Taking Charge of Your Health

Everybody feels lonely from time to time. When we have no one to sit next to at lunch, when we move to a new city, or when nobody has time for us at the weekend. But over the last few decades, this occasional feeling has become chronic for millions. In the UK, 60% of 18 to 34-year-olds
say they often feel lonely. In the US, 46% of the entire
population feel lonely regularly. We are living in the most
connected time in human history. And yet, an unprecedented number of us feel isolated. Being lonely and being alone are not the same thing. You can be filled with bliss by yourself and hate every second surrounded by friends. Loneliness is a purely subjective, individual experience. If you feel lonely, you are lonely. A common stereotype is that loneliness only happens to people who don’t know how to talk to people, or how to behave around others. But population-based studies have shown that social skills make practically no difference for adults when it comes to social connections. Loneliness can affect everybody: money, fame, power, beauty, social skills, a great personality; Nothing can protect you against loneliness because it’s part of your biology. Loneliness is a bodily function, like hunger. Hunger makes you pay attention
to your physical needs. Loneliness makes you pay attention
to your social needs. Your body cares about your social needs,
because millions of years ago it was a great
indicator of how likely you were to survive. Natural selection rewarded
our ancestors for collaboration, and for
forming connections with each other. Our brains grew and became more and more fine-tuned to recognize what others thought and felt, and to form and sustain social bonds. Being social became part of our biology. You were born into groups of 50 to 150 people which you usually stayed with for the rest of your life. Getting enough calories, staying safe and warm, or caring for offspring was practically impossible alone. Being together meant survival. Being alone meant death. So it was crucial that you got along with others. For your ancestors, the most dangerous threat to survival was not being eaten by a lion, but not getting the social vibe of
your group and being excluded. To avoid that, your body came up with ‘social pain’. Pain of this kind is an
evolutionary adaptation to rejection: a sort of early warning system to make sure
you stop behavior that would isolate you. Your ancestors who experienced rejection as more painful were more likely to change their behavior when they got rejected and thus stayed in the tribe, while those who did
not got kicked out and most likely died. That’s why rejections hurt. And even more so, why loneliness is so painful. These mechanisms for keeping us connected worked great for most of our history, until humans began building a new world for themselves. The loneliness epidemic we see today
really only started in the late Renaissance. Western culture began to focus on the individual. Intellectuals moved away from the collectivism of the Middle Ages, while the young Protestant theology stressed individual responsibility. This trend accelerated during the Industrial Revolution. People left their villages and fields to enter factories. Communities that had existed for hundreds of years began to dissolve, while cities grew. As our world rapidly became modern,
this trend sped up more and more. Today, we move vast distances for new jobs, love and education, and leave our social net behind. We meet fewer people in person, and we
meet them less often than in the past. In the US, the mean number of close friends
dropped from 3 in 1985 to 2 in 2011. Most people stumble into chronic
loneliness by accident. You reach adulthood
and become busy with work, university, romance, kids and Netflix.
There’s just not enough time. The most convenient and easy thing to sacrifice
is time with friends. Until you wake up one day and
realize that you feel isolated; that you yearn for close relationships. But it’s hard to find close connections as adults and so, loneliness can become chronic. While humans feel pretty great about
things like iPhones and spaceships, our bodies and minds are fundamentally
the same they were 50,000 years ago. We are still biologically fine-tuned
to being with each other. Large scale studies have shown that the stress that comes from chronic loneliness is among the most unhealthy things
we can experience as humans. It makes you age quicker, it makes cancer deadlier, Alzheimer’s advance faster,
your immune systems weaker. Loneliness is twice as deadly as obesity and
as deadly as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The most dangerous thing about it is that once it becomes chronic, it can become self-sustaining. Physical and social pain use common mechanisms in your brain. Both feel like a threat, and so, social pain leads to immediate and defensive behaviour when it’s inflicted on you. When loneliness becomes chronic,
your brain goes into self-preservation mode. It starts to see danger and hostility everywhere. But that’s not all. Some studies found that when you’re lonely, your brain is much more receptive and alert to social signals, while at the same time, it gets worse
