Do you remember the last time you had a cold? That time you had a sore throat, a runny nose, and kept sneezing. You may remember feeling quite miserable.
But, these cold symptoms may feel worse if you're feeling lonely, according to a study from the Rice University.
In this study, the research team followed 213 healthy volunteers to investigate whether feeling lonely could affect how your experience a cold.
First, the researchers asked them to fill in a questionnaire about how lonely they felt. They asked them for example: “In general, how often do you feel left out?” and “In general, how often do you feel isolated from others?”.
Then, the researchers gave them a common cold virus via nasal drops. During the following five days, they asked them to rate their cold symptoms – such as the severity of their runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, or headache.
After 28 days, the researchers also took a blood sample to measure whether they were infected with this common cold virus.
After analysing all the data, the research team found that the volunteers who felt lonely were no more likely to catch a common cold than those who didn’t feel lonely.
Intriguingly, they also found that the lonelier the volunteers with a cold said they were, the worse they rated their cold symptoms.
“Put simply, lonelier people may feel worse when they are sick than less lonely people”, wrote the researchers. (Read here how to avoid a cold this season)
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU’RE FEELING LONELY?
Everyone feels lonely sometimes. This sad feeling about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world happens to everyone from time to time.
If you’re feeling lonely, then you may overcome your loneliness (according to Lifeline) by:
- Connecting or reconnecting with your family and friends– staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness. If they don’t live nearby, then technology can help you stay in touch.
- Getting out of the house– regular outings for social functions, exercise, visiting friends, doing shopping, or simply going to public places can help.
- Getting involved – try a new hobby, join a club, enrol in study, or learn a new skill.
- Volunteering– helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected.
If your loneliness is causing you distress, then do find someone to reach out to. You can discuss your concerns with your GP or another person that you trust. This could be a friend, a family member or a therapist.
My anti-loneliness antidote? I get my calendar out and map out my social life. Because I don't expect spontaneous invites all the time (although I do love them).
I make sure my month is scattered with social activities. There’s no better anti-loneliness antidote for me than having a good time with other people.
What is your anti-loneliness antidote? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.