Cleaned up your diet, environment, and lifestyle and still not feeling 100%? While there are many contributing factors that can still cause issues (such as unidentified health problems, lack of stress management, etc.), social isolation can play a huge part in poor mental health as well as other chronic health issues.
In fact, when I’m feeling a little extra lonely, I’ve noticed a huge flare-up in my issues as well. In a society that frowns upon emotion and instead admires one’s ability to be without emotion, many people have been conditioned to believe that mental health issues as well as simple emotions such as loneliness DO not contribute to autoimmune problems. Unfortunately, falling prey to this stereotype may only hinder your recovery as opposed to help it.
While emotional control and stress management may help, overlooking the importance of social support on your wellness journey is not a good idea. According to Chris Kresser, a globally recognized leader in the fields of ancestral health, Paleo nutrition, and functional and integrative medicine, “Socially isolated people have a higher risk of disease and death even after controlling for traditional risk factors like physical health, smoking, and alcohol consumption. By contrast, having a positive social-support system has been shown to extend life span and improve cardiovascular, immune, and mental health.”
Many others have also touched on such topics. The following articles discuss the many other downfalls of social isolation and give an overview of studies done on such topics:
- Lack of social support can cause depression: http://chriskresser.com/the-heart-of-depression/
- Lack of social support can result in a higher risk of death and obesity: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/health/21well.html?_r=0
- Lonely people can have increased inflammation and a decreased ability to fight off infection: http://www.livescience.com/52888-loneliness-health-inflammation-viral-infections.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=most-popular
- A healthy social life may be as good for your long-term health as avoiding cigarettes: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2006938,00.html
- A social network is important for hormone regulation and reducing the secretion of cortisol: http://www.thepaleomom.com/2014/12/health-benefits-connection.html
Don’t have the support you need? Maybe you weren’t born with a good family, aren’t the best at making friends, or feel like you’re getting too old to make new friends? Luckily, in this day and age there are plenty of great ways to meet people, stay tuned for next week’s How to Make Friends as an Adult blog (coming soon) for more information! When I first got sick, even if not close by, I was lucky enough to have the unconditional love and support of my family. However, to this day I still feel lonely from time to time (one of the main reasons I started this blog was even though I have an amazing and understanding family, I’d love to meet some people who can relate to what I’ve been through <3). I don’t want you to feel the same loneliness I endured when I first was sick! Please help speed up your recovery by taking the next few weeks to do what you need to do to meet just a couple more people who can give you some socializing time. If you don’t have enough time to go out, feel free to start small and converse with others in the comments as well as in my forum which was designed to help love and support each other in our wellness journey.
Here’s to a little less loneliness and regaining our sparkle together,
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