Q&A: What does isolation and loneliness do to our physical and mental health?
Q: What does isolation and loneliness do to our physical and mental health?
A: More research is confirming that physical isolation and emotional aloneness can contribute to premature death at the same rate as sedentarism and obesity. Both of which have been proven to cause a 30% increase in premature death. Eliminating social interaction entirely dramatically heightens one of our greatest fears—dying alone. This constant fear—which underpins many of the feelings, thoughts, choices, behaviors, and habits in our life—spikes anxiety and cortisol. With these hormones are chronically elevated, it decreases immune function, deteriorates sleep quality, drives emotional food cravings, and increases the incidence of depression. Consequently, say during a pandemic that mandates isolation and restricts social gatherings, a lot of news is turned to mental health.
However, it’s equally possible to turn isolation and aloneness into an opportunity for growth.
Although we are wired for relationships via our social and emotional limbic brain to mitigate the fear of dying alone, we also have a need for ‘me time’. Whether we take this alone-time to meditate, take a walk, or commune with nature, this time affords us the opportunity to build a deep relationship with ourselves. In fact, we all probably know of individuals who happily live alone, and go on to live long lives. Why? They exhibit many lifestyle traits of a positive mental attitude. Attitudes like gratitude, self-confidence based on self-appreciation, savoring life’s little pleasures, connecting to ‘flow’, and going for joy over happiness. We will share more of these traits when we discuss positive psychology and it’s findings for mental and emotional health in our next Health Talk Happy Hour.
If we invest in alone-time to notice thoughts and feelings that arise in relation to being isolated or feeling alone, we can learn a lot about ourselves. Instead, we can choose to become curious about the ways we all avoid discomfort and our deepest existential fears. Notice these hardwired habits of desire, craving, compulsion, and even addiction are tied to avoiding these uncomfortable feelings. Through compassionate (non-judgmental) self-observation, we can be curious about what is underneath our feelings and actions. This mindful self-awareness expands our sense of self and gives us the freedom to make different choices. So when we make choices that are aligned with our core values, we build a positive mental attitude that ultimately supports longevity.
What is Mountain Trek?
Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out below: