And yes, this goes for the anti-socials too. Think about it, you might dread talking to your parents about your day or hate talking to strangers in the street. However, you are still comforted by the fact that if you need help, you can turn to someone for comfort and company. It’s comforting to know that you can bitch about how annoying people are with another anti-social companion.
The research was presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a psychologist at Brigham Young University said in a statement that, “being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need—crucial to both well-being and survival.”
The psychologist gives extreme examples of isolation which show how detrimental it can be to humans. “Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die.” Moreover, “social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment."
Mental Floss reports how a 2010 AARP study showed that one-third of adults aged over 45 admitted to feeling lonely. Moreover, the study also showed that “loneliness and poor health went hand in hand.” This connection was further investigated in the new study by Holt-Lunstad.
Holt-Lunstad sought to “quantify the impact of loneliness and isolation.” Accordingly, she conducted two separate meta-analyses of the scientific literature, reviewing a total of 218 studies. Her first analysis found that higher social connectedness is linked to as much as a 50 percent decrease in risk of early death.”
There was a second analysis. In this one, “data from more than 3.4 million people in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia” was used. The data suggested that “social isolation, loneliness, and living alone can be as bad for a person's health as other common risks. (The AARP study also concluded that prolonged isolation carries the same health risks as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.)”
Holt-Lunstad explained the correlation between isolation and early death. She said how “there is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.” And things could get worse.
“With an increasing aging population, the effect on public health is only anticipated to increase. Indeed, many nations around the world now suggest we are facing a 'loneliness epidemic.' The challenge we face now is what can be done about it.”
You can also beat loneliness by helping others. Look at it this way, you may be feeling lonely but there are others out there who have it worse than you. Go volunteer. Keep someone company — someone who’s sick or too old to go out. Make it about them, not about you. It’s an amazing way to beat isolation.