While some alone time is essential for resetting the mind and regaining mental strength, loneliness is not at all good. Even if you learn to enjoy your own company, you will eventually lose a lot on the mental health part. Loneliness is the silent epidemic especially in the western countries where people spend most of their time alone. This is why the longevity index is poor in these countries. Teams from Chinese University, Stanford University and Deep Longevity University collectively did research on the impact of loneliness on longevity. They focused on loneliness, unhappiness and restlessness as three risk factors for an aging body.
All of these are negative emotional predicaments which may negatively impact our mental, psychological and emotional wellbeing. Surprisingly, loneliness is worse than smoking when it comes to increasing the speed of ageing. The findings are published in the journal Aging, which mentions that being unhappy and/or lonely can make a person faster than smoking.
The research team analysed data of over 12,000 people aged 45 and above. Out of these, 4,000 were women ailing with chronic conditions like lung diseases, liver disease, stroke, cancer, etc. The team studies their social circle, environment, psychological health, smoking and demographics to reach the conclusion. They also calculated their biological age to reach a conclusion.
Biological age is calculated on the basis of chronological age, lifestyle, genetics, kidney condition and body mass index. If your biological age is similar to your chronological age, you are considered healthy. People with a healthy and active lifestyle often have the same biological age. If your biological age is more than chronological age, your body is unhealthy. In order to establish the relation between psychological factors and ageing, the team also calculated the age clock, which depicts accelerated ageing or in simple terms, how fast your body is ageing.
The team then studies the possible factors that made people age faster. Loneliness or unhappiness was found to be the top cause of rapid ageing. Lonely people were found to have an additional 20 months of biological age. The second factor is smoking which makes you age faster by 15 months.
Researchers emphasise on the importance of psychological factors for brain and body ageing. They have a significant impact on the biological age and so, we need to promote psychological health equally as physical and mental health.
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