Every one feels a little lonely once in a while (loneliness). Some people even seek out time alone (solitude). But there’s a big difference between the two!
Solitude is considered an essential component of spirituality and self-growth. It’s enjoyed by certain people and can even lead to creativity and self-realization.
On the other hand, loneliness is a state of mind characterized by a feeling of emptiness or separateness. It can easily become a compulsion and be quite stressful and damaging to those who experience it.
In fact, feeling extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent!
In extreme cases, loneliness can even lead to depression, Alzheimer’s disease, stress, immune response, personality disorders, lack of sleep and chronic illness (1).
“Being alone does not essentially make a person lonely. It is the perception of being alone which makes the person lonely.”
Loneliness Weakens Your Immune System And Causes Inflammation
In a September 2013 Ted Talk entitled “The Lethality of Loneliness,” psychologist John Cacioppo explains that loneliness “is a monotonic function — the lonelier one is and the longer one is lonely, the greater the negative effects.”
A study conducted by the University of Chicago found that loneliness leads to fight-or-flight stress signaling, which can ultimately affect the production of white blood cells. This leaves you more prone to infections and diseases (2).
According to ScienceDaily,
“lonely people had a less effective immune response and more inflammation than non-lonely people.”
Loneliness not only influences our behavior but also weakens the production of white blood cells in our bodies.
How To Use Meditation To Overcome Loneliness
According to the DailyMail,
“researchers found that eight weeks of the mindfulness meditation training decreased the participants’ loneliness.”
As it turns out, this 2,500-year-old practice dating back to the time of the spiritual leader Buddha isn’t just good for your brain. It also helps improve your state of mind.
If you find regular meditation too difficult, try this guided meditation instead. The more you practice this, the better you’ll get at it and the better it will work for you.
If you know someone who may be suffering from loneliness, share this video with them. You may actually help prolong their life in the long-run!