There are a lot of things that can and will affect our health but do we know how loneliness impacts our health? Now and then we might feel that we need some time off, some time that we can use to “recharge our batteries”. This is something that we all truly need and time alone can be very therapeutic. But what if that “time for ourselves” becomes prolonged and constant? What happens when this alone time is no longer a day or two of being alone with our thoughts… what about when it stretches to weeks and months of psychological isolation?
How alone are we?
We also don’t have to be alone to be lonely. Getting away from the people is one thing, but lacking the ability to share our thoughts and emotions with others means leaving a fundamental need unfulfilled that we as humans have. We are social beings, and as such, we are able to develop societies. We need to share.
Loneliness today has become more pronounced than ever before. But according to www.webmd.com, the paradox is that with all the technology we have at our fingertips, we are more “connected” than ever before.
Douglas Nemecek, MD from Cigna has stated that “Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity”. Nowadays loneliness has reached epidemic proportions.
One major impact of loneliness that may bring a whole other set of problems is the effect it has on our ability to work and be productive. When Forbes talks about how loneliness impacts our health, they talk about how loneliness impairs performance, creativity, and decision making.
How loneliness impacts our health
How does loneliness directly affect our health? Loneliness can literally break our hearts. Loneliness can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
One meta-study showed that isolation can be associated with a higher risk of early mortality. It can raise the risk for early mortality by 26%.
But if we look closely at our bodies we will notice one big influence of loneliness on our biology – it puts us in state of chronic inflammation. Inflammation is essential when we are injured or sick, as this is how the body defends itself. But if we put this function into overdrive, inflammation can damage our bodies.
This response is very similar to the effects of chronic stress. The system that we have to protect us against infection begins to fail and makes us more prone to diseases. The release of the stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol leads to genetic changes that suppress our immunity and the ability to fight off infection according to www.vox.com.
How to avoid loneliness?
Stress and loneliness are very much like physical pain…and pain can be useful. Physical pain is one of the best friends we have because it tells us that something is wrong. Pain can be a sign of change. Pain tells us to stop what we are doing or we will become hurt, injured, or worse.
Stress and loneliness are road signs for our social behavior. The problem is not with stress or loneliness directly but in our response to them. Instead of heading these warning signs in order to make a change, many people try to learn how to embrace and accept these feelings, and then we reach new levels of stress and loneliness. These feelings can spiral until we are mentally paralyzed and physically sick.
The most obvious way to fight off loneliness is to become more socially active. We need the “human touch”. Spending time with friends, family, children and grandchildren can bring us a feeling of belonging. Taking care of children and grandchildren is especially important if we consider that loneliness gets worse with age. Older people often feel less needed and they need to find purpose again, which is very important in fighting off loneliness.
Joining clubs or joining Meetups can also be great ways to fend off loneliness. Spending time with people who have similar interests can open up new opportunities for friendships and even simply bring a feeling of being understood.
Some of us must learn to push ourselves a bit to get out into our communities again, as we often become very settled in our isolation and stop making an effort to be social. Even if we don’t particularly feel like going to an event, we need to just go!
Fighting off loneliness may sound like a simple task, but it can’t be done overnight. It takes a bit of time, and for that, we need to be physically healthy. If loneliness has gotten to the stage where inflammation has impacted our immune system, this issue may need some attention. BioPro-Plus is the all-natural supplement which helps to restore our immune system and fight inflammation. As we age, the production of thymic proteins wanes and it becomes essential to take this supplement in order to keep this important part of our immunity functioning properly. BioPro-Plus helps to modulate the immune system, which reduces inflammation and makes us ready to become more social and fight off loneliness.