Have you ever felt the need to have someone just to listen to whatever you have to say? Were you ever in a scenario where you can’t think of anything but to try to make yourself happy? Being lonely is normal, it’s like we were born with it. As a matter of fact, it’s a good thing that you feel lonely at times because you know you still have the sense of “feel.” However, chronic loneliness suggests more.
There are a lot of news, surveys, and articles that denote loneliness as a sign of bad health. Surprisingly, a new survey of 20,000 Americans has said that young people are a lot more likely to report being lonely than senior citizens. For the Z Generation (ages 18 to 22), the score was in fact highest; loneliness scores of around 48. People over 72 however, were reporting a score of around 39. What’s more interesting about that is being lonely is actually seen as worse than smoking around 15 cigarette sticks a day. That number alone concludes that being lonely poses a greater risk than obesity.
What is that loneliness score?
I asked the same question as well. The loneliness score is a tool used by UCLA and they named it the Loneliness scale. Obviously, this scale is used to gauge a certain person’s loneliness level, making it easier for them to find the root cause and have a resolution to the problem.
Another study done by The American Psychological Association says that about 42.6 million adults who are over the age of 45 in the United States are estimated to be suffering from chronic loneliness after they did a loneliness study. Imagine that compared to Gen Z.
Researchers at Brigham Young University in 2015 was responsible for the numbers. In order for them to prove their hypothesis that being lonely is just as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, researchers analyzed data from different health studies.The studies say that more than 3 million participants that included causes which comes from living alone, loneliness, and social isolation.
The lead author of the study, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, explains that “the result of this study is comparable to obesity; something that public health takes very seriously.”
In addition to that, she said that people need to start taking social relationships more seriously. Julianne also mentions that the results from her 2015 study are
Comparable to the risk of smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. It exceeds the risk of alcohol consumption, it exceeds the risk of physical inactivity, obesity, and it exceeds the risk of air pollution.”
On a different note, Cigna, a well-known U.S. Health Insurance firm made a survey about it. They were the ones who reported about the Loneliness Calculator and that it was from UCLA.
I know that you would blame social media and it being misused. As a matter of fact, it actually holds no bearing. According to Cigna, the use of social media alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7). Not much of a difference so let’s not point the blame on the internet.
So if you are feeling lonely and if you are diagnosed with chronic loneliness, what are the things you can do to reverse it so you will be happy?
Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph.D., says that being extremely lonely can damage not just the emotional structure of a person but the physical and mental connections as well.
Persistent loneliness isn’t only emotionally painful, but can be more damaging to our physical and mental health than many psychiatric illnesses. For instance, lonely people sleep poorly, experience severe depression and anxiety, have reduced immune and cardiovascular functioning, and exhibit sings of early cognitive decline that grow more severe over time.
In addition, she also adds that a lot of psychologists tried numerous ways to treat this. Yes, severe loneliness can be treated.
So what do you do when you experience the same situation?
Dr. Oren Amitay, a Toronto psychologist, says that one of the ways people can deal with chronic loneliness is to try and keep themselves busy with a hobby or project; doing this gives them purpose. He also adds that for seniors who are isolated because of lack of mobility, a domestic and safe pet can help.
But aside from that, what are the other things that lonely people can do to avoid having episodes? Many psychologists suggest to target the root of their sadness. That matter could be different for each person but by looking at the problem from the inside, they’re more likely to resolve the problem faster than they’ve expected.
Try talking to other people you come across with; don’t be that weird and shy type of person who declines everyone who says “hello,” don’t cut them out just yet. Maybe, they’re like you who needs someone to talk to. Furthermore, being this proactive and consistent could make you realize that you are not alone.
So if you think that you’re being lonely but it’s not the “safe” type of lonely anymore, better consult a professional practitioner. By doing this, you would know what to do, what to avoid doing, and of course have tips to other people who’re the same as you. Remember, nobody wants to smoke 15 cigarettes a day, right?