LONELINESS KILLS

“Cheer up” they say, as if the thought had never crossed your mind. Words of inspiration and encouragement can only achieve so little when you’re drowning in loneliness, as it really takes conscious efforts and determination to overcome it. Many feel loneliness is normal since virtually everyone experiences it at some point in time. So, they see it as a cross they have to carry and a way of life. While I certainly won’t disagree with you, I hope my next few words will make you review your position on loneliness. Faster than smoking, faster than cancer is the rate at which loneliness kills.

Independence is usually glorified in most spheres as a symbol of strength. As a society, we tend to value individual achievement and extol self-reliance. But in the long run, we come to find out that even the most independent person will one day realise how lonely he or she is. Statistics have shown that; since the 1980’s, the percentage of American adults who suffer from loneliness has increased from 20 percent to a staggering 40 percent, which is double the initial figure. Statistics have also shown that about one-third of Americans older than 65 now live alone. This, therefore, raises the question of what is the cause of loneliness and why is the number of those suffering from it continually on the rise?

The subjective feeling of loneliness increases the risk of death by 26%, according to a new study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. Social isolation or lacking social connection and living alone were found to be even more devastating to a person’s health than feeling lonely, respectively increasing mortality risk by 29% and 32%. Dr John Cacioppo, the world’s foremost authority on loneliness, maintains that the number of people in your life does not make you immune to the feelings of loneliness. Most of us know what it is like to be lonely in a room full of people, which is the same reason even a celebrity can be deeply lonely. You could be surrounded by hundreds of adoring fans, but if there is no one you can relate to on a deeper level, you will feel isolated. Little wonder why some of them end up dying from depression.

As an antecedent of depression, loneliness lays waste to mental and physical health. Loneliness disrupts your sleep pattern, increases stress hormone levels, alters immunity cells, and puts you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Some research has even gone to show that social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease.

Loneliness is breaking our hearts, but as a culture, we rarely talk about it. It is prevalent throughout society; it includes people in marriages, relationship, families, young, old and even people with successful careers. At times, it is okay to feel lonely as it only means we are human and in touch with our feelings. The downside to this is that it may drown you in depression if you accommodate it for too long. The period at which you’re lonely should be used to reflect on things, with the plans of forging ahead.

In the end, the state of being lonely is not entirely negative because a lot of positives can emerge from it, if and only if you are ready to overcome it and forge ahead like you should. Wallowing in self pity will only make things worse. So why not get out there, enjoy life, live healthy, make your dreams come true and live because life has a lot to offer. Trust me, with the right mindset life can truly be beautiful. Join us on the adventure of a lifetime.

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