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Until now, it was believed that loneliness is more likely to lead to psychological trauma. However, recent reports suggest that the physical toll caused by loneliness and isolation from society is severe.
Dr. “Surgeon General” of the United States. Vivek Marthi’s 81-page report found loneliness and social isolation to be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This can lead to heart disease, stroke, depression, dementia and premature death.
He points out that loneliness is more prevalent than smoking, diabetes and obesity.
But unfortunately most of the people are not aware of this loss.
Being socially connected is important for overall health. According to the report, the rate of premature death has increased by 26 percent due to loneliness. On the other hand, being socially isolated increases the risk by 29 percent.
How Loneliness Takes Physical Damage
“Brigham Young University” Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. “Our brains are wired for communication,” says Julianne Holt-Lunsted.
As advisors to the published report, he explains, people are used to working in groups.
In a report published on RealSimple.com, he said, “We expect closeness to people we trust. But that’s not available, we’re isolated, we can’t trust the people around us.” ..or we get kicked out of that group. It’s a threat to our existence.”
American neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman said, “Social interaction is essential for survival; Our body knows this. But the point is that a trauma like loneliness proves that social interaction is necessary.”
Just as the stomach tells when it is hungry, similarly loneliness indicates the lack of something.
Social isolation and loneliness cause the brain to go into ‘fight or flight mode’.
Lieberman explains it like this, suppose a lion is chasing you in the jungle. Now in order to survive the brain will release the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine throughout the body. As a result, unnecessary body movements will slow down, as well as prepare the body to deal with potential threats. As a result, all the energy will be spent to escape from the lion.
At the same time, the brain will increase the production of inflammatory white blood cells to dry out the wound as well as destroy bacteria. Only one goal – to survive.
When the objective is met, say a safe distance from the lion, our body will start behaving normally again. But if the body doesn’t get what it needs—in this case, enough social interaction—the brain will continue to secrete cortisol.
“Our genes naturally turn off ‘receptors’ when we detect cortisol,” explains Kyler Shumway, a “clinical psychologist” from the United States. But inflammation occurs when the brain produces too much cortisol. Which increases the risk of heart disease and dementia.
But the good news is that Dr. Marthi said in his report that maintaining social connections based on age, health, lifestyle and socioeconomic status increases survival by 50 percent.
This means that there is benefit in nurturing our relationships to a significant extent.
how to be alone
Remember that loneliness and social isolation do not affect everyone equally. The risk is higher for people who already have health or mental problems, are disabled or are financially vulnerable.
“There’s a common misconception that there’s nothing wrong with being single if you want to,” says Holt-Lunstead.
However, evidence suggests that social isolation, even if not loneliness, has adverse effects on health.
Despite things like home delivery, being addicted to automated machines, and solitary entertainment, our biological needs to stay connected persist.
ways to get out of loneliness
In this case Holt-Lunsted gives three ways.
Nurture existing relationships: Being socially active also means being physically active. One day at the gym, the body changes. That’s why you have to go again and again. Similarly our relationships are not built in a day, relationships are full of continuous communication.
So things like being with people around you, sending text messages have to be done.
Join groups that match your interests: If you join a group made up of a lot of people, you’ll interact with a variety of people. It can be seen that their ideologies are different. Different people come from different places. In such a situation, even if the goal is one, there will be diversity. As a result, faith and determination power will increase in place of the feeling of ‘I versus them’.
Serving Others: Research has shown that helping others means you are getting help back. Be it volunteering or doing something nice for someone on your own initiative.
Asking for help is difficult. But helping others can break down those barriers and reinforce a sense of ownership.