(AscendHealthy)- Online shopping, automated scheduling, and self-checkouts make it easy to avoid social interaction. You may have heard loved ones make statements like, “I love self-checkout because I don’t have to talk to anyone,” or perhaps you’ve made similar comments yourself. You may even find yourself declining party invitations or only checking mail when all of your neighbors are inside. Unfortunately, these actions can create issues later in life — and may even lead to an early death.
Are You at Risk for Loneliness?
Think about how you spend a typical day. Do you meet up with friends or family for breakfast before heading to the office, or do you have pizza delivered while you telecommute? Do you chat with cashiers at the grocery store, or do you head straight to the self-checkout lanes? When was the last time you actually talked to your neighbors?
Adults who spend the majority of their time at home may find it difficult to connect with friends or family members. Even if you leave the house throughout the day, you may notice that you have very few — if any — interactions with others. Over time, this lack of social interaction may lead to loneliness, a condition that affects 1 out of 3 Americans.
What Are the Dangers of Avoiding Social Interaction?
Skipping the occasional barbecue or birthday party isn’t cause for concern, nor is a preference for paying bills online. However, repeatedly isolating yourself from others may trigger symptoms of depression and even shorten your lifespan. In fact, loneliness increases your risk of death by 26% and is just as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. It can also raise your blood pressure and lead to issues from cardiovascular disease.
Unfortunately, the potential health risks don’t end there. Loneliness can also increase your risk of developing dementia, and lonely individuals are more likely to need medication than other adults. You may also require help from an assisted living facility, such as a nursing home, earlier than adults who don’t battle chronic loneliness.
How Can You Prevent Loneliness?
Loneliness often strikes when adults spend too much time alone, but it’s easy to incorporate more social interaction in your life. Try eating at your favorite restaurant instead of ordering delivery, or ask friends to meet you for coffee or tea. If you don’t have local friends, try joining a senior center or registering for classes at the local library. You can also find friends in a religious group, such as Bible study at a nearby church, or introduce yourself to neighbors.
If you don’t drive or have access to public transportation, try video chatting with friends or inviting family members over for dinner. You can also invite neighbors over for a game of cards or host a movie night for your street or apartment building. Call a helpline such as CONTACT for support if your loneliness gets worse, and let your doctor know how you’re feeling. You deserve a life filled with love and laughter, and you can connect with others by making simple changes to your routine.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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