You may be better off smoking 15 cigarettes a day than being lonely.
Loneliness and social isolation pose a greater health hazard than we realize. The American Psychological Association conducted a loneliness study and states that about 42.6 million adults in the United States are suffering from chronic loneliness.
Another study has surfaced suggesting that being lonely is worse than smoking, hence the opening sentence.
The study was conducted by Brigham Young University in 2015. In order to prove their hypothesis that being lonely is just as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, the researchers analyzed data from different health studies. All the studies included more than three million participants that included data from social isolation, loneliness, and living alone.
The lead author, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, explains that “It exceeds the risk of alcohol consumption, it exceeds the risk of physical inactivity, obesity, and it exceeds the risk of air pollution.”
Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a clinical psychologist and gerontologist at the Rotman Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto, adds that the presence of others can alter a person’s cortisol levels and stress hormone levels. Social connections protect people and help maintain exercise and healthy eating routines.
The study also found that increased social connection was linked to 50% reduced risk of premature death. FIFTY PERCENT!
A 2016 Census found that one-person households account for more than 28% of all households. Since 2001, the number of couples that have children has been falling and only make up 26.5% of all households.
Apparently, staying home with friends, eating pizza and donuts is better for you than working out, staying slim, and breathing the outside air.
This is big news, folks. I may cancel my gym membership and toss my fresh fruits and vegetables in the trash.
Okay, not really. It is optimal to have close relationships AND stay fit, eat healthy and breathe clean air.
This is indeed a serious issue. We are created to be in community. This evidence is glaring proof. But we did not need a study to inform us of this.
We know it in our gut.
If you are blessed, as am I, to be surrounded by a loving family and dear friends, that is no small thing. It is a gift.
We must be aware of and sensitive to those who do not have this blessing. If you notice a person at work who is often alone, go to them. If you see a person at church sitting by themselves, ask them to join you and your family.
It can be even more simple. Give a warm smile to everyone you see. This alone may help someone not feel invisible.
And if that lonely person is YOU, reach out. Others are often simply unaware of another person’s loneliness. Take a walk and say hello to a neighbor. Go to the dog shelter and adopt the sweetest dog you can find. Walking a dog can open conversations with strangers.
As do all things that bring positive change, proactivity is essential. Begin. Do something today.
I think my husband and I will go out for double cheeseburgers and onion rings tonight. It’s a totally social and healthy thing to do.