Valentine’s Day is almost over. For many, today was yet another day to feel depressed, blue and isolated.  In fact, statistics state that – as a society- we are more depressed on this day vs. the entire Christmas holiday season! And, in many cases, loneliness is not just making us sick, it is killing us. Loneliness is a serious health risk. Studies of elderly people and social isolation concluded that those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely. Yikes!

One study that really zoned in on the impact of isolation stated “Loneliness often is regarded as the psychological embodiment of social isolation, reflecting the individual’s experienced dissatisfaction with the frequency and closeness of their social contacts or the discrepancy between the relationships they have and the relationships they would like to have . Loneliness itself has been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality elevated blood pressure and cortisol , heightened inflammatory responses to stress , and modifications in transcriptional pathways linked with glucocorticoid and inflammatory processes.”

There are ways, however, to be proactive about your own isolation.  Here are three tips to help you through the rest of this Valentine’s Day and next week:

1. Join a group. This doesn’t have to be a depression support group. It can be a hobby group, a book club, whatever you find interesting. This serves several purposes. First, it keeps you participating in social activities, and second, it lets you continue to pursue things you enjoy.

2. Get a gym membership. Gyms are great because in addition to providing exercise, they enable you to surround yourself with people and not be expected to talk with any of them. Sometimes this is just what you need.

3. If you absolutely must isolate yourself, try to make the time productive. Don’t sit around and mope; work on a hobby, read a book, write a screenplay, listen to opera. The goal is to make your alone time a period of meditation and peace without focusing too much on your troubles or on past regrets

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