In the Insta/TicTok world, there is pressure to be popular and hang out with cool friends at trendy places.  Post Covid it seems friend groups are reforming in old and new patterns and half half the people online are heading for vacation. There’s not a lot of positive stereotypes associated with loneliness; it’s largely considered detrimental to our health and happiness. But a study suggests loneliness might help strengthen our imaginations.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that lonely people show more activity in the areas of brain tied to reminiscing, future planning and thinking about others. These ties were strengthened and the gray matter was larger when compared to people who weren’t feeling lonely.

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Researchers pulled over 40,000 brain images from U.K. Biobank, a database of biological storage. The scale of the study is substantial, featuring the MRI scans of people between the ages of 40 to 69, who filled out assessments that discussed whether they felt lonely or not. The scans were then studied and analyzed, compared with the brain scans of people who said they didn’t feel lonely.

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“The researchers’ hypothesis that the default network in the brain was active during loneliness was a logical one, because those are parts involved in thinking about self,” explains CNN Health.

Loneliness has long been a concern for people, with studies finding that it’s detrimental for our health and that it even increases the odds of developing dementia in adults and perhaps worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

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Studies like this are very important in the shade of this year, one that has been very lonely by nature, teaching us the ways in which our brain works and some of the changes it might have been submitted to. While young adults and people are more prone to social media – it might be better to take breaks and enjoy a down time and relax.

The Jed Foundation, a non-profit whose focus is on mental heath shared “One of the greatest benefits of spending time alone is how it helps you develop a better since of self. The more you know and understand yourself the more likely you are to do things that you love, learn things that interest you and spend time with people who make you feel good.”

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