Ever found someone alone in a gloomy room probably contemplating about why their life is this way. Nothing might be wrong outside. But they might really feel awful inside.
You might want to find a way to cheer them up. Loneliness is not only dangerous for your mental state but also for your physical health.
It’s in the Genes
When we are lonely, it triggers our genes to do damaging effects on our body. In a seminal study, they found out that the “feeling of loneliness” cause our immune system to deteriorate and also increase our cellular inflammation.
According to this Forbes Article, the “feeling of loneliness” generates the reaction called “conserved transcriptional response to adversity (CTRA)” that leads to the effect stated above. The longer we feel lonely, the lengthier the effects of CTRA will be.
In layman’s term, what this means is that we are not protected against infections and viruses, and our bodies tend to age faster in this period.
With viruses infecting our body almost freely and with the heightened degradation of our cells, this sequence will ultimately lead to numerous ailments in our bodies.
Stress Hormones Shoot Up
For instance, the cortisol levels of our body tend to go up when we are lonely. Cortisol is the stress hormone that gets elevated when we face a problem. It is mainly used by our ancestor’s for their survival.
Cortisol taps into our reserves to temporarily increase our energy. In return, it impedes other bodily functions not needed for immediate survival. Cortisol releases sugar across the body for immediate energy. It also forces the heart to pump faster.
But in our time, we don’t need that much cortisol. The constant high levels of cortisol would lead to various complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
As for the other side of the spectrum, the presence of CTRA forces the body to produce proteins in response to this feeling. The proteins put us into chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is an immune response against body dangers such as cuts, bruises, etc. This is our body’s response to heal itself.
But then, chronic inflammation is when our body attempts to heal our organs internally when they don’t need that much healing. This prolonged inflammation is linked to a plethora of diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, cancer, and many more.
Loneliness also affects our sleeping patterns. Even if you follow these7 Habits to Cultivate Better Sleep, the quality of sleep you have might suffer.
In our previous articles, we know that Dreaming is Good for Your Overall Health. But you can only achieve this state if you are having constant cycles of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. And this can only be accomplished by uninterrupted slumber.
Studies have shown that loneliness, though not affecting the length of sleep, is a cause of sleep fragmentation. In other words, you get to wake up intermittently during your bedtime.
This interrupted sleep would not let you get the full benefits of a restfulness. Feeling lethargic the next morning? Check if you’re lonely.
Alone Time vs. Loneliness
With these literally deadly implications, how do you even know if someone is lonely? Is being alone binge-watching Netflix considered lonely? Not 100%. Alone time doesn’t equate to loneliness.
Alone time is the time you set aside to unwind, relax, and contemplate about your inner self. It is BY CHOICE that you want to be alone for an enriching and positive purpose. Contrary to its outward appearance, it can actually help you be more productive and be more sociable.
On the other hand, loneliness is a feeling of being cut off from other people. It is characterized by an unbearably deep sense of separateness.The person might just be isolated involuntarily. Or s/he might have intentionally disconnected himself/herself because of a problem s/he is escaping from.
To better understand the person’s case, let us pinpoint the causes of loneliness.
Social Norms and Constructs
Personal relationships are important to every human. We are innately sociable creatures. For the most part, we strive with communities and live better, proven either back in history or up until now.
But then, certain aspects of society alienate others from having a connection with a community.
Some people might be abused or bullied in school or at work that made them feel lonely. How can you feel accepted when the whole crowd treats you like a walking joke?
Others might just be unable to fit in. It may be because of their special qualities or behaviors. Certain people might find them weird to be friends with. And for the special people, they just might not get along with “normal” people.
Additionally, the elderly might feel lonely in our society. Normal elderly people seldom interact with their families because of their children’s busy schedules. They’re weaker stature might also hinder them from meeting new friends or seeing old friends. This may cause them to feel isolated from the current population.
Ending of a Relationship
Another cause of loneliness is severed relationships. Breakups and Divorce are sensitive occurrences in one’s lifetime, especially for long-running relationships. Undergoing such painful experience definitely will lead to loneliness for the people involved.
Also, a death of a close friend, relative, or a spouse may induce varying degrees of loneliness. The realization that your loved ones are gone forever lead to cycles of depression for most people.
The onset of technology brought about online social interaction with just a click of a button. Ironically, this made most people lonelier. It can even cause serious mental health problem to teens and adults alike.
Some people tend to put a “perfect life” in social media, which are often far from their real lives. This escapism makes this person lonely inside probably not even knowing it.
As for the viewer, they might grow envious by comparing themselves to those having their “perfect lives”. This dangerous comparison might lead to loneliness, especially for people with low self-esteem.
One must find the cause of their loneliness. It may be different for every people. But whatever it is, try finding social connections around the community to battle your loneliness.
With the Internet right now, it might be easier to connect with people of the same interests. Find a new hobby. Volunteer for a greater cause. Find someone you really trust and talk to them. Try not giving a care about what other people think. When you are plugged in with a community, you might feel happier.
Also, you can battle loneliness by being at peace with your inner self. Find things that make you special. Find your strengths. You can even try Loving Kindness Meditation. It is only then that you might be truly happy and unfazed.
To end, loneliness is something everyone will experience. The world is full of things to be unhappy about. With proper help, everyone can surpass all these trials. Conquer the world amidst all the bitterness.
Just hang on there, mate!