Loneliness: We Were Born to Connect

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Are you feeling lonely these days? You’re not alone (pun not intended, but it fits).

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The truth is, we’re meant to connect: it’s a basic human need.

Our brains produce oxytocin in response to connection, and it can help us stay well

Oxytocin is powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain (Psychology Today: Click for Quote)

and is a calming and connection hormone (Dean Ware: Click for Quote), which counteracts the effects of stress and adrenaline.

Listen to Kory Krogan talk about the importance of well-being & connection:

When I was super ill, I was the most isolated.  I struggled to get well, because I wasn’t getting the level of support and connection I needed to thrive.*

I tried changing my diet, my environment, using supplements, practicing yoga, practicing self-care, etc.

While these tactics were helpful, and I did make improvements – and I still use these tactics today to maintain well-being – what I needed the most was the power of LOVE.

*Note: many things contributed to me being well.  It was a holistic approach. 

Listen to this interview for more details:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thewellnesscoach/2017/01/25/understanding-the-link-between-mind-body-chronic-illness-with-shannon-harvey

There is a quote in coaching that says:

Connection is the currency of wellbeing – ~John Travis

It’s connection that helps us stay well the most, I believe. 

We are wired to connect.  It is primal and it known as social well-being.

 

Social well-being is the missing ingredient in holistic and wellness practices & protocols

 

Oxytocin is known as the “bliss hormone.”  It has trememdous power to alter our physical makeup and create trust in our bodies and relationships.

You can read more about my journey here and how I healed http://portlandwellnesscoach.com/do-you-have-health-issues-a-chronic-condition-or-chronic-fatigue/

I wrote a whole book about how I healed too, which took me 10 years to write.

You can find it here:  The Memory of Health

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Sometimes, situtations may prevent us from producing oxytocin.  I have been here with PTSD.  However, there is always hope, and this is even more of a reason to seek healthy connections.

“Those with PTSD are in a constant state of anxiety and low-grade fear.”

From the Body Ecology Website (click here for full article)

 

What if you live alone or find yourself isolated?

Get a pet and hug your pets regularly to produce oxytocin.   If you suffer from a trauma (separate blog  post coming up on how to heal from trauma) or a chronic condition, or find yourself in some kind of other isolating situation, try to get a pet or pets a.s.a.p.  In addition, try to find ways to genuinely connect with people:

  • Skype
  • Volunteering (if not homebound)
  • Having friends come over
  • Meeting friends for tea
  • Doing something social: game night, ballroom dancing, etc.

 

From Experts Around the Web:

Oxytocin | Psychology Today

“Oxytocin is a powerful hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. … When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels increase; hence, oxytocin is often called “the love hormone.” In fact, the hormone plays a huge role in all pair bonding.”

 

From the Body Ecology Website (click here for full article)

“Unfortunately, there are situations in life when oxytocin levels dip too low, or worse, never rise to the surface.

Some examples are:

1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Those with PTSD are in a constant state of anxiety and low-grade fear. This anxiety can climax when startled or in trigger situations. It has been found that oxytocin reduces background anxiety in those with PTSD. (1) Even though oxytocin can reduce anxiety after trauma, it does not affect the actual memory of the trauma.

2. Childhood Trauma. Trauma during infancy or childhood can affect oxytocin levels for years, decades, or even an entire lifetime. This kind of trauma can range from severe abuse during childhood to a divorce between parents. When trauma during childhood occurs, the body and mind engage an adaptive defense mechanism that reduces levels of oxytocin. This type of programming is a survival mechanism. It can affect relationships and even physical health.

3. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In certain cases of autism, the receptor site for oxytocin is genetically not available. When oxytocin has nowhere to go, it cannot do its job. Sometimes in those with ASD, the production of oxytocin is also drastically low. (2)(3)

Dr. Michael Gershon, author of The Second Brain and chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University, has found that many of his patients who come in for chronic gut disorders have a history of childhood trauma.”

 

Childhood trauma may affect gut health, the development of chronic conditions later in life, and may be a contributing factor in addiction*

 

Loneliness as New Epidemic

According to research done by the Journal Heart, loneliness has the same risks now as smoking (as cited by Harvard Health):

The data showed that loneliness, social isolation, or both were associated with a 29% increased risk of heart attack and 32% greater risk of stroke. The risk was similar to that of light smoking or obesity, according to the researchers.”  https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/loneliness-has-same-risk-as-smoking-for-heart-disease Jun 16, 2016

 

Loneliness has the same risks now as smoking; it is considered a new epidemic

 

Loneliness and the Gig Economy

Creating one’s one income is always a good idea.  We should be striving for 7 sources of income and thinking more along the lines of being our own boss, instead of being an employee.

Yet, with the new freedom that comes with working more for or completely for one’s self is the challenge of not staying connected to people (i.e. working from a home office, or working a job with little to no human interaction).  Connection is vital for productivity, stress, reduction, and well-being!

 

Connection is vital for productivity, stress, reduction, and well-being!

 

Watch the video above for how to cope with loneliness in the workplace.  There is no substitution for human interaction.  If you work for yourself, consider having Skype calls with colleagues to stay in touch and stay in the loop.  Also, make sure your business is tied into where you live locally.   Seek clients locally, or find a way to participate in your local community as a mentor, volunteer, etc.

 

It’s that important to your well-being.

 

Loneliness and Addiction

Loneliness may be tied to addiction* to, in certain regards.  Addiction creates isolation, and I truly believe that many people who are addicted suffer from not feeling truly attached to life or other people (note, I am not saying there may not be a physical component as well – please seek the help of a qualified expert).

*There is evidence of a link between childhood trauma and addiction: check out this blog:

Childhood Trauma & Addiction

Listen to Russell Brand here talk about addiction and unity & how you can’t purchase the feeling of well-being (hint: it comes from connection):