Human is a social animal, and we need each other. The need for friendships and the help of others is necessary for our life and health. Every person needs strong family relationships, friendly colleagues, and a reliable circle of friends. But it is not the number of friends that is important but their quality. Short-term friendly and close relationships are better than many superficial ones.
However, the feeling of loneliness can occur despite the fact that you have friends and relatives. You should understand what loneliness is. It has been observed that social isolation and loneliness, being equally dangerous for a person, do not go hand in hand. Social isolation is an insufficient number of social connections or interactions, such as for example, communication with colleagues. While loneliness involves the subjective perception of isolation – the discrepancy between dream, desire, and real communication.
A person can be socially isolated and at the same time not feeling lonely. Such people prefer reclusion – this is a temperamental attribute. Here is another case. A person is surrounded by many friends and family, he or she is the life and soul of the party but does not feel an emotional reward in communication. He or she is completely lonely.
Loneliness from the side of science and psychology
Therefore, scientists began to seriously study loneliness and learn about it more and more. They have already revealed a direct link between loneliness and its effect on our mental and physical health and explained why loneliness is dangerous. According to scientists, not only the psychological well-being of a person but also the ability to live depends on communication. The researchers conducted two studies, in which 300 volunteers took part in 150 experiments. As a result, loneliness was found to increase the risk of premature death by 50%. In addition, researchers examined 70 studies that touch upon 3.4 million people in North America, Europe, and Asia, in order to find out how loneliness, social isolation and single life affect mortality. It turned out that they affect life expectancy and the risk of premature death to a greater extent than obesity and other factors.
Earlier, psychologists said that loneliness enhances self-centeredness. At the same time, they also proved feedback: the more egocentric a person is, the more they develop a feeling of loneliness. According to researchers, the health care system should take into account the effect of social bonding on public health. It is also necessary to build recreation centers and parks, where pensioners, who are the most vulnerable to loneliness, can communicate with other people.
How loneliness damage your health
At first glance, lonely people are happy, successful, kind, and self-sufficient. They feel comfortable in this state. But it is far otherwise. Loneliness and social exclusion pose a very big threat to human health and general well-being. Let's consider the negative influence of loneliness.
Loneliness is not just an unpleasant condition. It can also harm your body. Lonely people are more susceptible to reactivation of latent viruses than those who often communicate with other people. Single people are more often subject to inflammatory processes that occur as a reaction to stress, and, as a consequence, increasing the likelihood of chronic diseases. Moreover, it is believed that loneliness is often the cause of chronic stress.
From loneliness to depression there is only one step. If a person really needs communication but does not receive it and does not even have the opportunity to correct the situation, he or she begins to feel panic and hopelessness. This is accompanied by fatigue, lack of interest in doing something or going somewhere. There are problems with sleep and serious bouts of apathy.
A person suffering from loneliness tries to drown it with smoking, alcohol, and sometimes even drugs. In such a way, he or she tries to keep oneself a company and to raise the spirits. But as a result, a person gets only a short-term relief from longing, and in addition, he or she may acquire a number of other problems.
Problems with the cardiovascular system
People who feel lonely often suffer from hypertension. Instead of real friends, their comrades are high cholesterol level and excess weight. In addition, there is a higher incidence of coronary heart disease in lonely women. Also, the heart is influenced by bad habits and the fact that such people perceive a lot of things very sensitively, worrying about everything more than it is worth it. It turns out that loneliness breaks our heart in a completely literal sense of the word.
Lack of immunity
A close relationship with other people is necessary for a person to flourish in all spheres of life. Because of the feeling of loneliness and ruefulness about it, the same hormones are activated as during strong stress. A person reacts more acutely to the negative events of life, and it, in turn, destroys the immune system. Therefore, lonely people get sick much more often, and the illness itself is more difficult and longer.
Other negative aspects of being lonely
This is not all the negative effects of loneliness. There are also other consequences of this condition.
Diseases caused by nerves
According to the results of a study at the University of Chicago, it turned out that loneliness has a detrimental effect on human health, similar to alcohol, smoking, and overeating. Scientists believe that isolation from society is equal to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. In addition, people suffering from loneliness are very susceptible to nervous, cardiovascular and other psychosomatic diseases.
Loneliness is "contagious"
When a person talks about how lonely and unhappy he or she is, those who hear him or her may experience the same feelings. On the other hand, a lonely person is alienated from other people. In turn, people from their past entourage also become lonely, having lost their friend.
Distrust of others
As a rule, people who have lost an emotionally significant person become lonely: for example, after the betrayal of a loved one. To isolate oneself from the whole world after such stress is a natural state of a person, but one should not get involved in the hermitage since the very spirit of loneliness develops even more distrust of people.
Loneliness invisible to others
The peculiarity of loneliness is that not always relatives and friends can see the problem of the loneliness of a loved one. Precious time is missing and psychological illness progresses. Over time it may lead to other dangers of loneliness.
How to combat loneliness
To get rid of loneliness, you first need to consider whether it is positive or negative loneliness. If to talk about the temporary seclusion of a person from society in order to gather one’s thoughts and return to the world rested, then the necessary treatment option has already been laid here. If negative loneliness is meant, things are more complicated. But these 5 steps will definitely help you to get rid of loneliness.
Step 1. Awareness
First of all, you need to understand your situation, be sincere with yourself and take a closer look at the problem and its consequences. “I miss real friends or a partner. On weekends I sit alone while the others are having fun or watching movies together. Holidays are the most terrible time. Then loneliness loudly declares itself. I am often sad.” Sometimes it is very difficult to look at yourself from this point of view and fully understand your situation. But at this moment, there may be an idea that you need to change something.
Step 2. Create motivation
Now you think that it’s time to find a way out of the current situation. Motivation has appeared, and this is exactly the power that is needed to cope with loneliness. Most often you already have a solution – you know what needs to be done. The solution that is born in your soul is the best.
At this moment the most difficult thing is to overcome fear – the fear of changing your life. But now you need to get free of it, go ahead and at the same time look critically at various options for future events. Do not exaggerate the danger. Try to see the positive side.
Step 3. Set a goal
Now you already have the strength and motivation to change the situation. Then you should set yourself a goal. “What do I want? How do I want to live my life?” Now you are close to the goal – you know it, and you have made a decision.
Step 4. Take the initiative
Just act – you have all the prerequisites for success. Of course, there are friends and partners who match your interests. Be energetic and determined, and you will find a “treasure”! Friends are truly a treasure, and they will make your life more cheerful, healthy and long.
tep 5. Do not give up
If anxiety and insecurity appear again, just remember what has made you decide to change your lifestyle. Do you really want to continue being lonely? The answer is clear: no. Thus, you will understand what you are trying for and overcome your fear. It's time to make changes in your life. Do not think: “How will it end?” instead ask yourself: “How can I make it all good?” There are many sayings that you need to take the first step, to believe in yourself: “you can do it”, “you deserve the best” and so on. You can attach these cards to the mirror in the bathroom or to the refrigerator. They will remind you of how you value yourself and that you are on the way to success.
Having taken the first step, you move to the goal. You know how to cure loneliness. It is now easier to think about what to do next. You have a positive vision of the situation. Therefore, the first step is the most difficult. Of course, there are days when you are not sure about everything, you feel tired and vulnerable. Maybe that day you do not move on. But do not forget about your goal, keep moving as soon as possible. It is important not to give up after the first failure. Instead, it is worth becoming even more flexible. If the first attempt failed, look for a new solution to the problem.
If you perceive failure as a precious and important experience, the chance that you will succeed the next time increases many times. Failures are important and provide an opportunity to grow and develop. If you avoid failures, be aware – it is because of fear. Let curiosity win. Uncertainty is a part of life, and sometimes it makes existence more interesting.
Tips to prevent loneliness
Being lonely among people like you is very scary. This is worse than depression and apathy. Loneliness is called the disease of the 21st century. And more and more people are suffering from it. Now we are going to tell you how to prevent loneliness and live a happy social life.
Make time for private life
Work - home - work. This is a scheme of the lives of many people in modern society. You should reconsider the day's routine. And you need to make time for yourself. Life is not only a work. You need to be inspired by the outside world and be able to meet and communicate with the opposite sex.
Use all the possibilities for dating and communication: dating sites or just chat rooms and forums. Attend various parties and events: exhibitions, cinema, theater, and clubs of interest. Of course, maybe sitting on the couch, you will meet your love in the face of the TV repair technician. But the chance to get acquainted with your future loved one increases if you keep an active lifestyle.
It is important to develop an adequate self-esteem. It is necessary to realize that every person is worthy of love. You are no exception. You should not self-reflect and engage in self-criticism. You need to love yourself. But neither should you overrate your capabilities.
Be open to the world
It is natural for people to defend. Inside, a person can be tormented by loneliness, and outside – be tough and unfriendly. So how can others understand that you need communication? No matter how difficult it is, you should learn to smile to the world, greet your neighbors, find new friends at work, on trips, in a supermarket, on the street, etc.
Look for something new
A sure way to deal with loneliness is to learn new things and discover something unknown. When you turn on the "gene of curiosity" and are engaged in what you are really interested in, there is no place for sad feelings and blues. Go on a small trip and visit the surrounding places of interest: new cities, forests, parks, reserves, memorials, and museums. Try to discover something unknown and get acquainted with new people, so that you have a lot of things to remember.
From time to time, each of us feels lonely. Some people manage to cope with it, but there are still periods when it lasts an unexpectedly long time. Prolonged loneliness can lead to negative consequences. The feeling of loneliness reduces protection against stress and illness. Stress leads to inflammatory processes and has a harmful effect on the immune system, blood vessels, and various organs. It increases the risk of developing diseases and premature death. Social ties have a significant impact on our health. Follow our advice and you will certainly overcome loneliness!