Loneliness is a killer: how loneliness affects our physical and mental health

The singer Seal once sang loneliness as the killer. In this blog, we discussed just how detrimental loneliness can be to us as human beings.

In the UK to date, there are approximately 800,000 people living on their own. Their isolation may be by design, necessity, or loss of a loved one through bereavement, or the breakup of a relationship. In addition unseen factors such as a shifting workforce, and working from home which has become more prevalent in the UK today. All of which can be contributing factors to people feeling more isolated and lonely.

Certainly, loneliness is on the increase within society.   In parallel with these facts and figures, how does loneliness affect  human beings? In a recent article, in New Scientist magazine written by journalist Moya Sharner. Sharner,  talks about the effects of loneliness. Firstly, how loneliness changes the neural network within the brain. A particularly interesting point raised in the article is research carried out by Dr John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago suggesting  that the human psyche is wired to be gregarious and isolation and loneliness is contrary  to our human nature.

Dr Cacioppo’s research suggests that loneliness changes the way that we interact with others; effectively, causing us to become more isolated. Not only are the effects of loneliness neurological there are also physiological effects. Researchers discovered, that, loneliness, if left to continue, can have a social psychological effect on society and be as detrimental to public health as smoking or obesity. Prof Stephen Cole of the University of California, Los Angeles studied the effects of environment on our genes effectively what Dr Coles discovered was that loneliness “can be the most environmentally damaging condition we as human beings can encounter.”(Sharner, 2017)

 

An interesting fact to emerge from Dr Cacioppo’s research is that loneliness is more of a subjective experience, rather than being on your own. Loneliness has little to do with having few friends or no friends or being socially isolated; loneliness is more the felt sense. Dr Cacioppo will have a sense of feeling less than the people around him, beings surrounded by people has nothing to do with the feeling of loneliness.

It has been known for some time, that people who are physically alone, often, have bad health but Cacioppo team has now discovered that the feeling of being isolated can be just as detrimental to physical health.

A meta-analysis carried out using information from 150 studies uncovered that poor quality of social relationships can have the same negative effects on health as smoking, alcohol or obesity. In fact; loneliness increases early mortality rates by something like 26% according to Cacioppo’s research. Dr Cacioppo commented that “loneliness is about the same as living with chronic obesity.”(Sharner, 2017).

Cacioppo’s team was to hypothesise that one of the behaviours lonely people have is depressed willpower. Cacioppo’s team found that people are more likely to indulge in self-defeating or negative behaviour; such as, choosing a bad diet avoiding exercise; thus increasing their sense of social isolation thus all of which have drastic side-effects regarding increasing risk of mental health problems such as anxiety depression and eating disorders.

Another point raised by joint research carried out by both Coles and Cacioppo’s team’s was that of how loneliness affects the immune system. The research pointed to an increase in information within people who are disenfranchised and lonely.; Inflammation has been linked to cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

 

In subsequent blogs we will be looking at the effects of loneliness and how social media has a role to play in people’s feeling of social isolation. Look out for the next blog.

 

 

 

 

Reference

 

Sharner, M. (2017). New Scientist. [Well-being]. Loneliness in the crowd (22 July 2017), 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35.

 

Removing the log-jams in your life

Eleos counselling blog_logjams_of lifeSelf examination

One of the character strengths you will often notice that successful people have is their approach to life in general. So how do you improve your approach to life? First, you need to assess where you are at this very moment. This could take some time. Depending on yourself awareness you may find this quite difficult. The trick here is to look at yourself as others see you; separating yourself from the way you feel about yourself; a difficult task indeed for some.

The goal here is not to be ultra critical of yourself, it is to have clarity about how you really are, and how others experience you, with the goal of making positive changes to the way you think.

When professional lumberjacks discover a log-jam, whenever they are trying to transport logs down a river. There will often climb the largest and tallest tree beside the river, so they can have a greater overlook of the problem and find the log which is jamming up the rest. Fundamentally, what they are looking for is the one log that is creating the jam. Once the lumberjack’s   remove the log that is Holding back the rest or the “key-log”, the rest of the logs can flow down the river. Nevertheless, an inexperienced lumberjack could spend hours, if not days trying to move logs around and not move the jam.

