Happiness is a skill- I call it Happinizing. In this blog I will provide you with the information that is necessary for you to be a successful happinizer. Happinize on!
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Maybe Isolation, Not Loneliness, Shortens Life (Source: NPR)
This article emphasizes the importance of the S factor in "SPY"- which stands for foster and maintain social networks. Do you make a concerted effort to maintain and foster your social relationships (whether it be with family, friends, co-workers, significant other, etc)?
People who are socially isolated may be at a
greater risk of dying sooner, a British study suggests. But do Facebook
friends count? How about texting?
Loneliness hurts, but social isolation can kill you. That's the conclusion of a study of more than 6,500 people in the U.K.
by a team at University College London, comes after decades of research
showing that both loneliness and infrequent contact with friends and
family can, independently, shorten a person's life. The scientists
expected to find that the combination of these two risk factors would be
"We were thinking that people who were socially isolated but also felt lonely might be at particularly high risk," says Andrew Steptoe, a professor of psychology at University College London.
find out, the team studied 6,500 men and women ages 52 and older. All
of them had answered a questionnaire back in 2004 or 2005 that assessed
both their sense of loneliness and how much contact they had with
friends and family. The researchers looked to see what happened to those
people over the next seven or eight years.
And Steptoe says he was surprised by the result. "Both social
isolation and loneliness appeared initially to be associated with a
greater risk of dying," he says. "But it was really the isolation which
was more important."
At first, it looked like people who
reported greater levels of loneliness were more likely to die, Steptoe
says. But closer analysis showed that these people were also more likely
to have other risk factors, like being poor and having existing health
problems. Once those factors were taken into account, the extra risk
associated with loneliness pretty much disappeared, Steptoe says.
people who spent very little time with friends and family, or at social
events, were more likely to die regardless of income or health status,
the team reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
not clear why social isolation is linked to mortality. But one
possibility is that having other people around has practical benefits as
you get older, Steptoe says. For example, they may push you to go see a
doctor if you are having symptoms like chest pain, he says. And if you
were to lose consciousness, they would call for help.
researchers say they are surprised and not necessarily convinced by the
new study, even though they say it's large and well-done.
"It doesn't negate the loneliness work that's been done to date," says Bert Uchino,
a University of Utah psychology professor. He says this study may have
reached a different conclusion than earlier ones because people's
definition of loneliness is changing in the Internet age.
... may think that they're connected to other people because they're on
Facebook," Uchino says. So they may not report feeling lonely. But that
sort of connection, he says, may not have the health benefits of direct
contact with other people.
The different result might be
because this study looked at people in the U.K., while many earlier
studies looked at people in the U.S., says University of Chicago
psychologist John Cacioppo.
So in the U.K., where the culture values a "stiff upper lip," people
who live alone may be "less likely to admit to feeling lonely than are
residents of the U.S.," he says.
Whether or not loneliness raises the risk of dying, Cacioppo adds, it certainly reduces a person's quality of life.
it's easy for people to do things that alleviate both isolation and
loneliness, Uchino says. "Have lunch with somebody," he says. "Take a
walk. Give them a phone call. I think those are all important ways that
we need to stay connected with our relationships. And I think, in the
long term, it can help us."