A Lonely Heart Is Detrimental to Your HealthFebruary 14, 2020
Are You an Owner of a Lonely Heart?
While at a luncheon this week, our guest speaker said something that struck me hard:
Loneliness has been proven to cause heart disease over smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Loneliness causes an immediate and severe bodily reaction. It increases in blood pressure and cholesterol, and it activates our physical and psychological stress responses.
Chronic loneliness significantly increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. Over time, people who are chronically lonely have a much higher incidence of cardiovascular disease because their bodies are under constant and unrelenting stress.
See, the thing about loneliness, it can happen to the busiest person. It can happen to a married person. It can happen to children. Another piece of shocking information … It has been shown to be more prevalent in those who engage heavily in social media. So while you may be getting annoyed with those who over post, perhaps it’s a cry for help.
Loneliness depends entirely on the subjective quality of your relationships—on whether you feel emotionally and/or socially disconnected from those around you. More than 60% of lonely people are married. When married couples no longer share their deepest feelings, thoughts, and experiences with one another it can leave them feeling disconnected and alone.
Now I met my husband when I was 32 years old. I remember feeling like I was never going to meet “The One.” And if I met him, what if once he really got to know me, he didn’t like what he saw. I joke that when Stephen proposed to me that I jumped on saying yes because no one else had asked in 32 years, and it might be my only chance. Now I do joke, and truthfully, I couldn’t have found a better match, but I do remember those feelings of loneliness. I had a huge support system from my family, but it didn’t matter. I still felt lonely.
A few years before I met my husband, all of my friends were getting married. Anyone in that boat now? The always a bridesmaid, never a bride stage of life. I was dating a lot, but the dates were going no where. And then I would dive into my work and tell people that I was just so busy with my company to be in a relationship (lie). I also remember having a “wake up” moment where I better make some new single friends since my married friends now, rightfully, needed to spend time with their husbands instead of being my wing woman or travelling with me on girls trips. I remember almost feeling angry at them or at the situation anyway. With this wake up moment, I took action, and I started “picking up girlfriends” and started Friday Girls Night Outs. Every Friday, we would pick a new restaurant or bar and whoever could come would join us. Sometimes there was two of us. One time there was 19 of us. But we knew that every Friday night, there was a group of fun girls to go out with. It was a blast and I am still close with so many of these women. At Stephen and my wedding, I remember introducing people like “I met her at a street fest and we became friends quickly.” The point was, by creating this new group of friends, I became happy and was no longer lonely and soon after, I met the love of my life. You see, if you’re not happy, it’s difficult to be open to love.
Here’s a Few Tips if You’re Feeling Lonely:
Recognize the Feeling, so You Can Conquer It.
If we don’t know something is wrong, we cannot make it better. I was feeling frustrated. I was complaining a lot about little things. I actually had a friend point it out to me, and I was embarrassed. But it was the tough love that I needed. I also noticed that I was gaining weight and not feeling like exercising much. Once I started my Friday Girls Night Out, I started getting back into my healthy routine.
Talk about your loneliness with a friend, family member, or professional. When we verbalize that feeling, we can immediately feel like a weight is lifted off of our shoulders.
To Give Is to Receive.
Get involved in an organization that you are passionate about or share similar beliefs with its members. Find a charitable organization that you can volunteer your time to. When you know you are helping make others’ lives better, you cannot help but feel happiness. Giving your time will fill your lonely heart and maybe, if the timing is right, you just might meet someone with similar interests.
Valentine’s Day is about love. It’s not a Hallmark holiday, but the Feast of St Valentine, who died on February 14, AD269. He was known to be a romantic in many ways, which brought life to this romantic holiday. If anything, let this day remind you to spread the love. Be on a mission to treat lonely hearts. You just might be saving someone’s life.
Resource: Psychology Today, Guy Winch Ph.D. 10 Surprising Facts About Loneliness, 2014