While we all know that “loneliness is bad,” there is actually more to it. Often people tend to confuse it with depression, which is really a different beast.
Most importantly, most people don’t know how to deal with loneliness. Let’s shed some light into this obscure and mildly uncomfortable subject, with these 7 facts about loneliness you probably didn’t know about.
1. Your Neighborhood Makes Adult Friendship Harder
The way our neighborhoods are set up affect our behaviors and sociality.
Friendship requires frequent encounters with people who live around us. And the choices of how our neighborhoods are set up don’t encourage those encounters at all.
While you may not want to be lifelong friends with your random neighbor, just bumping into them from time to time, can avoid that lonely feeling of living amongst strangers.
Turns out, friendly walkable communities, could help a lot in feeling connected – sadly enough, those are pretty rare.
2. Loneliness Is Tied To Coronary Heart Disease And Stroke
Yet another research comes to confirm what we already know from the previous ones…
Researchers now did a meta-study, and came up with a summary of 23 previous studies, here’s what they have found:
Loneliness and social isolation increased the relative risk of having a heart attack, angina or a death from heart disease by 29 percent, and the risk of stroke by 32 percent.
And those studies haven’t found any difference between men and women, we are all affected the same way by loneliness.
3. Loneliness Is Tied To Lower Than Average Immune System
More bad news!
Other than the risks related to heart disease, loneliness is tied to being more prone to inflammation and less able to fight viral infections.
It is even likely that long-term loneliness not only affect the immune reaction to infections, but may also affect the genes responsible for a strong immune system!
4. It’s Not Really “Lonely At The Top”
There is a myth about leadership; they say it’s lonely at the top. Well, not really.
Researches at top-level universities found that although it’s true that leaders and CEOs often feel a burden on themselves for taking high-risk decisions; they don’t feel isolated or lonely, relatively speaking.
In fact, they feel even more connected to people; and report fewer feelings of loneliness than you’d expect.
5. In The UK, There Is a £500,000.00 Fund To Fight Loneliness
That’s right; loneliness is starting to get official recognition as a health risk.
In the Uk, there is a £500,000.00 fund open to organization who are willing to do something to get people out of loneliness.
These are in-field organized actions, like visiting an elderly neighbor, or organizing a social event for the local community.
Now, that’s a start!
6. In Denmark, There Is A National Program That Urges People To Eat Together To Avoid Loneliness
Remember Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone? Well, it looks like Denmark took his advice quite literally!
They launched a program to fight loneliness, named “The World Eats Together.” They invite anyone, expat or local, to come to a public park or public space, and eat together.
Here is how it looks…
They actually found that solitude is just too much of a problem to just pretend that it’s not there. They started encouraging people to come together for a meal, at the least.
(And even the Crown Princess of Denmark attended one of their events.)
7. Friendship, As A Pain Killer, Apparently Works Better Than Morphine
File this under “Wuuuut?” category of weird facts.
Researches at Oxford University found that friendship reduces stress in the body, fights depression, and boosts the levels of brain chemical endorphins… which are stronger than morphine.
But they warn… that this does not apply to virtual friends; they’re talking about actual real-world friends with whom you meet on a regular basis.
How To Fix Loneliness
Interesting question! And the answer is also interesting: get socially connected.
Again, it’s more of a quality of connections than quantity. But most importantly, you have to learn how to make friends, and fit the socializing part of life in your already-busy schedule.
If you’re serious about taking action towards that goal, I invite you to read Get The Friends You Want. I wrote it knowing that all the friendship secrets in it wouldn’t be valuable if they weren’t applicable by even the busiest of my readers.
– Paul Sanders