Loneliness and Health: Loneliness Causes Illness, but Illness Causes Loneliness …So What Can We Do?

Rarely, I read an article whose words jump off the pages of the magazine and into my heart where their existence stays and haunts me, forcing me to explore the matter deeper.

Last night was one of those rare instances. While reading a magazine, I came across an article that I have not been able to get off my mind. So much so, that I ripped it out and placed it on my bedside table.

The article presents the notion that loneliness causes illness and backs the idea with fascinating -and for someone like me, anxiety filled- factual scientific evidence of all the ways in which loneliness can in fact lead to illness, which I will briefly discuss below.

So, why did this article have so much power over me?

Because, I realized there was a major problem with it, not in regards to how it was written as I believe it was beautifully written, but because it missed the entire other side of the issue, the alarming one faced by you and I, assuming you also have Lyme or another illness that renders you isolated most of the time. Illness leaves many of us isolated, and we often feel abandoned by society, and therefore quite lonely at the same time.

illness renders you isolated most of the time

Can we fix this issue?

So, if illness causes loneliness, and loneliness causes illness, those of us who are lonely because we are ill are in quite the predicament. Is our illness then, in itself, making us sicker? Maybe, maybe not. Personally, I do not feel it is a lost cause, given we acknowledge the situation at face value and find ways to be alone without being lonely.

The article touched on the profoundly powerful effects of social interaction. Simply put, social interaction leads to healthier, happier and longer lives. On the other hand, loneliness leads to just the opposite.

Apparently, individuals with strong ties to family, friends, and coworkers are endowed with health benefits such as fewer colds, less stress, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and improved cognition -all of which i individuals with Lyme disease have as a direct effect of the disease itself to begin with.

Furthermore, he claims that those with strong social connections “have a 50 percent greater chance of outliving those with fewer social connections.”

That is an alarmingly high rate for us, considering our longevity is already threatened by disease -a disease which causes loneliness, which in itself seems to be its own disease. So, if both are working against us, what can we do?

Most of us spend the majority of our time within the same four walls for months, years, even decades on end.

As a result, it seems we either go in one of two directions due to this: either we come to enjoy and prefer solitude, or we pine for human interaction which is quite difficult to achieve when our mental and physical stamina often times barely provide us with enough fuel to get water or go to the restroom.

Of course, those are two extremes. Many of us are in the middle ground, if not most, as we are human. Even if we come to prefer solitude, we have moments where we miss feeling as if we are part of a community.

Solitude and Lyme Disease

It is human nature to desire interaction with others. Just the same, if we are always sad over being lonely, we still have moments where we find ourselves quite enjoying the aspects of solitude.

Personally, I came to enjoy solitude so incredibly much that by the time I reached remission I much preferred it. Staying home to read or write on a Friday night sounded much more enjoyable than going out with “friends” who hardly visited me while I was sick.

This in itself can become unhealthy though once we heal, because then we don’t want to be around others really, because by the time we regain our health, we are entirely new people. After countless hours spent in isolation, we become unconditioned by society -something that many try to achieve, but that is forced up individuals like us.

So, when we are finally able to rejoin society, we do not feel as if we fit in. We find that even when surrounded by others, there is a part of us that will always be alone, that will always be different, and that could never be understood by the average person.

At first, I harbored much frustration over this fact, but I have since learned to view it as something beautiful rather than tragic. But, how do we tackle this problem?

So, when we are finally able to rejoin society, we do not feel as if we fit in. We find that even when surrounded by others, there is a part of us that will always be alone, that will always be different, and that could never be understood by the average person.

How can we avoid further illness from loneliness, when we already have an illness which makes us lonely?

As Franz Kafka, an author whose life was filled with solitude and pain, so eloquently stated,

“each of us has his own way of emerging from the underworld, mine is by writing.”

He could not have been more correct. I believe channeling our trials and tribulations into creativity, whether it be writing or painting or any other hobby, is the key to preventing the severity of the loneliness we feel while we are alone.

When lost in the creative process of whatever activity our souls are drawn to we connect with something at a deeper level than we, in many ways, have ever connected with another human being.

Tips To Combat Loneliness While Chronically Ill

Turning our darkness into light through some form of creativity is often an efficient avenue to help us be alone without being lonely. Still, one size does not fit all, which is that this does not entirely prevent us from ever experiencing feelings of loneliness.

What are some good ways to connect with others while we are bedridden or home-bound the majority of the time?

  • SOCIAL MEDIA (support groups, used in a positive way): Of course, this one is a no brainer. Social media. For a healthy individual, it would be better to interact with others in person rather than from behind a screen. For us, it is sometimes all we can manage, and that is okay. The fact that it is all we can do at times does not matter so much as the fact that we do in fact try.

