Category: BLOG

Apr 25, 2018

Loneliness and Social Isolation is a Bigger Killer than Diabetes or Smoking

Most of us will go through periods when we feel a little lonely every now and again, such as when loved ones go out of the town for a few weeks, or the kids leave the nest. For many people going through this phase, the feelings will pass quite quickly, as they find other social activities to fill the gap.

Unfortunately, there is a growing portion of the population for which loneliness is an ongoing condition, and social isolation becomes their normal state of existence with no relief in sight. Humans are social animals, and without social interaction, the chance of an early grave can become that much higher.

While alcoholism and diabetes receive a lot of press, new studies are revealing an alarming statistic about the havoc loneliness is having on the death toll. According to these studies, loneliness is a disease that may even be able to topple diabetes as a leading cause of death in many countries, as the research indicated that social isolation is twice as bad as diabetes.

Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, of Brigham Young University, is championing the cause to shed more light on the growing health problem of loneliness and social isolation. Her research indicates that having the support of close friends and family throughout your life makes it 50 percent more likely that you will live to a ripe old age. The analysis of the data even goes so far as to suggest that social isolation is much worse for your health than smoking cigarettes

Part of the reason being socially active is so healthy for us is that it makes us feel responsible for others and as a result, we tend to take fewer risks, and spend a little more time looking after ourselves. There has also been research before Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad’s study, which indicates a shorter lifespan for those who never marry as opposed to those who do, or even those who marry and get divorced. A study of 67,000 Americans showed that bachelors aged between 19 and 44 were more likely to die in any given year than their married counterparts.

Infographic Source: topcounselingschools.org

The effects of loneliness aren’t just evident in the aged population, as the results suggested an improvement in life expectancy for every age. There were also no apparent discrepancies between genders, the current state of health, and cause of death for the subjects making up the study.

How to Avoid Being Lonely

There’s currently an epidemic going on, and it’s destroying the health of people all over the world. The blame can be spread over many factors, but in the western world, a significant portion can be laid at the feet of a society that embraces self-reliance, while rejecting all forms of dependency, or even admitting to the fact that you may be lonely. The most prominent risk factors for loneliness include rural or living in an otherwise inaccessible area, transportation challenges, mobility problems, living alone, language barriers, gender or racial identity barriers, and caregivers caring for someone with a serious condition.

We have become a closed society. Most of us don’t even know our neighbours’ names and the popularity of church groups, political groups, and other community organizations have been in decline for years. Maybe it’s because we live in a connected world, and there’s not as much reason to go out into it in person when you can do so much of what you need to do online. Interacting with others through a computer screen, however, is no substitute for face to face meetings or social gatherings. Our mental faculties just don’t receive the same benefit from online interactions, which should not be a modern substitute for being physically present.

If you want to avoid the health issues caused by loneliness and social isolation, then it is important you make room for social gatherings and face to face meetings of friends and family. Turn off the computer and step outside. Find a few clubs devoted to areas you are interested in such as a hobby club, a sports club, or a service club providing various community services for which you can get involved.

Anybody who is at high risk of social isolation needs follow this step to avoid social isolation to get emphasize strengthening currently existing relationships through simple things like having a cup of coffee or going to a movie together. Even scheduling a phone call on a daily or weekly basis can help reduce feelings of isolation.

As we get older it’s important we keep our brains active and don’t let ourselves fall into a state of social isolation. You can combat both conditions by joining a class to learn about something you have never done before. Keeping physically active is also important for good health, and there are many ways you can keep your body fit while enjoying some social interaction as well. Join an aerobics class or a sports gym with a friend, or talk to people when you are there, so you make some new ones.

Volunteering your services can bring about a sense of worth and purpose while you give a little back to the community and get to enjoy the company of like-minded individuals. If you are feeling isolated and lonely, don’t adopt society’s attitude of being staunch and tough about it. Reach out and reconnect with friends and family.

