Similar to the feeling of hunger, it seems the loneliness feeling serves an evolutionary need: We feel hungry so that we eat and don’t die. Likewise, we physically feel lonely so that we make connections with each other and we can collectively thrive.
Researchers from the UCLA School of Medicine, University of California at Davis and University of Chicago recently found complex immune system reactions at work in lonely people. Their study determined lessened activity in genes that produce antibodies to fight infection. It also found increased activity in genes responsible for inflammation.
Sadly, the modern world has too often isolated many of us into homes living physically apart from others. No matter how hard we try to socialize, we are home alone most of the time and get lonely. This is especially a problem for retired people who can’t just walk outside and connect with other people.
A wonderful aspect of cohousing is that you can enjoy your privacy and individuality, but you can simply walk outside to enjoy the connections all around you.
I’d love to see a study of the cellular health of cohousers. Are we more healthy because of the community we enjoy?
[Photo: Nyttend, Wikimedia Commons]