lonely woman

Overcoming Loneliness

Feeling lonely can be unpleasant, but did you know that it can also reduce your lifespan? According to some reports, loneliness can shorten your life as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Some studies have also shown that being lonely is worse for your health than being obese, and can raise your risk for early death by about 30 percent. Luckily, researchers have also been able to shed light on ways that people overcome feelings of loneliness.

But before we get to how to combat loneliness, you might be wondering how it can have such a significant effect on your health. Well, there are a couple of theories. 

The Behavioral Theory

Some researchers have said that it could be related to behavioral changes. This theory says that as people feel more lonely, they are more likely to neglect their healthy habits and adopt more risky behaviors like drug abuse.

The Immune System Theory

A more popular theory is that loneliness causes stress in the body that weakens the immune system. This is because we are social animals. We evolved to live with others. When you’re around other people, it provides safety and security, so your body relaxes.

But when you’re feeling alone and lacking the safety of other people, your body goes on defence. Subconsciously, you become more aware of possible threats around you. It triggers a stress response so you’re ready to deal with danger. 

This stress response causes a release of hormones, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and other changes. Over time, these changes can take a toll on the body and its immune function, increasing the risk for a range of health conditions.

Dealing With Loneliness

Research has shown that feelings of loneliness don’t always match the level of social interaction. There are some people who have active social lives but still feel lonely, and others who don’t see anyone often but don’t feel lonely at all.

This means that loneliness can be more about a person’s state of mind then their social circumstances. 

In addition, a recent study of older adults living in a senior housing community highlighted some characteristics of people who overcome feelings of loneliness. Those characteristics included acceptance of ageing and good social skills for making new friends.

It also found that compassion was one factor that helped with overcoming loneliness. The study participants who focused on helping others were better at dealing with their own feelings of loneliness. 

Mind and Body

There are many ways your mental state affects your overall health. Loneliness is just one example. 

So dealing with mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression can not only improve your quality of life, it can help you live longer. If you think you are experiencing any of these conditions, you should talk to your doctor, as there are many options for mental health support and treatment.

brian-patrick-tagalog-oLJSa1fUHTE-unsplash (1)

Drinking tea may help fight depression

Recent research suggests that older adults who drink tea tend to live longer and are less likely to be depressed. These findings come from several separate studies, and add to the long list of health benefits that may come from drinking tea.

Tea and Depression

Researchers in China recently published a study that showed a strong connection between drinking tea regularly and lower rates of depression.

There have been some previous studies that suggested this connection exists. However,  researchers weren’t sure if the benefits come from the tea itself or from the increased social interaction that’s often involved with drinking tea. 

But even when accounting for social engagement and other health factors, this recent study found the connection between tea drinking and lower rates of depression was  “virtually universal”. So, researchers suspect that some property of tea is able to help the brain stay healthy.

The study’s authors said it appears that drinking tea is most beneficial during the early stages of health deterioration. They also found that the benefits were most significant for consistent tea drinkers (who drank tea almost every day since age 60). 

Green Tea and Life Expectancy

Another study tracked 100,000 Chinese adults and found those who drank green tea at least three times a week were less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke

It also showed that green tea drinkers tend to live slightly longer than those who don’t drink tea regularly. This study builds on previous research that has suggested that green tea can lower your risk for heart disease and certain cancers.  

The Many Benefits of Tea

Green tea has high levels of a powerful antioxidant called EGCG. This antioxidant may benefit your health in many ways including reduced risk for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and liver disease.

But black tea also offers its own benefits. Some include protecting your cells from damage by free radicals, reducing the risk of plaque in blood vessels, and it may be useful in obesity management by promoting the breakdown of fat.

And no matter what type you choose, there’s evidence that the health benefits of tea can include:

  • Reduction of bad cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved cognitive ability
  • Improved mood

So consider pouring yourself a cup, and have a drink to your health!