Meera VenugopalMeera VenugopalUpdated: 6 hours ago
Loneliness is a 'silent killer'. Know how it can affect your physical and mental health

Loneliness can be detrimental to your health in more ways than you think

Are you aware that the invisible spectre of loneliness can have severe effects on your health? Indeed, the growing body of scientific evidence suggests that loneliness is not just a state of mind but a health risk akin to smoking, obesity, or lack of physical activity. In this article, we aim to shed light on the lethal consequences of prolonged isolation and how it can 'kill' you both mentally and physically.

The link between loneliness and physical health

Loneliness can be deadly and this is not an overstatement but a fact corroborated by numerous scientific studies. Lonely people are more susceptible to a variety of physical health issues as well. If you find yourself lonely for long periods of time, this can lead to increased levels of stress hormones, which in turn, trigger inflammation in the body. This inflammation can contribute to a plethora of health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and even certain types of cancer.

heart attack

Loneliness and stress can lead to heart diseases

A study published in the journal 'Perspectives on Psychological Science' revealed that loneliness could increase the risk of early death by 26%. Moreover, the health risks associated with loneliness are comparable to the dangers posed by smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol disorder. This is due to social isolation's profound impact on the body's physiological functions, leading to sleep disturbances, weakened immune systems, and heightened blood pressure.

Also read: Harmonizing the mind and body, how music enhances meditation in Yoga practice

Loneliness and its Impact on mental health

The effects of loneliness are not restricted to physical health and it can also wreak havoc on our mental well-being. People experiencing chronic loneliness are more likely to suffer from mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Loneliness can also increase the risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer's disease, by as much as 64%.

Moreover, loneliness can create a vicious cycle of negative feelings and low self-esteem, making individuals less likely to seek help or engage in social interactions, thereby exacerbating their isolation.

Loneliness in the digital age

Despite the technological advancements that have made communication easier and more convenient, the digital age has paradoxically seen an upsurge in feelings of loneliness. In a world where online interactions often substitute face-to-face communication, individuals may feel more isolated, with 'virtual' connections failing to deliver the emotional fulfilment derived from physical interactions.

Steps to combat loneliness

The potential health hazards of loneliness stress on the fact that it is absolutely paramount to find ways in which you can combat the issue before it gets the better of you. While being alone for certain amounts of time, being lonely is detrimental and here are ways in which you can get out of the situation.

1) Reach out to friends and family and make an effort to stay in touch with the people you care about.

2) Volunteer for a cause you care about, join a club or group or take a class.

3) Picking a new hobby is a great way to meet new people and have fun.

4) Spend time in nature to reduce stress and improve mood.

5) Prioritize taking care of your own self. This includes eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

sleep man

Getting enough sleep is important in improving your overall health

6) If you're feeling lonely, it can be helpful to talk to a friend, family member, therapist, or other trusted person.

7) Celebrate your successes. This can help boost your self-esteem and morale on your low days.

8) If you're struggling to cope with loneliness, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Talking to a therapist will help you get clarity on your thoughts. A therapist will also help you better analyse your situation.

Remember, it's okay to seek help if you're feeling lonely. Reach out to a mental health professional, or confide in a trusted friend or family member. You're not alone; there's always help available. Loneliness is a battle we can win together.

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