By Eunice K. Neubauer, CSA
It’s been known for years that loneliness harms your health. Persistent loneliness is being linked to a growing list of health problems, including insomnia, cardiovascular disease, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.New research has proven that feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent, according to research by John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago.
While it’s easy to assume that anyone who is struggling with loneliness would know that he/she is lonely, that’s often not the case. For many people, that extreme sense of social disconnection, the feeling that no one really knows you and what your life is like—is so familiar and constant that they don’t even realize that they’re lonely.
So how do you overcome loneliness? Think of relationships you have in your life. Research by Cacioppo and his colleagues has identified three core dimensions to healthy relationships:
- – Intimate connectedness, which comes from having someone in your life you feel affirms who you are;
- – Relational connectedness, which comes from having face-to-face contacts that are mutually rewarding; and
- – Collective connectedness, which comes from feeling that you’re part of a group or collective beyond individual existence.