Lonely in a crowd?

Loneliness is when you feel isolated and empty because of inadequate social relationships. A recently divorced doctor was found dead, when neighbours noticed a peculiar smell enveloping the house after several days. Obviously nobody knew or cared. Today loneliness has become an epidemic Uprooted from their place of birth people travel across countries to work. ‘The family is the giant shock absorber of society to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world,’ wrote Alvin Toffler. Large joint families are turning nuclear. People cut off from the warm blanket of joint family relationships, suffer from emotional a social isolation. You can be lonely at a party or a crowd. There is no one with whom to spend free time or discuss important matters. This is what 60 million Americans feel this way (about 20% of the population). The number of such confidantes has come down from 3 fifty years ago to one – usually a spouse.

Loneliness intensifies with modernization: greater immigration, smaller households, media consumption. Seniors are particularly vulnerable and become stranded in the suburbs. Many have only a single confidante, a spouse. Those who are on the net a lot are lonelier. Those trying to make friends on the net are lonelier. Long commutes lead to dramatically increase feeling of loneliness. Single people are lonelics, widowers are lonely.

Chronic loneliness is a serious, life threatening condition, associated with increased risk of cancer, stroke and cardiac vascular disease. Loneliness has been linked to depression and is a risk factor for suicide. It is associated with poor sleep and plays a part in alcoholism and substance abuse.

How to improve social connections and build your network
1. Organize a social gathering to welcome a new neighbor.
2. Join a Rotary club or a similar social action group.
3. Volunteer your special skills to an NGO.
4. Start a community garden. Exchange plants and seeds.
5. Mentor someone of a different ethnic or religious group.
6. Plan a vacation with friends or family.
7. Join a Book club.
8. Sing in a choir or bhajan group.

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