3 Doctor-approved Tips to Help You Deal With Loneliness

3 Doctor-approved Tips to Help You Deal With Loneliness

Happiness and wellbeing require some self-care and self-compassion.

But happiness and wellbeing are definitely NOT just about the self.

Study after study supports the notion that real and meaningful happiness is highly related to real and meaningful relationships. It’s about belonging and feeling connected.

“Good friends make the bad times better, protect us against infections, and help us live longer with chronic illness.”

Read more in this Thrive Global article by Kelli Harding

As a resident, I took care of a patient in the medical intensive care unit in her early 60s, whom I’ll call Valentina. When I met her, her large frame lay sprawled out, motionless, on her bed. I saw Valentina every day for weeks, yet I never heard her voice. She’d been intubated with a breathing tube for respiratory failure before I arrived on the unit. She never had visitors.  

Then, one afternoon, a woman named Constance turned up. She brought a photo of a younger Valentina, decked out in a red velvet dress on stage at the opera. “I was her assistant for years until she fired me,” Constance explained. “She was one of the most renowned opera singers — and one of the most difficult people.” Constance sat with Valentina for some time that day, but only visited once. The following week, Valentina took her last breath without an audience. The tragedy of her final act haunted me.

Over the years, I’ve cared for patients who’ve achieved phenomenal professional success, yet spent their last days solo. Often the person has admirers from a distance, but they don’t go the distance by their side. Support, after all, is both the number of friends one has, and the quality of those connections.  

While Valentina’s death certificate didn’t state it, I’ve wondered if loneliness contributed to her early demise. As I discuss in my book, The Rabbit Effect, evidence shows that chronic loneliness is as risky to one’s health as obesity, smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or heavy alcohol use. A life lived disconnected from others increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and premature death. We’ve just begun to recognize the loneliness epidemic in America, and much less discussed are the severe and often unrecognized physical ramifications of neglecting our mental health.

So what can we do?

It turns out that the antidote for loneliness is all around us. It’s in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our schools, and our broader community. Decades of public health research show that if we improve positive connections to others in these often overlooked areas of everyday life, we’ll feel better, live longer, and lead healthier lives.  

While doctors may not often prescribe it, supportive friendships are powerful medicine. Time spent with loved ones can activate immune functioning, boost mood, and reduce pain, inflammation, and cortisol levels. Good friends make the bad times better, protect us against infections, and help us live longer with chronic illness. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but a good friend also helps us mend.

Here are three ways that you can create more positive connections to others…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE