Saturday, November 17, 2007

Loneliness is a Toxin for Your Mind and Body Health.

“The person who tries to live alone will not succeed as a human being. His heart
withers if it does not answer another heart. His mind shrinks away if he hears
only the echoes of his own thoughts and finds no other inspiration.”
Pearl S. Buck

We were not created to be lonely. We thrive better on social contacts with friends and groups with whom we can have social intercourse. Many people in more traditional societies like Asia and Africa with meager resources are happier because of the social cobweb they weave around themselves. This cobweb serves as a safety net for these people in times of need and even in their day to day transactions where many battering goes on.

It appears that as far back as 1858, the demographer, William Farr observed this important phenomenon. He wrote that widows and widowers were at higher risk of dying than their married peers. Further studies have showed that marriage can add as much as seven years to a man’s life and 2 years to a woman’s. Of course the marriage has to be a healthy and happy one or else it will cause more stress and cause illness.

A study at the University of Chicago found that a married older man with heart disease can expect to live nearly four years longer than an unmarried man with a healthy heart. Likewise, a married man who smokes more than a pack a day may live as long as a divorced man who does not smoke.

It appears that social interactions can boost the growth of the brain cells and immune system resulting in good health. In supportive relationships, people can handle stress better. Thus if you aim to live a longer life you should aim for a life partner, children and meaningful supportive relationships.

It also appears that church going, with its social networks, helps to boost your longevity. Hence to live a long life, you should have a family life and maintain a healthy relationship with your spouse, your children, friends and church members. This looks like a simple mind and body health prescription that can keep you healthy and give you a meaningful life.


Taylor at Choices said...

Enjoyed your blog. I believe that without interaction with others your mind will also not stay clear. It needs the interaction just as any part of the body needs to be stimulated. If not, than we lose the full use of it.
Janet Taylor

Manny Essel, MD,MBA said...

Thanks for your comment. You're right about the stimulant effect of social interaction. Imagine the surge of energy you get in the presence of loving friends and family members? We were not created to be alone. Hence we thrive on relationships.