“All great and precious things are lonely.” — John Steinbeck, East of Eden
This week's theme: loneliness practice
As I was scrolling through the news this week, I kept seeing one word trail across my screen: loneliness.
It's an emotional state, a distressing feeling that an individual's need for connection is not being met by their social relationships — and researchers are worried that the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a loneliness epidemic.
💡Social isolation, a term that's been on repeat during the pandemic, isn't the same as loneliness. Social isolation is defined as limited or infrequent social contact. The terms are different, but the experience of either can be detrimental to health.
If you’re feeling lonely, it’s not abnormal. Loneliness is actually common in the general population. Increased levels have been reported in women, younger adults, unemployed individuals, the elderly and individuals with disabilities. In older individuals, research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risk for anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and a weakened immune system. Teens and young adults appear to have been hit especially hard by loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.
We don’t need to fear our loneliness or feel ashamed of it. Instead, let’s mindfully turn toward our basic human need for connection, honor it and help each other through the lonely times.
As psychologist Richard Weissbourd says, if everyone who is in good shape could reach out to someone who seems lonely — just once a week — it’d help. We can always be good company to ourselves, and we can always be kind to each other,
Christen Mullane, Ph.D.
Looking for ways to work through loneliness or better understand how it is different from solitude? Take a quick listen to this Life Kit episode. Then, take a moment for a mindful journaling practice by recording your responses to these questions:
What are we reading? Glad you asked! This week’s MO recommendation is:
Braving the Wilderness
By Brené Brown
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