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How social isolation changes the brain

https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/how-social-isolation-changes-the-brain

inverse.com

How social isolation changes the brain
In healthy older people, loneliness has a pattern of stress response similar to that of people who are under chronic stress.

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Loneliness Is A Kind Of Pain

Loneliness Is A Kind Of Pain
  • Loneliness affects 19 to 43 per cent of adults who are now past 60 years of age.
  • Just as physical pain is a warning from the body telling us to take appropriate action, our feeling of being lonely and disconnected is a social pain, a signal that we need to take care of ourselves by the means of companionship.
  • Loneliness, if prolonged, is also associated with heart disease, strokes and other lifestyle diseases.

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Loneliness And Mental Health

Studies show that older adults who are lonely see a decline in their thinking abilities, which is rapid if paired with other factors like physical inactivity, anxiety, poor sleep and high blood pressure.

Prolonged social isolation is a kind of mental stress leading to various mental and physical health issues like faster ageing, dementia and cognitive decline. It has also been linked to the factors that lead to Alzheimer’s disease, like a build-up of certain toxic proteins in the brain.

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Social Activities As A Form Of Self-Care

  • The negative impact of prolonged loneliness can be curbed with maintaining high-quality relationships and social activity.
  • How we manage our feelings and relationships is important for our brain’s health.
  • Self-care is an essential component of our mental and physical health, and we have to focus our attention towards better sleep and exercise routines, healthy eating and engaging in enjoyable activities.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

A public health problem

Most people consider loneliness a personal problem to be figured out by individuals. 

However, a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health identi...

Don’t blame social media

Among the theories on why there is more loneliness today is more time online and less time in front of people. 

However, levels of in-person interactions, physical and mental wellness and life balance are more likely to predict loneliness than social media usage.

Young and lonely

Generation Z (ages 18-22) had the highest loneliness scores, followed by the millennials (ages 23-37). The Greatest Generation (adults ages 72 and older) were the least lonely. 

Lonely people are less able to pick up on positive social stimuli, like others’ attention and commitment signals, so they withdraw prematurely – in many cases before they’re actually socially isolated.

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Recognize the impact of loneliness

According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can be a...

Work out exactly why you are lonely

The mental health charity Mind cites two main factors that can cause loneliness: 
  • someone either not having enough basic social contact or, 
  • despite being surrounded by people, not feeling understood, listened to or cared for. 
Working out which profile fits you best could give you a better idea of how to work through your feelings of loneliness.

Speak to someone

  • Talk to friends and family.
  • Join a club or socialize through hobbies or interests. It is a good way to meet new people and increase social interactions. 
  • Do voluntary work. It forges connections as well as makes you feel worthwhile.

Reducing Stress

Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress.

  • In an eight-week study, a meditation style called "mindfulness meditation" reduced the inflammation response caused by stres...

Controlling Anxiety

Less stress leads to less anxiety.

Regular meditation helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health issues like social anxiety, phobias and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

Promoting Emotional Health

Some types of meditation can improve depression and help you maintain these benefits.

  • Two studies of mindfulness meditation found decreased depression in over 4,600 adults.
  • One study found that participants experienced a long-term decrease in depression.