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Loneliness Is Now A Major Global Problem – With The Risk Of Premature Death!!

We are learning that living a vibrant social life can give us tremendous health and psychological benefits. The results of many studies reveal that an active social life can reduce the risk of premature death by as much as 30 per cent!! Conversely, when we lack strong social relations, that can threaten our health as badly as being overweight, physically inactive or drinking too much alcohol.

In May of 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued a report that drew attention to an epidemic of loneliness that affects 1 out of 2 American adults. It further stated that its mortality effects are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! That is true worldwide where Brazil, Turkey and India are especially plagued by very high rates of loneliness. 

Chronic loneliness can lead to serious physical symptoms such as: a weakened immune system; increased inflammation; and higher levels of stress hormones. Loneliness is particularly  dangerous for our aging loved ones, when loss of partners and friends is most prevalent as well as having been linked to cognitive decline and dementia!  Other factors that contribute to loneliness include; living alone; lack of social support; and changes in life circumstances such as retirement or divorce.

Because of this huge impact, major medical authorities are finally paying serious attention to the importance of social relationships. The World Health Organization, for example, has just founded a Commission on Social Connection whose aim it is to raise awareness of loneliness as a global public health priority. 

Sometimes it seems hard to change how we’ve been operating, even when a part of us knows it’s not so healthy for us. So, if YOU wish to lower your own risks and avoid some of these horrible dangers, start by:

  • Paying attention to your own social life to discover whether you’re already experiencing some of the effects of loneliness – or anticipate that you soon will be lonelier
  • Looking at your amount of time and reliance on social media and technology, two factors identified as contributing to all this loneliness
  • Reaching out to the friends, family and colleagues you enjoy, even initating Zoom calls  
  • Volunteering
  • Finding groups you can join like book clubs, walking groups, gyms

I suggest you don’t try to change anything, but simply allow yourself to expand. Start by take a breath or two and get the “courage” it might take to look at your habits, assess your feelings and reach out for the companionship of those you enjoy, even if it’s been a while since you’ve been in touch. Then, do more of that. 

You just may find yourself living happier and healthier with a little bit of effort!

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