The point here is, you don’t have to necessarily change everything about you,  or all your thinking at once; just a few ways your thinking need’s to be readjusted.

Like the logs, once you remove the log-jam in your life, your life will flow in the right direction.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself.

How do you feel about yourself?

What do you think causes the greatest problems when you’re dealing with others?

What negative thinking constantly controls your mindset.

How to help somebody who is recovering from an addiction: praise and why sometimes this can have a negative effect.

We must apologise for not put in a blog up since the beginning of the year, Ewhat price can be a bad thingleos counselling has undergone a revamp of its website, which has taken us away from blogging, we intend to rectify this right now with this blog, hope you enjoy.

 

Recovering from any form of addiction can be hard, we have already discussed in another blog post how one of the overarching feelings that a person has when he or she is recovering from addiction is shame.

Recently while reading a book completely unrelated to counselling, I  was to find an interesting quote in the book  “the practice of practice”(Harum, 2014).The author quotes research carried out by Peter Gollwitzer into the subject of motivation; motivation is certainly one of the key ingredients that someone who is recovering from a substance misuse difficulty or behavioural problems such as gambling, needs.

 

Often what will happen is, that the person who is recovering, will not feel particularly encouraged by their support system ( the same people that encouraged them in the first place ). Often, a few months into their sobriety or change of habit a recovering person feels de-motivated as encouragement dies down, as people think that they are over their problem. In fact, this is often the hardest part of their recovery, and when relapses happen the most.

What often happens, the recovering person will state their goal to their support system which is often family and friends and people who wanted them to give up drinking, using drugs or number of other things such as, overeating, under eating, using drugs, or any number of negative patterns of behaviour. What in fact Gollwitzer says is that people need “ advance praise”, If we again return to the subject of shame and compare it to praise. Praise can be seen as the opposite of shame, so why wouldn’t a person in recovery want praise instead of Shame, with its added feelings of condemnation and judgement.

Unfortunately looking for “advance praise” can have a negative effect on recovery. Often a recovering person will gush about their goals, to others, and they would often be praised for setting such goals. The reason why a recovering addict would do this is that praise feels good, it fulfils their desire to identify as someone who is recovered, rather than in recovery. What Gollwitzer says is that our imagination is good at hamstringing the, a person who wants to change.

In fact, when somebody has been recovering, a short time their imaginative brain takes the praising which falls on them and tricks them into believing he or she have already done what he or she said he or she would do to recover;They believe that in fact  have fulfilled their goals by staying sober or making change into their negative behaviour but, unfortunately for some people, this can take many years. Moreover, it can also take many years to recover the trust that they had lost when they were indulging in negative behaviours.

 

Reference

 

Harum, J. (2014). The practice of practice. New York: Sol Ut Press.

 

 

 

Never Assume

Anger management_There’s an old saying that assumption makes an ass out of you and me. Assumption is something we all do, and often we will assume that instructions are understood, particularly when these are important. This could be a deadline on an important job or simply instructions on how to get to a place.
The word diligent implies someone who is methodical, scrupulous, arduous industrious and hard-working. If you are diligent, then when you do give instructions you would check to make sure that the person receiving the instructions has made a note of them. Certainly, if they haven’t made notes, you should be concerned.
The untrained and the indifferent tend to trust their memory with almost everything. But a good note is better than the best memory.
Furthermore, if you feel that someone is not taking what you’re saying seriously enough to write down the important points this can signal problems.
Regardless of the intentions being good, in their confusion and busyness or even, self-importance your instructions can easily be forgotten. A tip to bear in mind those who are actually listening to you will often ask questions about the work Or importance of the thing you’ve asked them to do, often asking for a deadline.
An interesting example is when you’ve asked for somebody to telephone someone on your behalf, they should automatically ask you If there is a time limit and when you want a report back on what they have discussed, Furthermore, how should they report back to you. If that kind of questions is not the first thing, you hear, then trusting that person to do that particular piece of work would be an assumption which could lead you to become in quite upset.
Half-hearted is often preceded by the word “try.”
Assumption, can often lead to you becoming frustrated and angry at the person you’ve asked to do a specific task or job, giving clear instructions on what you require reduces any form of assumption; Furthermore, mis- messages or confusing instructions can often lead to misinterpreted.

