It’s difficult to imagine feeling alone in today’s world. With social media, texting and virtual … everything … getting any quality alone time is more difficult than ever. Yet many people seem to feel less connected with the people and the world around them. For these people, loneliness can become a way of life. (Just remember that it’s never too late to change things up! You’ll find my recommendations for banishing loneliness further down the page!)
Long-term loneliness can affect more than just your mood. It can become detrimental to your physical health. Here are some of the ways that loneliness affects your body.
When you’re lonely, you might spend a lot more time in bed, but you’re probably not sleeping well. Lonely people tend to experience insomnia and frequent sleep disruptions.
Increased risk of dementia
You can be surrounded by people but still feel lonely if you’re not making genuine connections. Studies have shown that lonely people are at a higher risk for dementia than those who live alone but have strong personal relationships.
Those suffering from chronic loneliness are more likely to have an overexpression of genes connected to cells that produce an inflammatory response. While short-term inflammation is usually not a major concern, inflammation that sticks around can increase your risk for heart disease and cancer.
When you’re lonely, you try to fill the void created by the lack of human connection. One of the most common ways people do this is with food. Think of all the movies you’ve seen where the depressed and broken-hearted character binges on ice cream, chocolate, pizza, pasta … whatever comfort foods are in reach! It fills a void, but jeopardizes your health in the process. This is a slippery slope and can lead to serious issues such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
We all feel lonely at times. That’s perfectly normal. But when it becomes a constant in our lives, it’s important to do what we can to combat it so that it doesn’t affect our physical well-being. If you’re feeling lonely, you have the power to take action and send those feelings packing. It’s all up to you! It might require you to put yourself out there (and outside of your comfort zone), but I know you can do it! Below are my tips for keeping loneliness at a distance.
Remember to make healthy living a part of every day!
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
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- Find your tribe. These are the people who get you. They have your back, and you have theirs. Lean on and support each other. Enjoy these genuine connections. Having a tribe even helps you to live longer! So join a local group, volunteer or find another fun way to grow your tribe!
- Face your fears! Don’t be afraid to get out there! Enjoy life … enjoy new experiences! You might be surprised by how things start happening for you!
- Make face-to-face connections. Social media is great, but don’t live there. Make the effort to meet up with family and friends in the flesh. This is when deep connections are made. You’ll keep loneliness at a distance while enjoying life and having fun.
- Unplug. Instead of connecting to your Wi-Fi, connect with nature. Get outdoors whenever you can. Walk through a park, watch a sunset, play with your kids in the backyard, take a bike ride. Enjoying nature nourishes your body and soul.
Dr. Nandi is the Chief Health Editor at WXYZ ABC Detroit, a practicing physician and a renowned international corporate wellness speaker, his appearances include TedX, college commencements, numerous charity functions and premier medical meetings suchas Digestive Disease Week