Despite how common loneliness is, few people are fully aware of the dramatic ways in which it impacts us. Here are ten surprising facts about loneliness that will change how you view it:
- Loneliness does not depend of how many friends you have. Loneliness depends on the quality of the relationships and whether you feel emotionally and/or socially connected from those around you.
- Loneliness is contagious in social networks. Loneliness has a clear stigma. We tend to be able to spot and identify the lonely people around us.
- Loneliness actually makes us feel colder. Studies found that recalling a time in which we felt lonely made participants estimate the room temperature as being significant colder, it even made their actual skin temperature drop.
- Loneliness makes our bodies feel like under attack. Loneliness causes an immediate and severe bodily reaction. It increases in blood pressure and cholesterol, and it activates our physical and psychological stress responses.
- Loneliness suppresses the functioning of our immune system. Loneliness causes our immune systems to function less efficiently, which over time, puts us at increased risk for developing all kinds of illnesses and diseases.
- Loneliness is as dangerous as cigarette smoking. Scientists have concluded that given all the drastic ways in which loneliness impacts our bodies, it represent as great a risk for our long term health and longevity as smoking cigarettes.
Clearly loneliness represents a hugely important psychological harm and not one we should ignore. Make sure to take steps when you are lonely, and educate others around you about how detrimental loneliness can be.