Let’s vanquish loneliness
New research evidence shows that loneliness is harmful to both the physical and the mental health of human beings. With the help of specialists, groups and even the internet, one need not fight this condition alone.
According to a commission that was set up in the UK in 2016, the impact of loneliness on one’s health is equivalent to the harm done by smoking 15 cigarettes a day. The commission also linked it with an increase in the risk of heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. A particular study also found that people who live in solitude have 64 percent more chance of developing dementia. Having strong social ties, on the other hand, can decrease the risk of mortality and the incidence of disease. In spite of the progress that today’s world has brought, more and more people are ending up alone and lonely and this phenomenon is of concern. Recognising the impact that loneliness has on a person is the first step towards addressing this condition.
Experts say there are two factors that create loneliness: not having basic social contact with others or, in spite of being surrounded by people, not feeling appreciated. A person who is suffering from loneliness must recognise which of the two factors apply to them to be able to address the emotions that are bound with their solitude.
One obvious and easy way of addressing loneliness is by talking to friends and family members. However, if this is not an option, one can also join a club or identify hobbies and interests in common with others that will help one socialise more. This is one way of making new friends and increasing social communication. A classic example is doing voluntary work as this consolidates contacts and helps the person doing the volunteering feel proud of being useful to society.
Spending your life on the internet is not recommended and such contact is no substitute for real life contact with others. Experts, however, recommend that elderly people who are experiencing loneliness spend some time on the internet. This may not be the best solution, but more than one study has found a link between loneliness and time spent on the internet. What is important is that chatting over the internet is complemented by face-to-face communication.
It is also recommended that one communicates over social media or does some voluntary work with some organisation. Some studies emphasise the importance of evaluating who you are spending time with. A study carried out in 2011 found that elderly people who spend time with their family feel less alone than others who attend social group activities with people they do not know.
Voice of the Workers concludes that too much solitude leads to one feeling alone. However, learning how to spend time alone is as important as having a good social life. Filling your time with hobbies – and, most importantly, appreciating the good feeling that they bring – helps fight solitude.