COLORADO SPRINGS — There’s a difference between being alone and being lonely.
And it turns out the latter can have some pretty serious side effects.
“Now, more and more research is being done on the physical end, and they’re saying that it is as detrimental to our health As smoking 15 cigarettes a day, that it increases your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, heart disease. It really impacts any chronic disease out there,” said Dannie De Novo, a happiness coach.
De Novo says while it may challenging to be social with the required social distancing and self-isolation with the coronavirus pandemic, technology makes it possible.
“Just like this, there’s Facetime, there’s Zoom, there’s Skye, there are so many ways that you can video chat with people. But even if you don’t have that capability and you’re just having a phone conversation, just make sure you’re having a really good conversation, that you’re connecting on a deeper level, that you’re not having sort of surface-level conversation,” said De Novo.
She adds groups are even meeting online, and recommends using your new-found downtime as a time to find a new hobby you can do from home.
“Biologically speaking, we are a social species and when you take away that social element, it’s only a matter of them before things are going to start to show up as disease-related, right? So I really think that the mind-body connection here is really important to take into account. That if your mind and your brain aren’t working properly then your body is going to start showing effects of that as well,”
When it comes to social media, De Novo says it can give us a false sense of connection.
So, what are the signs to pay attention to that tell if you are lonely?
“If you find yourself always wishing that someone was there with you and you’re sort of down about that, then I would say put some things in place to help you come out of that. If you are with people and you’re still feeling kind of lonely, that’s kind of a sign that maybe you need a deeper level of ‘connnectingness’. If you lost touch with old friends and you feel disconnected with family and your community, that can bring about even more feelings of anxiety and sort of depression,” said De Novo.
Instead, focus on the positives in your life.
Start small, be thankful for the cup of coffee you have or the fact that your family is healthy and safe.
“This is the best time to start going internally and taking a good look at yourself and really learning to love yourself right? If you like yourself, you don’t mind spending time alone with yourself. But also, when you do like yourself, people notice that about you and they gravitate towards you more,” De Novo said.