Life style and loneliness

Yaşam Şekli ve Yalnızlık

Loneliness is the subjective problem of feeling alone, and it has a strong effect on the well-being. If the social connections of the person fail to satisfy the quantity or quality he desires, we can mention the sense of loneliness.  Loneliness is universal, and it may have been evolved as a signal mechanism to protect the humankind from a dangerous isolation. On the other hand, loneliness is a subjective feeling that includes a certain judgment concerning the meaning of an individual’s social connections within the framework of that individual’s cognitive values and expectations.

Throughout the past decades, loneliness may have rapidly increased as a consequence of the accelerated deep changes in the family structure, workplace relationships, digital connectedness, settled life, and urban social life styles. Loneliness affects not only the quantity and quality of our social interactions, but also our values and expectations.

Recent surveys reported that one or two out of every 10 adults feel lonely in the USA, Japan, and Europe.

In addition to higher rates of depression and anxiety, and health problems like cognitive disorders and dementia, lonely people have a higher possibility of experiencing motor function disorders, hypertension, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, obesity, and sleep problems. Loneliness also increases the risk of unhealthy life styles, such as an immobile life, smoking or substance addiction.

Comprehending the psychological determinants of loneliness in a better way would offer effective objectives for future supplementary interventions.

In a study, researchers aimed to evaluate the contributions of the meaning of life (sense of consistency, the purpose in life, interaction with life) in predicting loneliness, and to compare it to other well-known determinants by distinguishing its cognitive, emotional and motivational sub-components. These determinants are sociodemographic factors (sex, age, educational level), life style (nourishment, exercises, cognitive activities, sleep), overall health (mental health, cognitive health, physical health), and social dependency (social interaction, domestic life).

As a result of this cross-sectional study, a strong correlation was spotted between the low scores of the meaning of life, and high senses of loneliness in adulthood. Low scores of overall health and meaning of life were determined as the most important factors correlated with loneliness. Moreover, low social dependency and unhealthy life styles were the significant predictors of loneliness. Nevertheless, other than the quality of sleep, sociodemographic factors and life styles had quite a little correlation with loneliness. Conversely, in the social dependency group, domestic life (people we live together with) and social interactions (number and frequency of interactions with family and friends) were not correlated with loneliness.

In conclusion, in addition to well-known risk factors like social dependency and mental health, it is important to take the psychological structures of the individuals into account as the determinants of loneliness. The welfare of the society can be increased by making a significant and consistent life plan for an individual in this battle that our modern societies fight against loneliness.

– Macià, D., Cattaneo, G., Solana, J., Tormos, J. M., Pascual-Leone, A., & Bartrés-Faz, D. (2021). Meaning in Life: A Major Predictive Factor for Loneliness Comparable to Health Status and Social Connectedness. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 260.