Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

borderline-997613_1920You were not meant to be alone. Your physical and emotional states function best when you are in healthy connections with others. So what happens when a person lives in isolation?

Isolation often brings anxiety based in the fear that you are on your own and there is no one to help you. And in some ways, our staunch American belief that we don’t need others and should be independent, has not helped those who feel lonely but are afraid to try and connect with others.

People who are isolated struggle with fearful thoughts that often play into depression and anxiety. Rather than medicating a lonely state, one solution is to take action and move out of that state of loneliness.

Healthy relationships help prevent anxiety and depression by building sophisticated  neural networks in the brain that help modulate the stress response. And when stress is reduced, people feel better both mentally and physically. In fact, people who are isolated end up with more chronic pain. Disconnection, we believe, follows the same pathway as pain. So being left out, rejected and without people in your life makes you more susceptible to physical and emotional pain.

If you are lonely, get connected in your community and find friends. Join a church, a small group, take an exercise class, a cooking class or find a hobby that involves others. People need people! I love that my elderly father lives in a community that forces people out of their apartments to eat 3 meals a day together. The social aspect of eating does much to create a sense of community in his building. I often wonder about how many of those people would never connect with each other if they didn’t share meals. And when my dad complains about going to play bingo or do an activity, I let him complain and then make him go knowing it’s not the activity that matters, but the fact that he is interacting with other people and making friends. And for the elderly, this is critical.

Isolation is not something to ignore.  So get out there and give it your best to connect with other people. Don’t go it alone. Find your tribe, a place you fit in and can do life with other people. It’s too important to your overall well-being.

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