at interpreting them correctly. You pay more attention to others but you understand them less. The part of your brain
that recognises faces gets out of tune and becomes more likely to categorize neutral faces as hostile, which makes it distrustful of others. Loneliness makes you assume the worst
about others’ intentions towards you. Because of this perceived hostile world, you can become up more self-centered to protect yourself, which can make you appear more cold, unfriendly and socially awkward than you really are. If loneliness has become a strong presence in your life, the first thing you can do is to try to recognise the vicious cycle you may be trapped in. It usually goes something like this: An initial feeling of isolation leads to feelings of tension and sadness, which makes you focus your attention selectively on negative interactions with others. This makes your thoughts about
yourself and others more negative, which then changes your behavior. You begin to avoid social interaction, which leads to more feelings of isolation. This cycle becomes more severe
and harder to escape each time. Loneliness makes you sit far away from others in class, not answer the phone when friends call, decline invitations until the invitations stop. Each and every one of us has a story about ourselves, and if your story becomes that people exclude you, others pick up on that, and so the outside world can become the way you feel about it. This is often a slow creeping process that takes years, and can end in depression and a mental state that prevents connections, even if you yearn for them. The first thing you can do to escape it is to
accept that loneliness is a totally normal
feeling and nothing to be ashamed of. Literally, everybody feels lonely at some
point in their life, it’s a universal human experience. You can’t eliminate or ignore
a feeling until it goes away magically, but you can accept that you
feel it and get rid of its cause. You can self-examine what you focus
your attention on, and check if you are
selectively concentrating on negative things. Was this interaction with a colleague really negative,
or was it really neutral or even positive? What was the actual content of an interaction? What did the other person say? And did they say something bad,
or did you add extra meaning to their words? Maybe another person was not really
reacting negatively, but just short on time. Then, there are your thoughts about the world.
Are you assuming the worst about others’ intentions? Do you enter a social situation
and have already decided how it will go? Do you assume others don’t want you around? Are you trying to avoid being hurt
and not risking opening up? And, if so, can you try
to give others the benefit of the doubt? Can you just assume that they’re not against you? Can you risk being open and vulnerable again? And lastly, your behaviour. Are you avoiding opportunities to be around others?
Are you looking for excuses to decline invitations? Or are you pushing others away
preemptively to protect yourself? Are you acting as if you’re getting attacked? Are you really looking for new connections,
or have you become complacent with your situation? Of course, every person
and situation is unique and different, and just introspection alone might not be enough. If you feel unable to solve your situation by yourself, please try to reach out and get professional help.
It’s not a sign of weakness, but of courage. However we look at loneliness, as a purely individual problem that needs solving to create more personal happiness, or as a public health crisis, it is something that deserves more attention. Humans have built a world that’s nothing short of amazing, and yet, none of the shiny things we’ve made is able to satisfy or substitute our fundamental biological need for connection. Most animals get what they need from their physical surroundings. We get what we need from each other, and we need to build our
artificial human world based on that. Let’s try something together:
let’s reach out to someone today, regardless if you feel a little bit lonely,
or if you want to make someone else’s day better. Maybe write a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Call a family member who’s become estranged. Invite a work buddy for a coffee, Or just go to something you’re usually too afraid to go to or too lazy to go to, like a D&D event or a sports club. Everybody’s different,
so you know what’s a good fit for you. Maybe nothing will come of it, and that’s okay.
Don’t do this with any expectations. The goal is just to open up a bit; to exercise your connection muscles,
so they can grow stronger over time, or to help others exercise them. We want to recommend two of the books
we read while researching this video. ‘Emotional First Aid’ by Guy Winch,
a book that addresses, among other topics, how to deal with loneliness in a way that we found helpful and actionable and ‘Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection’ by John Cacioppo and William Patrick. It’s an entertaining and scientific exploration as to why we experience loneliness on a biological level, how it spread in society and what science
has to say about how to escape it. Links for both books are in the video description. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe!

