Loneliness harms blood pressure

Like happiness, loneliness is contagious

In my book, the 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People, one of the ten essentials of health I write about is “avoiding loneliness like the plague.” I say, “Avoiding loneliness and pursuing healthy relationships can increase the likelihood of your becoming a highly healthy person … The absence of loneliness, the fostering of socialization and positive rela- tionships, and the development of constructive and graceful communication styles can increase not only the likelihood that you will be highly healthy but that those around you will be healthy as well.”

There are a number of reasons this is true — not the least of which is the association of loneliness with worsening cardiovascular health outcomes. Commenting on the newest research showing this is the Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog which is reporting that loneliness may “affect blood pressure,” according to a study appearing in the March issue of Psychology and Aging.

“Researchers surveyed 229 people ages 50 to 68 who were part of the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study, a longitudinal study of white, black and Latino men and women.” After five years, “researchers noted an association between feelings of loneliness and high blood pressure. People who ranked as feeling most lonely had blood pressure levels 14.4 points higher than those who felt least lonely.”

If you are an angry or hostile person, you can drive people away and increase your personal loneliness. If you are cynical or depressed, you’ll be inclined to withdraw from others and increase your personal loneliness. If you have uncaring relationships or refuse to socialize with others, you may suffer dire health consequences.

If any of this is true for you, I assure you that there is hope. To begin on the journey to becoming a highly healthy and happy person, consider ordering my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People. Find the chapter on “Avoiding Loneliness Like the Plague” and begin to fill some of this chapter’s prescriptions for building stronger and healthier relationships. As you do, you will, in turn, avoid loneliness like the life-threatening plague it is.

You can read the Table of the Contents of the book here, and read the first chapter here. Also, the Los Altos United Methodist Church developed a Small Group Study Guide for the book that you can download free here.

Here are some of my other blogs on loneliness:

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