Sunday, September 20, 2020

Managing loneliness

Countless research studies reveal loneliness to be a growing epidemic, contributing to a variety of illnesses such as depression, dementia and heart disease with reportedly one research study at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), correlating severe loneliness with some cancers.

No one is ever safe from feelings of loneliness once in a while, including in young children who may be rejected by playmates, bullied or going through their parents’ separation.

Dr John T. Cacioppo, author of Loneliness; Human Nature and the need for Social Connection, says, “Loneliness is about half heritable, half environmental. But what’s being inherited seems to be the extent to which disconnection hurts. So it’s unlike the way salt sensitivity is inheritable.”

He says that, while people may have more friends by way of online social networks like Facebook, it is the quality of these connections that are lacking.

“In 1984, the question was asked in a survey how many confidants do you have? And the most frequent answer was three. That question was repeated 20 years later, in 2004, and the most frequent answer was zero.”

Cacioppo says this is dangerous because lonelier people have impaired physiological function, “not being able to think as clearly, to self-regulate and this can have serious consequences”.

However Cacioppo says getting out of loneliness is within our reach, “because it doesn’t require us being popular. Having a great friend can do wonders”.

Tips for fighting loneliness:
1. Know that loneliness is a state of mind not a life sentence
2. Learn how to like yourself
3. Avoid dependency on another human being for your own happiness
4. Learn to meditate so that you have to experience being loved than other sources who aren’t human
5. Exercise
6. Smile
7. If alone maximise the advantages of solitude
8. Avoid the ‘poor me’ syndrome
9. Don’t resort to desperation
10. Reach out to people you assess to be genuine
11. If the feeling of loneliness persists seek medical help, as it may be a sign of depression.Net-burst.net/wikihow.com/bostonglobe

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.