100 thoughts on “Loneliness

  1. We designed a poster on this topic as well. You can find it here:

  2. Yo shared this vid on facebook, shout out to all my friends who reacted to it all 2 of you…oh wait that's my therapist and imaginary friend. Welp. Who needs friends when you have youtube and ice cream?! 😞

  3. I’ve been alone almost all my life I’ve never had a true genuine friend I won’t lie or sucks but by this point I’ve been alone for so long why bother trying to fix it. I’ve never really been able to actually depend on someone else.

  4. My mental pain became physical pain. My physical pain became a good type of bone cancer. If my good type bone cancer is good then my mental pain can be good too?

  5. You get lonely, you need somebody, when somebody tries to make connection with you you ignore them, waiting for somebody that you like, never know that people are the ones ignore you, you talk to people you dont like you start pretend in your life, life becomes drama, the people you like destined to make your life miserable……..

  6. I never considered anyone a real friend, someone I can fully relate to, the people I have been with are not my type, to consider anyone my friend I just need to have good vibes and confidence with him, also I just need to feel that is not just a superficial friendship, I don't want to waste time with someone that doesn't connect with me, actually is pretty hard, from all the people i've met nobody understand me or just accept me from who I am trully, and doesn't wanna force me to do things that If I was myself I would not do. The most important thing in a friendship is to not fake anything, including your personality and your true self, if it doesn't work out, don't bother wasting more time with that """""""friend"""""".

  7. shit ive become attuned to it i thought i wasnt even lonely anymore but now I definitely put on armor and try to seem unapproachable

  8. I always bring my ball jonited doll with me I sit with him when I have my meal .i dress him and make things for him with his friend who is a custom monster high boy that I made ..I think I should get a ESA dog …idk

  9. Sometimes i just wish i had siblings so if I'd feel lonely at school i could know that i have a totally different life at home were me and my siblings are always having a great time. They would be my friends and i would have no doubts for them because I'd know that they really love me and have time for me. That was dramatic Lolool

  10. Considering the fact that I starting maladaptive daydreaming out of being lonely when I was only 6, the fact that I get jealous when people hang out without me , I think it's safe to assume I have loneliness

  11. 7:35

    Dude I can't even do that, I don't have any friends to hang up on. I don't even need to distance myself from people around me, I still feel lonely. Whether I hold a conversation with them, I still feel so numb. Like it's just another day, and nothing is changing. My life is like watching paint dry, it isn't interesting.

    It isn't even interesting enough to pity, my life is mediocre and what causes me the most pain is myself. The thing is I'm always around myself and only myself, so I can't even do anything about it. I can't even distract my mind with things that I used to take interest in, I'm just so tired. But no matter how much I sleep I get, nothing fulfills my mental tiredness.

    I've been lonely for so many years that it's more normal to talk to myself than to talk to others, it's ridiculous. Because no matter how many times I try to make friends or actually fix it, it doesn't work. It doesn't work to the point that I blame myself for not being able to make friends, for not being popular, for not being the class clown, all I do is blame myself. I beat myself up EVERY day, and nothing changes. It goes through one ear and out the other, which only causes more self hatred. It's like watching Joy from Inside Out try and cheer up Sadness, but it never actually works. It's sad, but I don't even pity myself anymore. I'm just living a mediocre life while being numb and wasting my day away on YouTube watching things like this knowing it won't change how messed up my life is.

  12. Kurzgesagt: you can go to a therapist he can help you. The therapist: you have 30min to tell me what’s your problem give me the money and get out of here because I don’t have time for you. That’s how therapists work in my country.

  13. Loneliness = not under perpetual exterior influences and pressures. Maybe the balance for some peoples is between the loneliness and social integration. The society don't work fine with everybody because the high sensitivity and/or singularity from a part of the peoples and myself and the pressure of the social rules established from the dominants are just not compatibles and push theses peoples to protect themselves with this form of negative reflex behavior when they cannot close their eyes anymore on the negatives faces of their lifes conditions in the human society, their social conflicts or even their moral conflicts with somes parts of reality of the nature resulted by a certain degree of consciousness.

    In this world, the loneliness is my best friend to keep me out of death wish or to become toxic in a self destruction schematic. My mind is like a stone ; when i overheat, i need to back of from the fire for avoiding explosion.

    Also it's a good reflex but that can to place us in a defense position who prevent moral disorders but hard to live with and far to ideals.

    This behavior is usable like a tool when not motivate by fear to keep a focus like training, studying and analysis something by exemples or others activity alone free from exterior distractions.

    "better alone than in bad company"

  14. Sometimes when I'm "lonely" I don't think I'm actually lonely but self conscious of other people judging me or judging myself why I can't be social…

  15. I survived childhood trauma, psychological abuse and so many things I can’t even remember… but one thing that I always knew was the fact that while I was struggling with those situations I would never be able to survive the last one: Solitude.

    It’s funny how I was reading something similar a few days ago about how lonely people die early and felt very scared. It hit me like a truck because I try to exercise, eat well, sleep and keep the monsters away but it’s just ironic… I will never find my people, it’s frustrating because it’s me the problem, I’m weird, strange, different.
    I can give others the best experiences of their lives and edged their souls and yet no one has done so with me.
    Oh God here I go… existential crisis mode: ON.

    Anyway, thank you for the reminder, at least my art gives me purpose.

  16. the #1 thing you need to do to get away from being lonely is take your phone and your friends or families phone and dump them in a wood chipper.

  17. one thing ive come to realise as entering young adult life, is that friendships surge and then dissolve, love grows and then dies. Someday you just wake up without any relevant purpose, and sometimes things change for the better, you make connections, you go out, you are happy, you are blissed… only for it to somehow slip through your fingers all over again, then you have to restart, and restart, and restart and restart. As many times as you'll have to.
    As long as you live.
    And thats it.
    And i think I'll be fine if i really process the fact that living is indeed suffering, but also the precious inbetweens.
    Nothing ever stays the same and everything changes, the good and the bad, pretty or ugly, because thats what life is.
    What i find difficult is letting the happy moments go when they are already gone, without resenting whats to come.
    Knowing that the future will probably be gone too makes it easyer to pass through bad times, but also makes it really hard to fight for the good ones

  18. this video completely changed my life and after 3 years of loneliness i started to be more open. it kinda makes me wanna cry when i look at this video again after 10 months and realize how far ive come

  19. I seldom feel lonely though I'm often alone, and I sometimes feel relaxed realizing myself being alone, like being alone in my tiny study room of my home on 15th floor looking out the window to the street and city in a rainy day. I don't know if it is because I'm just used to it.

  20. I've been doing this since age 14, now I'm 18 years old and only have one best friend who lives in another state. I seriously contemplate suicide on a monthly basis, and get very scared when I am all alone with nothing to do. Earlier this year I was getting much better with my social skills and have been opening up to people but gave up because I don't feel a bond that I long for. This video has helped me realize that I shouldn't give up because of this and each interaction is diffrent than the previous one. It's also made me understand that I don't have a problem and that loneliness is the thing that is hurting my mental instability. Thank you for this video

  21. Everytime I try to talk to my friends, they find a way to hurt me. This is why I think loneliness is good. Should I overcome this situation, or should I keep it the way it is.

  22. I push my friends away, because I feel I might hurt them. I can't have that mentality where they're always at risk when I'm around

  23. people in my school are very cruel towards others most of the time I am alone sometimes ,I’m looked at different for no reason.

  24. Man, it's shit like this that really makes me think that humanity has a chance of saving itself from itself…someday.

  25. UGH I DIDN'T THINK I WAS GONNA CRY TODAY. That's it. The next chance I get, I'm seeing my boyfriend and hugging the shite out of him. And I'm not letting go… I wish my town had resources available for me to meet people but first I have to become less socially anxious… I don't care what anyone says, loneliness is the absolute WORST feeling in the world.

  26. No more words needed than: Thank you guys, for helping the whole mankind. Me.
    Love to you and your work.

  27. I'm getting distracted to read the comments instead because the internet people are more relatable than the people around me.

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