A new study [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences] sheds light on how loneliness triggers physiological responses that can make us sick. Loneliness has been linked to everything from heart disease to Alzheimer's disease. Depression is common among the lonely. Cancers tear through their bodies more rapidly, and viruses hit them harder and more frequently. In the short term, it feels like the loneliness will kill you. The study suggests that's because the pain of loneliness activates the immune pattern of a primordial response commonly known as fight or flight. The human body isn't built to hold a high level of inflammation for years. "That explains very clearly why lonely people fall at increased risk for cancer, neurodegenerative disease and viral infections as well," says Steve Cole, a genomics researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author on the study. NPR
Given the season of the year, thought it was worth posting some quick tips on dealing with loneliness during the holidays as well as link to the post from September 2014- The Loneliness of Chronic Disease.
Consider the following:
• Make the first move, by accepting invitations to social gatherings and reaching out to old friends and family.
• Volunteer to help out with a local charity, school, neighbor. Even if your chronic condition keeps you home bound, you can reach out to others by sending e-mails and making phone calls to check on others.
• Organize an event, such as: caroling, bonfire, watching holiday movies, a walk or hike, potluck supper, cookie swap (or bake) etc. If you are going to use Facebook to invite friends, ask people to message you so if no one is interested, at least it’s not public.
• Limit social media as it can be depressing seeing all the photographs people post of their “fabulous” holidays.
• Smile, as it will make you and those around you feel better.
Holiday Posts from Previous Years