The UK began a campaign to combat obesity, heart disease, and depression in 2011. This campaign was not centralized around medication, physical activity or any other individualistic endeavor. UK’s Campaign to End Loneliness is one battling what many health professionals believe to be one of the largest health concerns of the modern world.
Not convinced? Here are some results from research posted on the campaigns website:
- Loneliness likely increases your risk of death by 29% (Holt-Lunstad, 2015)
- Lonely people are more likely to suffer from dementia, heart disease and depression (Valtorta et al, 2016)
- Loneliness is worse for you than obesity (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
- Loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2010)
This is not just a problem in the UK. In January, during a show on NPR, former U.S. surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, also mentioned loneliness being a deadly epidemic. Why? Because it puts us in a state of stress. Stress leads to higher inflammation, which leads to disease. The silver lining is that loneliness is a solvable by putting down phones and engaging with those around us. Meaningful face-to-face time with someone has significant importance to our overall health- even if it’s as little as 5 minutes.
How does this impact your marriage? A few different ways.
Spouses with a secure emotional connection need to engage in meaningful friendships outside of their relationship. I know there’s a romantic notion that your spouse is supposed to fulfill all of your emotional needs, but they can’t. Placing all your needs on one person is a burden they were never meant to carry. It can put unneeded stress on your relationship.
The other way loneliness may impact your marriage may sound peculiar. This is when one spouse feels lonely within the relationship. This kind of loneliness is less about isolation and more about emotional connection. This can happen a lot of ways: work schedules, lack of intentionality, smart phones, infidelity, perpetual conflicts, etc.
A healthy sense of autonomy is good. We should take responsibility for our own happiness, but what we’re learning from research is we ultimately need meaningful connection with others to live life to the fullest.
For appointments with any of our Marriage and Family Therapists at Amy Wine Counseling Center, call us at 832-421-8714 or email us here.