I am always fascinated by research…particularly genetic research after discovering all the things I inherited that I choose to overcome. One of the things that I read while researching the feeling of being alone was this.
A 2007 study published in the journal Genome Biology found loneliness could be in our genes. The team of researchers discovered a distinct pattern of gene expression in immune cells in participants who suffered from chronic loneliness. These feelings of solitude were associated with changes in gene expression that drive inflammation — known as one of the first responses of the immune system.
Hold up. This can drive inflammation? Well what if you prefer solitude and don’t necessarily feel lonely? What then? Because I do have autoimmune and inflammation is the last thing I need. So let me ponder this out with you guys.
I have long thought that social media today makes some young people feel alone and like an outcast. Why? Because I have seen it happen in my own household. My youngest daughter was not invited to an outing where every single person she knew appeared to be there. All the photos. Inside I was livid. All the people she sat with were there…what game were these girls playing because believe me, I didn’t raise anyone to play these games. So how do I go about teaching the difference between being alone and being lonely? Enjoying solitude, yet feeling at peace and not excluded?
Now let’s look at the elderly. They don’t have social media and can feel alone as well; however, they pick up the phone and call people. They have found strong mental habits like thinking of their loved ones who might have passed on with fond memories knowing they lived a great life together. They make church dates, and meetings, and try to get out and keep up their old habits.
Between the generations it is sad to say that we are losing some of the things that make us mentally strong and foster these slight difference in being alone and being okay with it, and feeling isolated and cut off, which is not the same.
So how can we go about creating new patterns that make us feel less alone?
- List the top 3 people who you have not talked to in a while, but would like to. Do you have their actual phone number OR could you Skype with them? No texting. Make it a face-to-face meeting or a phone call.
- List 3 hobbies you could do OUTSIDE of your house where you might meet people of like minds. No computer stuff unless you are going to look for a Meet Up near you. In this day and age it is important to get out.
- Write a letter to a pen pal. Yup. I am way old school, but this was fun back in the day. You never knew when you might get a letter. I remember giving my friend in Australia my address and getting a card. I later sent her a package of some sort. It was pretty cool to me. Now, I don’t know much about this site, but here you go. And no this is not a hook-up as far as I can tell…but always be careful.
What would you do if you were lonely?
- You might decide it’s too much trouble talking to anyone in the “real world” and play video games or watch T.V. without actually making new real life friends. <<< Instead, grab your journal and write about the qualities a supportive friend might have.
- You might decide to drink alcohol…alone. <<< Instead make a green smoothie, a cup of tea, or a fruit water and look online at your local gym memberships. You can always just walk the treadmill, but you are getting out.
- Get invited to things, but never actually leave the house. <<< Be careful here. There is a difference in resting and deciding that you are always too tired to go out. I have been there so I feel like I can say that to you. I make it a point to tell my group of friends that I want to get together monthly.
In the end, what I have found while working with my group coaching members is that action actually makes us feel better! Write this down. If you would like to meet some new friends online in a safe environment, I invite you to join us in the Head|Heart|Health Club. We work our way through our thoughts and how to control them, through our hearts and how to foster worthiness and love, and through our overall health and wellness thus creating a more meaningful and fulfilling life no matter where we are in the world. This is right for you if you are ready to move forward from stuck to unstuck and from indecision to clarity. Speak to you soon! ~Aimee