Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience across many fields. She decided to move into freelancing to take advantage of the flexibility and work-life balance it offers. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to mental health, fitness and nutrition
Here Jane talks about the impact of loneliness on mental health and advice on how to deal with it.
4 Ways Loneliness Can Affect Your Health and Entire Well-being
A new study has shown that loneliness affects the majority of adults in the UK. According to the research, 68% of adults say they experience loneliness, and this is most prevalent among 18 to 34-year-olds as 83% of people in this age group feel lonely. While technology has given people more platforms to connect, it appears that this has not helped to improve social interactions as one in 10 adults said that they do not know how to start friendships anymore. As a result, British adults are experiencing various mental and physical health problems brought about by the loneliness epidemic.
Reasons why people are lonelier than ever
There are various reasons why people are lonelier than ever. One is the lack of close friends. A survey has shown that people with no close friends are two-and-a-half times more likely to say that they feel down or depressed than those with four or more close friends. Moreover, younger people’s constant dependence on social media has also been affecting friendships as online interactions have taken the place of face-to-face communication.
Professionals’ lack of work/life balance has contributed to working adults’ constant loneliness, while the pressures of bringing up children have made parents lonelier than ever. Meanwhile, the elderly are most affected as half a million older adults over the age of 60 are experiencing social isolation and loneliness. It is imperative that adults should find ways to cope with loneliness as it can lead to various health problems. Here are 5 ways that loneliness can affect your health and entire well-being.
It leads to chronic inflammation
Short-term inflammation is a natural response of the body in order to heal from a cut or infection, but chronic inflammation can lead to cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. According to research, people who are lonely or who are socially isolated develop changes to their immune system which leads to chronic inflammation.
It can increase your risk of dementia
Loneliness puts individuals at risk of cognitive disorders such as dementia. A study conducted by the Campaign to End Loneliness has shown that lonely people have a 64% increased chance of developing clinical dementia. Currently, there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and numbers are expected to rise to over 1 million by 2025. As of the moment, there is no cure for this cognitive disorder.
It can make you more prone to depression
Constant loneliness can lead to depression which not only affects the mind but also negatively impacts our body. Depression can cause loss of appetite, constant fatigue, erratic sleep problems, muscle pain, headaches, and back pain. Long-term depression can cause weight loss, malnutrition, short-term memory loss, and it can even lead to suicide. For all these reasons, it has become more important than ever to find ways to overcome loneliness and avoid becoming socially isolated no matter what age.
It can increase the likelihood of death
It has been found that loneliness can increase the likelihood of death by 26%. It’s highly possible that all the mental and physical health issues brought about by loneliness can contribute to a person’s shorter lifespan. But all these can be avoided if we find ways to avoid becoming lonely and socially isolated. Here are some strategies that you can try to overcome loneliness.
Strike up a conversation
You may find it difficult to start a conversation if you’re not used to initiating it. But talking to someone can help to curb loneliness. The next time you’re waiting at a doctor’s office or if you’re in a long queue, try chatting about the weather or make a nice comment about someone. At parties, you can introduce yourself and encourage people to talk about their latest holiday or hobbies.
Invite friends or relatives for tea
It’s nice to be able to see your loved ones online, but it’s even better to chat face to face over a nice cup of tea. You can have a tea party with your friends at home or you could meet up somewhere and chat over tea and pastries. You may even want to make it a part of your weekly routine to give you something to look forward to every week.
Join a club
Everybody is interested in something. If you’re interested in books, art, crafting, “Game of Thrones,” or “Star Wars,” keep in mind that there are other people out there who share your interests. Check if there are certain meetup groups in your community and head out to join them every few weeks or so.
Loneliness can affect your health, but there are ways that you can combat it to protect your mental and physical well-being. Make friends, connect with loved ones, and be open to new experiences. Not only will you be able to overcome loneliness, but you’ll also be caring for your overall health.