In this age of connection, researchers have discovered a surprising rise in people suffering debilitating loneliness – but there is hope.
Fortune describes chronic loneliness as a “modern-day epidemic.”
John Cacioppo, the director of the University of Chicago’s Center for Congitive and Social Neuroscience, has been studying loneliness over two decades
Cacioppo explained loneliness, in small doses, can help people understand how to read social cues and better react in social situations. Unsurprisingly, he found long-term loneliness is dangerous.
The Bible tells us in Mark 1:35 it is important to be alone to pray and spend time with God but Genesis 2:18 says, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not right that the man should be alone…'”
So what about people who feel alone too often?
The New York Times reported a link between loneliness and physical illnesses as well as functional and mental decline.
In fact, loneliness leads to many complications, such as high blood pressure, increased levels of stress hormones, and a higher death rate than obesity.
To combat the perils of loneliness, one group created a Campaign to End Loneliness.
The campaign was launched in 2011 and is governed by five organizations that work with over 2,500 supporters who specifically target the lonely elderly.
Meanwhile, The Silver Line offers a 24-hour helpline for older people in need of a friend.
Sophie Andrews, The Silver Line Chief Executive, shared, “We need to raise awareness with the people who are the hardest to reach.”
For a younger crowd, population-based studies revealed how stubborn loneliness can be. Teaching people how to interact socially does little to help and most misinterpret the causes of loneliness.
Cacioppo stated: “Denying you feel lonely makes no more sense than denying you feel hunger,” adding the word “lonely” should not carry the negative connotations it does.
Rather than further isolating the lonely, Cacioppo believes we should encourage and help them.
If you struggle with loneliness, first recall the Lord our God is always with us. Next, talk to someone – whether it is a therapist, friend, family member, romantic partner or member of the Church, take the first step to living a happier, healthier life.