  • SCHEDULE A SKYPE DATE WITH SOMEONE GOING THROUGH SOMETHING SIMILAR: Skyping with someone is another fabulous social fix for us. While it is easier to text or call one another on the phone, something about being able to see one another makes us feel more connected and less alone. Ideally, scheduling a weekly “skype date” with a friend is the most beneficial way to utilize skype to prevent loneliness. Out of all the people out there who are isolated with illness, there is bound to be at least one person who we connect with well enough to do so.

  • VOLUNTEER ONLINE: Find ways to volunteer online, especially ways that help bring awareness to your own illness. As far as Lyme disease goes, ILADS (The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society) is a great place to start. As they state on the volunteer page of their website, “Whether it’s online community support, gathering donations, securing a sponsorship, or helping out with the conferences, ILADS has a position where you can help. Join our TEAM and become a Leader in Lyme disease education and awareness.”
    • By partnering with a cause like this, you become part of a team. You become part of something much larger than yourself. You can explore ways to volunteer for ILADS by filling out the contact form on the volunteer page of their website (http://ilads.org/ilads_media/volunteer/). Also, they have a special campaign going on right now in which you can become a part of called “Lyme Power of Us” (http://www.ilads.org/lyme-powerofus.php).) Another great community to be a part of is the “Tick Borne Disease Alliance (http://tbdalliance.org)”

  • WRITING: If you feel up to writing, check out some online writing gigs regarding a subject you feel strongly about.

  • WHEN YOU DO LEAVE THE HOUSE: Finally, when we do leave our houses, we tend to keep to ourselves out of habit. Rather than remaining silent with our noses in a book we do not even understand while in the waiting room at our doctor’s office, we can simply say “hello” to anyone else waiting alongside us. Whenever we are in public, we have the opportunity to start a conversation with whoever is around us. This helps to prevent the all too common social anxiety that begins to plague us after years of being, for the most part, alone.

As John T. Cacioppo, a psychology professor at the University of Chicago, stated,

“Speaking face-to-face is always best, but online is better than nothing. When you use social media as a way to promote richer interactions in the real world, that’s a very good thing. The bottom line: It’s okay to start the conversation online -as long as you don’t let it end there.”

If you have Lyme disease or another chronic illness that has left you isolated most of the time, what are your thoughts on this? Do you feel loneliness is a major issue that needs to be addressed but is too often ignored in the Lyme community and other chronic illness communities?

Comment below with your thoughts, let me know if you are ready to join the cause to change this, or leave any of your own tips you use for dealing with loneliness for others to take note of. 🙂

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Beginner Hatha Yoga: Relax, Rejuvenate & Restore

beginner 20 min hatha yoga
Click the above image for your free 20 minutes All Levels Hatha Yoga practice!

Today we will be doing a 20 minute Gentle Hatha Yoga Stretch To Relax, Rejuvenate & Restore. This gentle Hatha style of yoga is perfect for when you need a slower-paced, deep, relaxing, restorative stretch.

Gentle Hatha Yoga Stretch To Relax, Rejuvenate & Restore

This gentle Hatha style of yoga is perfect for when you need a more slow paced, deep, relaxing, restorative stretch.

 Gentle Hatha yoga is great after a long day, but also on mornings when you feel stiff upon waking or during the workday when you’ve been sitting too long and need a break (…if you are looking for a more fast-paced type of yoga, check out my videos that are flow or vinyasa yoga videos)

Although Gentle yoga may not seem as intense physically, it is still just as abundant in health benefits as other styles of yoga. 
For example, just like other styles of yoga, gentle yoga such as gentle hatha yoga offers increased flexibility and strength, calms and centers the mind, relieves stress, and depression, and more. 

gentle hatha yoga for beginners

Another benefit to gentle yoga is that since the movement is slower, there is more of an emphasis on linking movement with breath as we transition through poses.

Moving slowly and mindfully also provides extra nourishment and TLC to the muscles, joints, and tissues, including deeper layers of tissues such as connective tissues.  

Gentle hatha yoga offers us the chance to explore our “edge” in yoga, which is the place in a pose where you are able to move into the fullest, or deepest, expression of a posture and reap the most benefit without feeling pain. It helps you to become mindful of the difference between discomfort and pain, which is super important in yoga.

Discomfort is okay, pain is never okay. So, taking time to do slower styles of yoga and get in tune with your body and know your “edge” is super important, as it will help you learn your limits so you can practice without injuring yourself. This is especially beneficial when practicing a fast-paced vinyasa style of yoga.

Gentle Hatha yoga, and other gentle styles of yoga such as restorative yoga and yin yoga, offer additional benefits such as digestive improvements, relaxing effects on the central nervous system, and improvements in sleep quality and patterns when practiced on a regular basis. 

