Human Moments are Healthy

Published on March 17, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Fifteen years ago when Flip phones were cool, Ed Hallowell, MD was beginning to look at email and voice mail with a skeptical eye. Certain patients (Ed is a psychiatrist) were reporting feelings of alienation, anxiety and isolation because of the growing presence of electronic communication in their lives. One manager was not invited to an important meeting, another was extremely concerned that his job was in jeopardy because the tone of his new boss’ email messages were almost always negative and cryptic.  Many more incidents described by patients led Hallowell to dub an antidote to this syndrome. He called it the Human Moment. He defines it as “An Authentic psychological encounter that can happen only when two people share the same physical space.”

The absence of Human Moments on a person-to-person and organizational scale can wreak havoc.  In the workplace, co-workers lose their sense of cohesiveness. It can have a negative ripple effect on others and promote misunderstandings, distrust and dissatisfaction. To counteract the negative effects, Hallowell recommends making an effort to personally interact with others on a routine basis.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon examined how people were affected by spending time online. They found higher levels of depression and loneliness in people who spend even a few hours per week connected to the Internet. In contrast, positive person-to-person contact reduces stress hormones such as cortisol. Nature provides us with hormones that promote trust and bonding: oxytocin and vasopressin.  Nursing mothers benefit from these bonding hormones but we all benefit from them when we meet with others for connect, support and understanding.

Perhaps this is why it feels good and remarkably  healing when we connect with others. So share a coffee,  attend support meetings, or simply walk down the street or hallway and have a good old-fashioned  face-to-face meeting with a real person.

Being slightly introverted, I tend to live in my little cyber bubble all too often. This year, I started working with other professionals who care deeply about how Baby Boomers will spent the last third of their lives. It’s a lot of work, and we all volunteer but the camaraderie is priceless! It gets me away from my computer and out into the community.

Below is a photo of me, and two of my colleagues roasting marshmallows at a Positive Aging Conference.

Me, and two of my colleagues roasting marshmallows at a Positive Aging Conference.

This post was written by Lisa Jacobson

Categorized in: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *