We have a pretty serious health epidemic on our hands, and it has nothing to do with you are or aren’t eating.
It’s a “silent killer” if ever there was one, and it’s something a lot of us are doing our darndest to avoid.
According to a recent Cigna survey, 43% of us feel isolated from others.
The same number of people feel that their relationships aren’t meaningful. With over half of us living with a spouse or partner, that’s a whole lot of people who are partnered up but still feeling lonely.
So, what’s going on?
A lot of folks would like to blame the social media epidemic for our loneliness, but unfortunately that theory might not hold much water.
The same Cigna survey found that reports of loneliness were similar among young people who had high social media usage as among those who barely used it all.
What’s more, our young people age 18-22 report higher loneliness scores than that group we all tend to worry most about, the over 72 year olds. This is a disturbing trend for several reasons.
Loneliness does far more than affect our psychological health—it directly impacts our physical health as well. Feeling lonely on a regular basis can shave years off our life to the tune of almost a pack a day smoking habit.
Loneliness is more dangerous than obesity, more common than work stress… and it’s not just in your head.
The effects of loneliness are biological.
Regular feelings of loneliness translate to inflammation in the body. Your tissues and blood vessels get damaged by the inflammation, and before you know it your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis jumps way up.
The good news in all this is we hold the cure for our own loneliness and isolation challenges. This isn’t something we have to wait for some laboratory to cure.
And the big cure could be as simple as caring for someone else.
Studies have tied loneliness to a cycle that bounces between feeling lonely and focusing on yourself. Getting out into the community even in simple ways can break the cycle.
And you don’t have to volunteer every spare minute or take on a new career in nursing to do it.
Something as simple as engaging the cashier at the grocery store in conversation, or taking your dog to the dog park where you’ll meet and connect with others will start to break through the isolation.
All experts agree that it is face-to-face interaction that benefits us the most.
Social media won’t do it. Watching inspirational YouTube videos alone on your couch won’t do it. And thinking about it won’t do it either.
You’ve got to get out there and allow yourself to be interested in others.
Before you know it, they’ll be interested right back. And that not only feels good… it’s good for you too.
Editor, Patriot Health Alliance