  • Check out the full Gentle Yoga playlist for more free gentle yoga practices: GENTLE YOGA PLAYLIST
  • For super gentle and beginner practices, take a look at the “bed yoga” playlist: BED YOGA PLAYLIST
  • To receive never miss out on new videos, visit the channel page and subscribe to the Awaken 2 Health channel. Then, hit the “bell” icon next to the subscribe button to ensure you are notified the moment a new video is uploaded: SUBSCRIBE HERE

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Opening Your Heart Center: How to Navigate the Obstacles of Heart Based Living

Opening your heart center to engage in heart based living can greatly increase the richness and joy of your life. But it is important to be aware that you may face obstacles when journeying into the realm of heart based perception. That way, you can learn to navigate the common obstacles of heart based living so you know what to do if you are faced with them.

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Find out more about what exactly heart based living, or heart consciousness is.

Heart based living means placing your consciousness in your heart, rather than your head, at times to allow the heart to intuitively guide you using your “feeling sense” –not your emotions, but the sense of knowing that arises in situations for no particular reason, the sense that something “feels right” or “feels wrong”. 

The heart interprets outside sensory input before the brain does due to its vast electromagnetic field. So, learning to interpret signals sent to the brain from the heart is essential to heart based living. 

Pros and Cons of Heart Based Living: Pros

Becoming aware of the heart’s ability to do this leads to the development of what we often refer to as your intuition and your ability to use your intuition to guide you through life. When you can work with your intuition in this way, you are able to become an active participant in your life and you stop feeling like life is simply “happening” to you. 

If you want to engage in heart based living, you have to first connect with your field. Simply doing this 15 minute guided meditation every day will get you well on your way to heart based living

Pros and Cons of Heart Based Living: Cons

On the darker side, when you initially begin working with your heart as an organ of perception, you are prone to facing certain challenges since you are navigating your way through new territories. For example, you are taking in more unfiltered sensory data than you are most likely used to, and may experience sensory overwhelm/overstimulation.

Also, it can become difficult to decipher what you really feel and think when you are constantly letting in what others feel and think. Fortunately, it is quite easy to avoid this if you are aware of what is happening.

Overcoming the Obstacles of Heart Based Living 

Fortunately, you can overcome these possible pitfalls of heart based living and still reap the positive benefits.  One of the primary ways to do so is by gaining acute self awareness and becoming keenly aware of the difference between “me” and “not me” to distinguish if what you are feeling is coming from you or from energy you have taken on from someone or something else. 

To do this, become accustomed to routinely asking yourself, “was I feeling this way prior to being in a new environment or around a new person?”. Trace your way back to the origin of the emotion or feeling that is bothering you. 

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Meditation, alone time, and setting aside time for extreme self care is also of extreme importance, because you must take time to go within and know yourself on the deepest level.

You must become familiar with all the parts within that make you an integrated whole, even the darkest parts we tend to avoid, so you are aware what is you and what is not you.

How to Cope with Sensory Overwhelm From Heart Based Living 

Sensory overwhelm/overload is also likely to happen at times, and it is important to take alone time to decompress when this occurs. Any of these simple tactics will offer relief:

  • If you are home or somewhere where you are able to, go to a quiet room or maybe somewhere outside in nature. Meditate, or just simply be in silence and tune into the sensation of your breathing. 

  • You can also do a specific meditation for heart based living. such as a guided heart opening meditation, which will greatly reduce sensory overwhelm in only 15 minutes.

  • Do any mindful activity where you can avoid all external stimulation so you can go within and feel only what is real to you

Why Learning to Sense and Connect with Your Heart’s Energy Field Is So Important 

Focusing only on  the energy of your own heart field as it expands throughout your body can ground you back into your own energy. Over time, working with this simple meditation alone can help you get out of or reduce sensory overwhelm in around 30 minutes. However, connecting to your heart field for as little as 3-5 minutes in this way various times throughout the day can be immensely helpful in reducing episodes of overwhelm. 

In short, heart based living can greatly enrich your quality of life and bring a depth and meaning to it you never knew possible.

Fortunately, there are simple ways to navigate your way around or through these downfalls, so you can still engage in heart based living in a way that ultimately enriches your quality of life to a significant degree in every aspect. 

If you are someone used to using your heart as an organ of perception, have dabbled in doing so, let me know in the comments what your experience has been like.  In your opinion, what benefits does it offer? Pitfalls? Is it worth it? 

Feeling a little lost and in need of guidance as you make the journey from mind based consciousness to heart based living/consciousness? I’d be happy to guide you and help in any way! 

Or if you are new to do this and have questions, leave them in the comments below. 

I will gladly answer, and help you on every step of the journey. Thanks for reading, and thanks for showing up for yourself today! 


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