming sense of joy and relaxation. Something important is at play. Behind the scenes, endorphins and dopamine are flowing through your bloodstream, relieving pain and enhancing your sensation of reward and well-being.

Today, it is clearer than ever that these simple physical manifestations of human interaction are essential to your happiness and well-being. From John Donne's "No Man is an Island" to Immanuel Kant's controversial theory of "unsocial sociability," man has always recognized his inherent sociability and the necessity of collaborative living. Contemporary breakthroughs in science elucidating the "neural correlates," or physiological mechanisms, of social interactions provide more empirical evidence than ever that collaborative living is key to human health and progress.

Connecting with people provides a sense of unity and common purpose that deepens and propels our daily short-term and visionary long-term actions. At the foundation of this lofty suggestion is a plethora of evidence highlighting the various neurochemicals released and brain circuits enhanced during social interactions.

Unlock Rich Dreams

On a psychological level, collaboration is a powerful tool towards accomplishment. A mosaic of studies have highlighted, in contexts ranging from educational institutions to urban neighbourhoods, that perceived collective efficacy significantly boosts groups' aspirations, motivational investment, morale, resilience to challenges, and final productivity. Not too shabby a yield for simple collaboration!

For example, instead of single-handedly vowing to consume less gas or opt for alternative transportation methods in order to "live greenly", join a web-based ridesharing community, such as the one offered on Uniiverse. Being a part of a local and global ridesharing community will enhance both your perceived and actual efficiency at abating that guilty carbon footprint.

Balance Minds and Bodies

On a neurochemical level, the hormone oxytocin plays a central role in the stress-protective effects of social interaction. Meta-analyses of the effects of this golden chemical have demonstrated that it immediately and drastically quenches stress and alleviates mood in response to psychosocial stressors. Not yet convinced? Oxytocin has been shown to exert as far-reaching effects as lowering blood pressure and increasing the rate of wound healing. Also in the realm of physical benefits of sociality, palpable benefits of social living range from decreased heart attacks to increased vitality and life expectancy. Believe it or not, social support is a prime factor in remission from and psychological adjustment to illness as ravaging as cancer.

Offer to pick up your neighbor's groceries every Tuesday and, beyond earning cash and feeling awesome about yourself, enjoy the long-term butterfly effects of that single oxytocin release. Join a sharing economy and boost mental and physical health.

Fulfill Hearts

Finally, beyond shadow of a doubt, social living is a key ingredient to the recipe of life and well-being. In a world plagued with a plethora of mental and emotional pathologies, alternative approaches to emotional health are more relevant and poignant than ever. While most of us mindlessly ingest drugs as a "quick and easy fix," focusing on a supportive social matrix and support offers the potential to circumvent these classical, dangerous and unsustainable solutions.

Take mood-lifting drugs. Both antidepressants and cocaine stimulate the cerebral region in charge of mediating feelings of love and depression, and the former essentially thwart all feelings of love. And as Helen Fisher said in her TED Talk, "A world without love is a deadly place."

But you can get your buzz without drugs. By stimulating the release of the neurochemicals that elicit feelings of satisfaction and well-being, collaborative living and social support provide natural alternatives to overcoming emotional challenges. Bond with like-minded peers in a sushi-making class or rock climbing clinic and reap the emotional rewards in a natural and sustainable way.

In addition to making every day more productive, fun and meaningful, these types of collaboration offer a host of mental, emotional and physical benefits. Share your services, promote your unique skills or simply reach out to like-minded people to stifle your stress, boost your health and enhance your well-being. The time is now to turn away from your screen and start experiencing real-life.