Loneliness blows. It’s no fun not having any friends to chill with. Whether it’s spending your Friday nights at home alone, or going to the movies all by yourself, nobody ever said that being lonely was the best time of their life. Even the shyest introvert would like to do fun and exciting things with friends from time to time. However, courage, time, and suffering through painful rejection are sometimes required to get to that point. Yes, being lonely may seem like a much safer solution compared to facing the harsh rejection that some people will put you through, but is loneliness unhealthy for you? The answer is very clear, and backed by scientific studies…
As it turns out, while your loneliness may be the easier solution, it’s definitely not the safer one. In fact, as the title of this article states, loneliness is actually killing you in a very absolute way. While you may be avoiding the risk and pain which you currently associate with rejection, studies have shown that loneliness is pretty much as unhealthy for you as being obese, drinking heavily, or being a heavy smoker… Skeptical about the facts I just laid out? Let’s look at some of these studies.
BYU News did a study on this topic, and came to the conclusion that loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. They also learnt that middle-aged people who suffer from loneliness are 24% more likely to develop heart disease compared to those who are not lonely. Another study published by JAMA Internal Medicine concluded that loneliness can increase the likelihood of dementia by 64%, and of an early death by 45%. Here are a few more facts that you should be aware of:
1. Being lonely leads to higher levels of stress
Without consciously realizing it, you’re probably worried about your loneliness. It’s human nature to yearn for some kind of human interaction. When you’re not getting these interactions, your levels of stress will gradually increase.
2. Being lonely can compromise your immune system
As shown in this Ohio State University study, inflammatory-related proteins are more likely to be produced in lonely people, as opposed to their non-lonely counterparts. You can click the link above to learn more about the scientific details, but basically this means that you’re getting sick more often because of your loneliness.
3. Being lonely means you’re less likely to take care of yourself
When there’s nobody around to care about you, you’re less likely to care about your own personal appearance. But not only that, research has also shown that being lonely can contribute to unhealthy eating habits/poor nutrition intake.
4. Being lonely increases the likelihood of becoming depressed
This one is pretty obvious, but if you’re spending a great deal of time alone, not getting out a whole lot, and avoiding interactions with other people, you’re more likely to become depressed.
Is loneliness unhealthy? Let’s add it up: MORE STRESS + WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM + POOR NUTRITION + FEELING DOWN ON LIFE… If my math’s correct, the answer = YOU’RE IN PRETTY BIG TROUBLE. If that’s not a fearful equation of health issues, I’m not sure what is.
Now my goal with this article isn’t to just scare the sh*t out of you, but to make you more aware of the dangers of being lonely. Yes, being shy and isolated does shield you from the pain of rejection, but you’ve got to ask yourself whether you want to play it safe, or play to win. The problem is that you’re still more afraid of rejection than you are of suffering from the major health issues associated with loneliness.
So let’s get your mind shifted into boss mode. What if you were more afraid of living a lonely life with a host of health issues than you were of talking to women/men or making new friends? What if you realized that playing it safe and not going out, and not meeting people online or out in the real world, was much more dangerous than than the very briefly unpleasant feeling of getting rejected? Would you consider doing things differently? Would you consider signing up for a new class of some sort (sports, fitness, cooking, art, etc.), talking to that woman or man who caught your eye, or going to a party even though most of the people there are strangers?
I hope so. Your health and future depends on it.