Above is the kind of thing that may cause you to be angry, Eleos Counselling offer a six-session anger management course,  click the link below to find out more .

Anger Management 

 

New Year’s resolution??

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At this time a year, most people make New Year’s resolutions I wonder if you’ve made any? American author and speaker on the topics of leadership, culture, sales, and teamwork Jon Gordon. Starts his year with a couple that you may like to include in your New Year’s resolutions. The first one is to stay positive; if you have a habit of listening to critics and believe that everything is impossible this could be a fundamental problem. Gordon also asks this himself a question today what my purposes is? Gordon suggests that you take a morning walk keeping in mind the things you’ve got to be grateful for, suggesting that this creates a fertile ground for success. Gordon, suggest you can’t be stressed and be thankful at the same time. Gordon also recommends that you take physical exercise give yourself a boost of energy. Indeed, there is evidence to support that light exercise in of itself is better than antidepressants.

Gordon also endorses that you take the time to mentor someone or indeed be mentored by someone. Furthermore, Gordon supports that you implement a mood of “no complaining” commenting that complaining is rather like being sick or vomiting; after you have done this you feel better, but people around you also feel ill.

For your self-development well-being, Gordon suggests that you read more than you did last year, get more rest than you did last year, suggesting that you can’t substitute sleep with a can of energy drink. Gordon also suggests that thinking of your mind as a garden, weeding the negative feeling the positive.

 

How do I help somebody who is living with an addiction? Part II

how-to-help-somebody-with-an-addiction_-eleoscounselling-blog

As mentioned in our last article thinking. again, of how one views addictions can, indeed help the person you love and want to help. Thinking of addiction as a compulsive behaviour rather than a disease or a character flaw can reap benefits when trying to help somebody with an addiction. An addict is not blind, a significant amount of the time they feel ashamed and guilty of what they’ve put their loved ones through. Someone with an addiction will convincingly tell you they are trying to stop or will never drink or do their addictive behaviour again, but will often do their behaviour nevertheless. On the surface, this looks like an outright lie, but at the heart of it, they are trying to stop. Often, the drive to relieve psychological pain it too much great; thinking of addiction as just a bad habit is a wrong assumption.

Another assumption often made, by people trying to help an addict or someone with a compulsive behaviour that if they try hard enough, they can fix the person with the addiction. Often this will cause the addict to lie about their addiction all the more, this lying is a source of shame, causing more psychological pain pushing them more and more into that addictive behaviour.

Something to  bear in mind, for anybody helping somebody with an addiction, is that guilt and shame are powerful drivers for addictive behaviour. Furthermore, if the addict, is lying that does not mean that they no longer love you or respect you. Fundamentally lying is a part of addiction. Often, addictions are driven by a powerful and necessary drive to fight against a sense of helplessness.

A way of understanding this is to imagine a person trapped in the cave, and battling out of the cave with a broken wrist. This is not self-destructive is just a sense of overwhelming powerlessness and the need to battle, that helplessness.

This article originally appeared in counselling directory

 

Just Look Up

eleos-counselling_just-look-upDuring the summer I was to see something that set me thinking. I was in a large shopping mall; there was a seated area where I was waiting for my wife. A young woman was breastfeeding her baby, under a muslin cloth; nothing wrong with that quite natural but what she was doing while she was breastfeeding her child was looking at her mobile phone.

As someone who teaches anger management, I have learned through my research one of the fundamental ways that we assess threats by looking into the face of our would-be aggressor. We evaluate threats in less than the blinking of an eye quickly making the decision, whether a person is a threat or not a threat.  This response, according to research has found that in early childhood, looking at or mother’s eyes. I wondered, what the young lady breastfeeding her child was teaching her child, what internal message had this baby received from its mother, as she is updating  her Facebook status or text a friend. Experts say

I was recently touched by a post, ironically, on Facebook by a gentleman called Gary Turk, you may have seen this. Turk asked us to look up, from a mobile device, that life can be going by whilst we engage in social media. I urge you to watch this and paradoxically life is as we frantically engage in social media.

I wonder what mixed messages the baby in the arms, of the young lady, engaged with social media, had got from  its mother: who  was too busy engaging social media or texting  even to look at her child  breastfeeding, the most naturally bonding thing a mother can do for its child.

