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Which Side of the Coin Are You On?

By Sandy Schroeder

Actually, the question of "which side of the coin are you on" is about loneliness, which may be reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. Would you say you are happily connected with family and friends, or actually fairly lonely?

Researchers say about 43 percent of the population admits to loneliness. For teens and pre-teens this can take the form of isolation and alienation as they spend more and more time online, losing touch with friends and outside activities.

For seniors, a loss of a longtime spouse, or a change in health, can spell isolation with increasing loneliness and frequent bouts of sadness, anxiety or depression. I have seen this happen with family and neighbors. Households that brimmed with activity grow quiet as the inhabitants grieve or deal with ongoing health challenges.

For many of us in the middle, loneliness can occur when kids grow up, close friends are lost, or work patterns change. If we are lucky, we keep our balance and keep moving.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy maintains that loneliness is more dangerous than smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It increases the risk for heart trouble, dementia and anxiety and depression.

The Other Side of the Coin

If you are lucky, you are on the positive side of the coin, where happiness and well-being flourish. Using the UCLA Loneliness Scale, Cigna Health discovered people who live with others, get sufficient sleep, exercise, stay involved in work and connected to friends and family score the best.

Studies of couples involved in close relationships, especially romantic ones, often benefit from positive health outcomes too, according to Psychophysiology.

Make Sure You Are There

  • Turn off your computer or the TV and find out who is out there
  • Call an old friend or make new friends in local groups
  • Fix a great supper and invite friends over
  • Join a theatre, music, photography or walking club, whatever fits
  • Volunteer at the library, local hospital or animal or marine shelters
  • Take a community class in arts, fitness, cooking or other special interests

Reach Out to Help Others

  • Keep an eye out for lonely people
  • Look around your neighborhood or community to spot seniors who may never have visitors or get out
  • Keep an eye on the teens in your family, or in your neighborhood or community, who may be camping out online
  • Stay in touch with relatives near or faraway who may be experiencing loneliness

Loneliness can be a real struggle. If you're not struggling, be aware of others who might be.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, N.C.

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