Loneliness can be detrimental to your health and research shows that it can be as bad for one’s health as a long-term illness such as diabetes.
Some researchers have equated loneliness to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being alcoholic. It is as harmful as not engaging in physical exercise and twice as bad as being obese.
Though some people tend to associate loneliness with older people, studies show that the disease does not discriminate. It affects both the young and the old.
Worse still, is the fact that people that are lonely are more likely to die prematurely than people with a good social network.
“Social isolation and loneliness are akin to a chronic long-term condition in terms of the impact they have on our patients’ health and wellbeing,” Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard told a general practitioners meeting in Britain.
“Loneliness and social isolation are not the exclusive preserve of the elderly. They are not something that can be treated with pharmaceuticals or that can be referred for hospital treatment,” she was addressing the Royal College of General Practitioners during its annual conference.
How to handle it
You can handle loneliness by seeking to identify its cause(s) and addressing them. By handling the challenge, which could be as a result of broken relationships or internal wrangles within an individual, the next step is to establish good connections with other people.
These could be like-minded friends or family members. Sometimes, it could be seeking help from trained health practitioners.
Also, engage in new activities like exercising, joining a book club, or a group to learn a new skill or language. By keeping yourself busy, you engage your mind, and most importantly acquire new friends.
But the most important relationship you should fix first is with yourself. And this may mean correcting ways of thinking to be more positive and practice self appreciation. Be happier with self and treat yourself better. You deserve it!
As for health practitioners, what these patients “really need is someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life,” says Dr. Helen.
As an individual, be the change you want to see in the world. Next time you are seated/standing next to someone, be the first to know how they are. It might be the only conversation they have had all day!