Interesting title, isn’t it? Did you realize that 4 in 10 people (40%), in our population will experience some sort of loneliness at different times in our lives? It hurts, it feels empty and cold. However there is an important distinction between feeling lonely and being alone. Understand that there are people who feel alone and really are alone. On the other hand, there are those people who actually choose to be alone, but, are not really alone.
Of course, we have all either been left alone, experienced the feelings of being alone, or possibly both simultaneously during some point in our lives, right? I think back to when I had to relocate to a new state and when I had to start different jobs throughout my career. I did not know anyone which really caused a lot of anxiety and those ugly feelings of loneliness took a toll on me. Naturally, these experiences can produce solitude and loneliness. So, if we are not careful, these feelings can have a negative impact on our physical health, as well.
Now, I want to point out that there is both a medical and psychological element attached to this discussion that I will touch upon. We do know that being alone, which we often refer to as solitude, can arouse one’s artistic talents and boost our concentration, yet, there is a frightening effect on your health. Mind, body, and our ageing process are all negatively affected when we socially isolate ourselves.
Scientists have identified that our loneliness is tied to our genetic makeup. More specifically, those who experienced what we call “chronic loneliness,” their genes expressed a distinct pattern that produced inflammation in their immune system. So, what does that really mean? Well, it means that lonely people have a higher probability of dying earlier because their immune system is not strong enough to fight off infectious diseases.
Psychologically, the impact is just as uncomfortable. Loneliness can lead to a mood disorder widely recognized as depression. It can wreck one’s self-esteem. Confidence becomes fleeting as the tentacles of loneliness squeeze any and all feelings that one might yet have regarding being worthy of the attention of others.
If you sit back and really think about it, we as a collective society are are a social bunch. We are wired to be that way since we were kicking to get out of the womb! We really do need to interact with each other to feel connected, be alive, and progress. Just as important, is cultivating an environment around yourself with those who you can mutually enjoy meaningful relationships with are, at least in my opinion, the best medicine. Enjoying a life that you can be content with, active in, and flourishing is in itself the treasure of being connected.
Sometimes I feel like I cannot write a single sentence unless it’s grammatically perfect. The screen sometimes remains blank for quite a while for fear I’ll say something that might be misunderstood. Wait, is that a smudge on the screen, got it, that’s better. Hold on a minute this keyboard feels dirty…I just need to clean that up too, yeah that’s much better. Now where was I? Ah yes, I was putting my colored pencils in order from brightest to darkest colors, I think. Wait, I need to go wash my hands again.
Does this sound like you, or someone you know? Do you find yourself unable to let unwanted thoughts go? Maybe you perform some rituals like counting, checking, or washing your hands in an attempt to control your thoughts. It’s not helping though, is it? These rituals are compulsions and the unwanted thoughts that you cannot let go of are obsessions. These compulsions (rituals) can become so intrusive that your life begins to revolve around these rituals. This is what we call impairing your daily functioning.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I find, is often an under reported and underdiagnosed disorder. OCD typically develops in early adolescence and can be easily overlooked as quirky behavior. However, as children grow into their teens the obsessive thoughts and compulsions become more obvious to those most closest to them. I find that my clients have become expert at masking their symptoms to the outside world, but, it takes a terrible toll on their self-esteem, happiness, and as a result they really struggle to find meaning in their lives.
However, there is hope, there are tools, and there are medications that can all help you manage these symptoms of OCD. Remember, as with everything in life it will take consistent effort, patience in the process, a trusted therapist, a good psychiatrist, and family support. You must see the process through to the finish. There is guilt and shame to work through, as well. At times, you may battle the ugliness of depressive feelings, or debilitating symptoms of anxiety. Take heart, you will get through this with a good therapist, learned tools, family support, proper medication, and perseverance. I have witnessed this time and again with my clients! So, do your research and become educated. Please do not beat yourself up, but, do get help!
9 Ways Your Dog Knows you Better Than Anyone Else
When I was in high school, I experienced my first real heartbreak. I was in the lowest of moods and moped around the house like a modern-day Eeyore. Everyone left me alone to “grieve” in peace — everyone, that is, except for my dog.
Sapp followed me around like a shadow as I sulked and quietly hid in my room to cry. He even resorted to sleeping on my pillow — right next to my face — that night. The next morning I was in better spirits (and so was he).
My story isn’t uncommon. Pups really are a man’s best friend — and there’s research that backs this up. One study found that dogs can not only read our emotions, but they act accordingly based on how we’re feeling. How’s that for intuitive?
Below are nine other ways our furry friends understand and adapt to our complex personalities, effectively making us happier and healthier humans.