Loneliness and Isolation

Loneliness and Isolation.

Loneliness and isolation can be linked to chronic illnesses like, depression, poor cardiovascular function, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, impaired immunity and premature death (Stevens, Jacobs, Gapstur, 2019 and Hawkley & Capitanio, 2015). 

In the ever-changing world filled with social media, texting, computers, devices, on demand, television, news, fake news, alerts, information pushes, and constant stimulation it is difficult to re-connect with ourselves and others, even though we are in contact with others throughout our day.  And when we link the potential negative impact loneliness and isolation can have on our health, we may consider steps to ensure we are in are mitigating our risk.

How can we consciously remember our need to be connected and support that need?  How do we move from surface connection to deep connection to uproot loneliness and isolation?

Here are 5 tips to consider to begin to re-connect to self and to others and will help mitigate or prevent diseases of the brain and body.

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1.       Make Eye Contact.

Making eye contact equals feelings of inclusion, while avoiding eye contact equals feelings of exclusion.  This seems obvious.  But have you thought about it?  Have you experienced being looked through as if you are “being looked at as though air”?  The German expression, “wie Luft behandeln”, literally means this, and a university subjected people to being looked at as though air and discovered they reported participants felt disconnected to others.

If you’ve felt the power of eye contact, you’ve likely felt feelings of connection, or understood, recognized and validated.  The human eye is the most visible of all primates, with the sclera being white and the iris being colored.  The cooperative hypothesis notes the distinctive highlighting of the human eye helps us follow another’s gaze when communicating or cooperating with each other.

2.       Be Present.

It’s so easy to keep thinking ahead: about what you should say next, what you have to do, timelines, deadlines, whether the person is right or wrong, etc. etc. 

But what might happen if you just listened, and held patient (and graceful) space for a fellow human to express themselves?  What could happen if you chose to withhold offering opinion, advice or needless chatter?  What might happen if you fully listened, heard and saw the person alongside you? Perhaps it would open up deeper communication and connection.

3.       Be Honest.

Be truthful, honest, forthright and do it with integrity, out of love and respect.  Be sincere with yourself, be candid when responding and be authentic to you and your needs.

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4.       Respect Others Challenges

Every human is faced with distinct challenges and differences. Honoring these things can make a more harmonious world and improve connections with each other.  Some challenges are emotional, financial, social, environmental, physical, self-confidence, knowledge and more.

For example, when someone flips you off after you make a driving error, you are faced with the challenge of not reacting to their challenge of witnessing you make an error- even if you think you weren’t in the wrong. 

 5.       Become an Active Group Member

Find a group you’d like to be part of to gain instant interaction.  If you’ve got a hobby, there are groups likely to support that hobby, and if there are not, create one- you’ll be surprised by who comes out to attend.  Join a group fitness class, or a local continuous education class, volunteer your time to deliver meals to the elderly, or at your local thrift shop, become involved in your church, join a Healing Circle, set up a game night. 

What other ideas do you have that will help you reconnect to others and yourself?

We have plenty of tools, ideas and tips to keep you feeling your best and to prevent illnesses like dementia, heart disease, diabetes and we strive to create community on Camano Island, WA.

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Nicole Vienneau MSN, RN, NC-BC has been a registered nurse for 20+ years, is a board-certified integrative nurse coach, personal trainer, group fitness and yoga instructor, faculty with the International Nurse Coach Association and founder of Blue Monarch Health, PLLC. She specializes in the prevention of brain and heart disease by partnering with clients to uncover their wisdom and enhance their health. Nicole is a passionate Nurse advocate who is transforming healthcare through nurse coaching. She loves exploring nature, finding solace with her cats and traveling with her awesome husband.