If that’s not always possible head on down to your community centre to find new opportunities for social engagement, meet new people, and make some new friends. If you look around your community, you will find there are heaps of opportunities for you to get involved in activities you enjoy doing, with people you like.

Thank You Is Best Served Right Away

Take Him the Money Now! – Show Appreciation Immediately-

When we ask someone for a job or another favor, we are generous with smiles and flattery. We are positive at the time that we’ll never forget how much we owe him or her, but as time goes by, gratitude fades to indifference. People who offer sincere thanks to benefactors will succeed; those who forget others’ kindness will lose their reputation.

(‘Take Him the Money Now!’ from “Something You Forgot … Along the Way)

Thanksgiving reminds many Americans every year to be thankful for all we have and to show appreciation for those around us who have enriched our lives so much. Too often we bury the true meaning of this holiday behind a greedy extra helping of stuffing and then stuffing our mouths with too-much juicy, tender, roasted turkey covered in savory gravy (no lumps). This year before plunging our forks into those soft, creamy mashed potatoes drowning with butter, we should really think about whether we’ve showed others the same degree of tasty thanks all year-round.

How many thank-you letters have we forgot to send over the course of a year? How many attempts have we made to repay our gratitude in all the other seasons to those who have gone out of their way to help us? When have we gone out of our way so much for someone else?

Just like in the short story Take Him the Money Now!, we can’t just wait around for turkey day to finally remind us to give back. Some may enjoy a foamy beer here or there or a glass of wine with their meal on this day. But gratitude is a drink that does not get better with time or fermentation. It’s a dish best served warmly and right away. So today, tomorrow, and every day showing appreciation should be on our minds. And we must try to show appreciation for yesterday too before it’s too late. Leaving the turkey too long in the oven may make it taste bad once a year, but leaving gratitude aside for too long deprives our whole lives of good flavor.

by Felix E. Crosser

How Do Buddhists Think?

Do you as a Buddhist believe in abortion?

Buddhism teaches that life actually starts before conception, so killing a fetus even before it takes a single breath must obviously be a horrifying Karmic act.

However, there are also other tragedies in life like murder and suicide. These tragedies will never end until all people finally learn the true value of life and the reason why they have to stay alive no matter how hard it is.

I think this is why Buddhism emphasizes sharing its teachings without pushing a judgmental or political stance. Once people understand the true value of each human life, they will find the answer for this question by themselves.

How do you as a Buddhist react to a same-sex marriage question?

I don’t even think of this matter as being religious. This issue is related to the current political and social meaning of the marriage system which determines whether a country gives a tax reduction or other kinds of merits to only different-sex couples. Therefore, it’s not a religious issue for me.

How do you as a Buddhist view a disaster like the petroleum leak in the Gulf of Mexico?

As a Buddhist, I believe that every incident has a cause and an effect. All the results we experience are caused by our own deeds. Because of this, Buddhism teaches there is no point to blame or to curse others for what is really our fault.

This accident in the Gulf of Mexico may have been caused by excessive greed, from a failure to enforce safety measures, or a variety of other reasons. However, we never attribute it to something external like God’s will.

The more negative an effect occurs in life like the oil spill, the more of an opportunity it becomes to deeply reflect on our past negative actions. In this way, we can examine what caused our own negative effects thoroughly, modify our current situation, and improve our future behaviors accordingly to avoid repeating the same failures again. This transforms major upsets on a societal level into a more personal reflection that brings about positive change.

How do you as a Buddhist think of the conflict in Middle East?

So many of moderate Muslims have been killed in India recently by a group described as more radical Muslims. Have these kinds of incidents occurred to different Buddhist sects?

Buddha’s compassion does not discriminate. All human beings, regardless of their gender, wealth, social class or race, are equally the object of his salvation.

There is a celebrated Buddhist thinker named Shinran Shonin who endeavored to guide all people toward True Buddhism whether they believed in the teachings or even whether they slandered them.

Because of his example, I strongly believe there is no way to justify attacking or killing someone holding different beliefs in the name of truth.