Treat Loneliness, Recommendation #7 of 31 for Optimizing Health and Extending Lifespan.
Did you know that 45% of U.S. adults report feeling lonely?
Not only does loneliness take a psychological toll, researchers are discovering that loneliness effects our physical health as well. People who are lonely have a 26% increased risk of premature death, according to a recent large systematic review.
There are two ways we become lonely. The first is short term and due to circumstances that are not expected to last. Many people have become lonely during shelter-in-place, for example. The second pathway whereby wee become lonely is referred to as the “loneliness regulatory loop.” Basically we over-estimate the chance of being rejected, so we avoid trying to connect with others.
The effect of loneliness on physical health is thought to be due to weakened self-control. It’s hard to stick to a diet, or exercise, or do other activities for your health that require willpower, when you are preoccupied with the threat of rejection and the feelings of loneliness. Loneliness is also thought to effect health by diminishing sleep quality, and by stimulating the fight-or-flight stress response.
In this course, Dr. Nicholas Cohen, MD, a primary care physician in San Francisco, provides a comprehensive plan to help you overcome loneliness. You’ll learn about the causes of loneliness, and he’ll share with you effective strategies that have worked for thousands of his patients.
The course begins with the definition and prevalence of loneliness. Next, Dr. Cohen shows the evidence for the health impact of loneliness, how being lonely chronically shortens lifespan. In the next section, he’ll describe the main factors that lead to loneliness. This will be followed by an overview of the impact of loneliness on health. Dr. Cohen will then share with you tips for overcoming loneliness. These are tips he follows himself to maintain his own psychological health. These recommendations promote health, and are a comprehensive strategy to living healthier, not just being free from loneliness in the short term. Finally, Dr. Cohen will answer some frequently asked questions, and conclude with a summary of the information covered.