 

 

How do I help somebody who is living with an addiction?

eleos-counselling-blog_-helping-someone-with-addictions

Looking addiction in a new way, one would realise that the idea of “tough love” makes little or no sense. If it were so easy for a person to stop an addictive behaviour, after “a good talking to” there would possibly be nobody with an addiction in this country. Furthermore, if addictions were some bad habit or even some form of moral weakness, it might make sense to give the person “a good talking to”. In fact, this becomes sensationalist television in the US. One only has to look at YouTube to find various “fly on the wall” documentary series of families of people with addictions, trying to help them. Indeed, one could say this is the worst form of sensationalist television. If a person was lazy or unfocused giving them a good kick up the back side may work, but unfortunately doesn’t a great many times.

If I could ask, you take a different view of addictions a look at this, not as a bad habit, a moral weakness, genetic fault, or some personality trait but looking at addiction as a psychological compulsive behaviour.

Indeed, traditionally, addictions are never considered as a compulsive behaviour, such as compulsive washing of hands, cleaning, exercising or even compulsive shopping. However, looking on these, forms of actions, as emotionally driven behaviours in an effort to manage particularly challenging feelings, may shine a different light on how one can help someone with an addiction.

Dr Lance Dodes MD, director of substance abuse treatment centre at Harvard Maclean hospital, suggest that our traditional view of dependencies needs to change if we were to help someone struggling, with an addiction. Furthermore, he suggests that the psychological drive to be free of pain and be liberated from the sense of helplessness, is a driver behind all addictive behaviours.

This blog originally appeared in counselling directory

 

A new look at relationships?

If modern soap operas are anything to go by, and if as we think of them as our window on our own lives and the lives of others. A week does not seem to go by in soap land before there is some form of infidelity.

Moreover, faithfulness in marriage and the idea of having a faithful eleos counselling blog_a new look at relationshipsmarriage is being challenged not only by the media, soap operas but also in popular culture. We often see portrayed in the press, and the entertainment industry that the idea of infidelity is an enjoyable game for two but, unfortunately, there is a downside.

Often, when the affair has run its course, and the realisation of  the pain and suffering it has caused not only to the two people involved in the relationship but also the individuals who are left at home, the ones who love them and depend on them.

Let’s look at what marriage can mean. After the initial thrill, the couple settled down to the mundane things of life, the cooking and cleaning the earning a living often people will think the grass is greener. But this lawn has to be regularly cut as well.

Often, when one is dating we see the best of each other, but the realisation of marriage and getting on with each other can be an irritating experience, often like those annoying habits were the same things irritated you when you’re with your ex-wife or ex-husband now irritate you with your new partner.

Often you hear discontent people saying that marriage feels confining; often an individual will rile against this, moving from one relationship to another, in a confused and often vain attempt at finding an answer, to a question they often don’t know.

 

The challenge here is instead of looking for the right person, finding the right person to the person you have in front of you. One of the surprises can often be finding the qualities you’re looking for in the person you’re actual with you fell in love with a long time ago. Very often the qualities have always been there, but you’ve chosen to overlook them.

 

“I Wish” lessons from childhood

Recently I saw something that struck a chord with me. A year six teacher spoke about the results of a creative writing project she had given to her class. She asked the kids in the class to complete the following sentence “I wish”.I wish_Eleos counselling blog post

One would think it would be healthy for children so young to write about their desires for a new bike, Xbox, or a new laptop or tablet. But instead of writing for their wishes for the latest high-tech gizmo. 20 of the 30 young kids made reference to the breakup of their families. Furthermore, the internal conflict in their homes and in the statement I wish they added “I wish my father would come back” I wish to get good grades so my dad would love me” “I wish my mother didn’t have a boyfriend.” “I wish I had one mum mum dad.”

Nobody would be surprised to know that the family unit is in trouble. But if you’re like me it is continually distressing that such young children struggle at a time of their lives where they should be having fun, making good relationships, forming real bonds.

Undoubtedly, every aspect of a child’s life is affected when a family breaks up, or there is instability. Without the ability to gain access to professional counselling many of the kids affected this way will drag their problems into future relationships, empirical research has shown.

Undoubtedly, research has shown, that without the proper professional help, the crumbling will repeat itself again and again