If you've nested correctly, your home should feel like a sanctuary — a cozy, clean space you can't wait to arrive to after a long day, and the place where you feel most like yourself. But as valuable as at-home alone time is in our busy lives, it's easy to cross the line and step into Hermit Territory. It all starts when you're so comfortable on that plush couch of yours that you start to wonder what the point of going out is at all (especially after ordering that frozen yogurt maker). Before you know it, it's been seven weekends in a row, and the only living person you've seen outside of work is the pizza delivery guy.
Sixty million Americans struggle with loneliness on a regular basis, and it's a feeling that has some serious physical consequences. Being alone for too long could potentially affect the levels of dopamine in your brain, which can encourage you to make more impulsive decisions and increase your stress levels. Some studies have even shown that being chronically lonely can increase your risk for an early death by 45 percent. Research done at Harvard Medical School also suggests that people who are lonely experience a 20 percent faster rate of cognitive decline than those who are happily surrounded by friends and family.
Of course, if the reason you're always home is that you're suffering from chronic depression or an anxiety disorder, it's going to take getting some help to get you out of a rut. But for others, it might just be a matter of acknowledging that they're spending too much time at home to begin with. Here are 11 signs you're spending way too much time at home.
1. Your House Slippers Get More Use Than Your Actual Shoes
If your closet hasn't seen the light of day, you might want to consider taking yourself out. Those gorgeous boots you got on super-sale deserve a chance to strut about town, and that's a good enough reason to let your inner social butterfly shine (don't worry, she's still in there somewhere).
2. You're Pretty Much Always Wearing Sweatpants
Sweatpants can be dressy. Sweatpants can be cool. But let's get real. If you're rocking them every single second you're not at work, you've reached hermit status and it's probably time for you to do a big load of laundry.
3. You Haven't Eaten Out In Ages
A home that's scattered with takeout containers is a home to a person who needs to get out more. Unfortunately, technology is so advanced now that all it takes is the click of a button on your phone to have a hot meal delivered to you in minutes. Resist the urge to take the easy way out, though. Call up your friends and have a meal at a nice restaurant for once.
4. You Feel Like There Isn't Anything Exciting Left For You To Watch
Everyone deserves to have a TV show (or two) they're currently obsessed with. But in order to maintain a certain level of excitement around your program of choice, you have to give yourself some time between episode binges. If you find yourself gorging so much on TV that you can't even think of what show to watch next, you should take a break from the screen and maybe join a book club instead.
5. You Spend More Time Talking To People Online Than In Person
As soon as social media becomes your main way to keep up with your friends' comings and goings, you've got a problem on your hands. There's nothing more lonely than being physically isolated from the people you love, so don't think browsing through your bestie's newsfeed counts as a real connection to their life.
6. Your Friends Don't Bother Inviting You Out Anymore
Your friends are smart, so when you say no over and over again to their requests to take you out, they eventually stop inviting you altogether. They can only handle being rejected so many times, after all. It's your turn to step up and take them out for a glass of wine.
7. You Don't Have Any Hobbies Or Activities That Happen Outside Of Your Home
Sure, things like knitting or online gaming can count as interests, but all of your hobbies can't be ones that happen within the four walls of your apartment. Consider picking up some new hobbies that require you to get out there and socialize, like a new dance class or volunteering at an animal shelter.
8. The Only Time You See Your Friends Is When They Come Over
Because your friends have come to terms with the fact that you're not dragging your ass out for cocktail hour, the only time you can manage some face time is if you play hostess. Although having people over can be just as much fun as going out for dinner (or even more fun, especially for introverts), make sure you don't fall into a habit of only seeing your friends in this way. It's still hermit behavior if it's the only way you're comfortable chilling.
9. You Talk To Your Pet More Than You Talk To Any Human
Nothing's wrong with being a cat lady, so that stereotype needs to die immediately. Nevertheless, you don't want to turn into the kind of person who spends so little time with human beings that your pet is the only person you communicate with in person, because that can get mighty lonely.
10. You Get All Your Household Items Delivered
Online shopping is a gift from the heavens, but it can be just as much of a blessing as a curse that you can order toothpaste, toilet paper, and shampoo in the blink of an eye and have them arrive at your door in two days. When you've replaced all your outdoor shopping trips with hours of virtual browsing, buck up, wash your hair, and leave the house to buy all the things you need. It may be less convenient, but the fresh air will do you good.
11. You Feel Nervous When You Think About Going Out For An Event
Anxiety tends to creep in when you've fallen out of the habit of being social. Your mind plays tricks on you, convincing you that you've lost all ability to be funny and relatable. This fear can also be a sign of social anxiety, so if this or any of the other signs on this list sound familiar in a way that's less-than-funny, you might want to consider addressing it with a professional. There's no shame in reaching out for some help — even if you do have to leave the house for it.
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