Sense of loneliness is weary of mind and body. Our ancestors lived in the tribes and relied on others to hunt or collect food, raise their children and fight predatory animals. Your brain is connected to other people, and it explains loneliness as chronic stress, leading to a response to "fighting, escaping, or freezing." Over time, chronic exposure to stress hormones such as cortisol can damage your health.

In research, the unit and the lack of social and community links were linked to inflammation, genetic expression and even higher mortality. Therefore, it is important to know when to be alone and take steps to engage more deeply with others.

How do I know that I am very lonely?

There are two kinds of loneliness. The first is social isolation. You may spend a lot of time on your own, without a strong network of friends and family to hang out with. The second type of loneliness is loneliness. You can be lonely even in a crowded room if you do not feel cared for or feel that your needs are important to others. You may have friends or colleagues at work or a family, but do not feel that they can be relied upon for emotional or practical support. The two do not always overlap. You can live alone without feeling lonely, because you do a lot of fun social activities. You can feel lonely even if you are married, because you and your husband live a separate life.

What causes loneliness?

Some loneliness may be inevitable as you age: friends die or move away, or family members are too busy at work and children to visit or communicate. You may be more lonely at certain stages of your life, such as when you start college, after graduation, when you have a new child, after moving, after leaving your children home, or after retirement or losing your spouse. Today, many parents shape their lives around their children's activities, with little time to deepen and invest their friendships, leading to loneliness when their children move away. But loneliness can also be a personal feeling that has nothing to do with any particular stage of life.

What is the impact of unity on health?

Social isolation and loneliness seem bad for your health, but loneliness may be worse. Using tools from molecular biology, researchers were studying the effects of loneliness on human genes. They found that genes that promote inflammation are more active in single people; in addition, genes that inhibit inflammation are less active in single people (Cole et al., 2007). This may explain why loneliness increases the risk of infections such as asthma and autoimmune diseases. It has also been shown that the unit is a significant risk factor for deaths earlier. Its effects on health are the same or greater than obesity or smoking. Therefore, it is important to take steps to try to reduce loneliness if you can. At the community level, we need to provide more opportunities for the only people to socialize, especially when they are elderly.

Evaluate your unit

Researchers evaluate the unit with data such as the following. These are only a sample of elements, not an explicit questionnaire, so they can not tell you whether you are alone or healthy. But can give you an indication of the area of ​​your life that you may need to improve.

Calculate all of the statements below that apply to you:

  • I have no people hanging around or dealing with them.

  • When I need help, no one asks.

  • I do not have close friends.

  • I do not feel that I am part of a group or community.

  • I do not have anyone to talk to.

  • My relationship is superficial.

If you calculate more than half the items, you should consider whether the unit may be a chronic stress for you.

What can I do to prevent or treat loneliness?

1. Develop a few close, caring relationships with friends, family, or coworkers.
Put effort into maintaining your closest relationships by checking in regularly, acknowledging important life events, listening, showing up when they need you, and being there through life's ups and downs.
2. Get out more.
Think about group sporting, creative, social, or volunteer activities that you would naturally enjoy or find meaningful. Do some research and make a specific plan about how to fit these into your busy schedule. What are you willing to let go of to make more time for socializing?
3. Take inventory of your relationships.
If most of your relationships are superficial, consider if you'd like to go deeper with these people. Are they capable of being the kind of close friend you'd like? Depending on the answer, you may decide to speak up more about your needs, reach out and initiate more, or look for different types of friends.
4. Have patience with new relationships.
Don't expect too much at the beginning. Friendships take time to build naturally. Try not to be too demanding of a new friend's time, and don't take it personally if they say "no" to an arrangement. They may already have a full life and will make more space for you over time.
5. Be proactive in organizing activities.
Organize a potluck party for coworkers or neighbors. Talk to your acquaintances about starting a book club or clothing swap. Start a regular dog-walking group. Organize a weekend outing or a picnic. It takes courage and lots of effort to be a social organizer, but the rewards should be well worth it.
Feeling lonely is a sign that your relationships or community ties are not meeting your social or emotional needs. It's easy to feel like a victim when you're lonely, but that won't help. Try to see your loneliness as situational or due to a lack of effort, rather than a sign of innate personal inadequacy. Some people are lucky enough to be born into families with lots of connections, while others have to build social networks for themselves. For most of us, loneliness is a challenge that you can conquer with some investment of time, effort, and emotional energy.