Tips to be Fit: Loneliness can be harmful to your health – The Philadelphia Tribune

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Increasingly, studies show persistent loneliness can have a profound effect on your physical health. Insomnia, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease can be caused by loneliness. Studies have also found that loneliness raises your risk for premature death among adults 50 and older by 40%.
It’s easy to assume that anyone who is struggling with loneliness will know that he or she is lonely. That’s often not the case for many people. Loneliness gives you an extreme sense of social disconnection. Loneliness will give you a feeling that no one really knows you and what you your life is like. A lonely person doesn’t even realize that they are lonely. Friends and family might not necessarily recognize that a friend or love one is lonely. Most of us do need some time by ourselves in solitude. We need the opportunity to find and feel quietly without distraction and demand of other people. Loneliness is very different.
You spend hours alone and time on the computer, perhaps on Facebook or following the activities of friends on social media. A lonely person will have pangs of anger or envy when others around them are happy while you feel a big sense of dissatisfaction. You may even feel this dissatisfaction when you or spending time with other people. You can be alone, without being lonely. You can also be lonely when you are with others. People can look happy and well connected from the outside but are still lonely. A person can invite his or her closest friends to a party and still feel empty and isolated. A romantic relationship or marriage isn’t a defense against loneliness.
Chronic loneliness occurs when you have feelings of loneliness that won’t go away and have uncomfortable social isolation going on for a long period of time. You may also have constant and unrelenting feelings of being alone, separated or divided from others. You’ll have an inability to connect with others. You’ll have deeply rooted feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem or social anxiety.
The connection between loneliness and depression has been established for quite some time, but only recently have researchers discovered that loneliness itself is linked to elevated blood pressure, increased stress hormones and an impaired immune system. Loneliness also extracts a huge toll when people turn to unhealthy behaviors to avoid the pain of loneliness. These unhealthy behaviors can include drugs, alcohol or working too many hours.
According to Cigna Health the main signs and symptoms of chronic loneliness are:
Inability to connect with others on a deeper, more intimate level.
No close or “best” friends.
Overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who’s around.
Negative feelings of self-doubt and self-worth.
For the sake of your health and happiness, here are few tips I found that could help:
Share more about yourself. Make room for small connections. Sharing the details of your life with others shows vulnerability, which will foster a deep connection and help minimize your loneliness.
While quantity doesn’t replace quality in relationships a momentary contact can add to your sense of being part of the social world around you. Exchanged a few extra words with the cashier at your local convenient store or smile at those you pass on the street. These pleasant interactions will prime you for deeper more meaningful ones with close friends and family.
Be part of something big. Meaningful activities will bring you in contact with like-minded people. Volunteer in a hospital, volunteer at a food pantry, tutor a child who is struggling in school or join a gardening group. Whatever activity you choose stay involve for several weeks and if you’re not feeling more connected by the end of that time, then look for something else that might be more to your liking.
Don’t hold up by yourself when your life changes. Most people that have significant changes in their life such as job loss, death of a loved one, divorce or retirement use these events as an excuse to shut out others which sets them up for loneliness. It’s a natural tendency to withdraw at such times. If this goes on for more than a few months challenge yourself to set up two outings a week with a friend neighbor or family member to get yourself out of the house.
Consider getting a pet they can be more than company. These are real connections. If you don’t have time to care for a pet full time consider sharing a pet. There are several sites that’ll help you to meet people near you who are interested in doing this. You can also volunteer at your local animal shelter. Both of these activities are a great way to connect with animals and animal lovers.
Talk with someone who cares about you. Consider making an appointment with a professional. You may be going though a momentary depressive mood or something more serious. You don’t want to take any chances.
If you have a fitness question or concern, write to “Tips to be Fit,” P.O. Box 53443, Philadelphia, PA 19105 or send an email to Past articles can be found at by searching “Tips to be Fit.”
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