Loneliness is a Global Epidemic
Relationships and community are as essential as water, food, and air. Connection with others is essential for our survival and it is a core human need. When it comes to the dangers of loneliness the answer is very simple, we are social animals. If our needs for other human beings is not met, we suffer and our health declines mentally, physically, and spiritually. Staying in touch with loved ones has been made easy with all of our recent technological advances; however, cases of loneliness seem to be rising. Just because we are connecting with others via technology does not mean our human need for intimacy is being met.
According to Duke University researchers, the number of people who said that they didn’t have someone to discuss important matters with has risen to 25 percent. Loneliness is one of today’s major public health crises, affecting 30% of us. Social isolation significantly increased a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous than obesity.
These rising isolation cases can have devastating consequences as social relationships impact mental and physical health. In fact, loneliness leads to health complications like high levels of cortisol and overeating. There are several ways to overcome your loneliness you just have to put yourself out there. It’s the quality of your social connections that counts, not exactly the quantity. So it’s important to discover and maintain healthy, fulfilling relationships.
How You Can Begin Healing Your Loneliness Today
Learn What Triggers Your Loneliness
To better treat your loneliness take the time to examine what is triggering this emotion for you. Triggers for loneliness vary from the loss of a partner to relocation. Other triggers for loneliness include the following: isolation (due to lack of money or transportation), exclusion from activities, retirement, or care giving roles. Take time to reflect on your situation and create a plan on how you will bust your loneliness.
Build Your Courage
Sometimes people isolate themselves because making new friends can be nerve wrecking. To end your loneliness it’s important to take steps to build up your courage. Be mindful of your thoughts. Stay positive and build your self-esteem by listing all the characteristics that you love about yourself. Don’t forget to acknowledge and accepting your own limitations; no one is perfect and that’s okay. Remember that you aren’t alone in feeling nervous when meeting new people and that the benefits of forming new connections outnumber any fears you may have.
Greet the Neighbors
Studies show that one type of relationship that is on the decline in this time of isolation is neighborly connections. Fewer Americans are taking the time to greet and get to know their neighbors. This is unfortunate as neighbors are important for building a strong community and social connections. So, consider giving a welcome kit to new neighbors. Or join a local neighborhood committee to get to meet more of your neighbors.
Reconnect With Old Friends
Studies also show voluntary associations (relationships that are not based on marriage, biological relations, or work associations) have also decreased in recent years. Revive these “voluntary friendships.” Start regular contact (phone calls, text messages, email, or visits) with your long-lost friends. Frequent and consistent contact can strengthen weak friendships.
Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer
What are you passionate about? What creates joy in your heart? Do you love animals, flowers, birds, children, or elders? Do you love to read, garden, or help others? There are innumerable organizations where you can volunteer with like minded individuals. You will meet new friends and discover new meaning in your life. Volunteering is a healing balm for loneliness.
Here are some other ways to to help you to fight the dangers of loneliness.